Group Photography Tips

Not everyone is familiar with the latest photography techniques, and when you add high-end digital cameras in the mix, you can expect issues to arise. And who says that you need to be an expert like Martin Klimas, Nigel Barker, Jill Greenberg, or any other famous photographer to take beautiful pictures. You can just as well be an amateur and still get the best pictures possible. How, you ask? The first step to taking workable pictures is by understanding your camera. Whether your camera is the latest model with innumerable features or is an older model from few years, you have to familiarize yourself with it.

Taking group photographs isn’t different than taking portrait, still, or landscape photographs. Regardless of the number of people, you can capture images that are natural, pleasant, and elegant. In this article, we are going to give you some tips for indoor and outdoor photography that will enhance the images tenfold.

Tips for Indoor and Outdoor Photography

Imagine that you and your family (or friends) are gathered for a special occasion and you wish to capture this moment forever. You grab the camera and start clicking pictures. But somewhere down the line, the light is too bright or dull, you can’t capture the angles correctly, and/or you are confused with all the different features on the camera.

The point to remember is that everything lies in the facial expressions. Whether you click pictures inside the house or somewhere outside, the secret to liven up the images is in everyone’s faces. When you focus on them, rather than the background, you end up clicking the best pictures. Now, I don’t mean that a background doesn’t count. But the point is, you don’t always have to focus on the background. For an amateur photographer, concentrating on the subjects’ faces is very crucial. Once you have mastered this art, you can move on to other details of pictures and features your camera has to offer.

Indoor Photography

  • First of all, using natural light is the best way to capture vibrant images. Yes, it does sound ironic but it’s the truth. Using the flash has its own benefits and it is quite tempting to use them indoors as well. Which is why, try taking pictures with the light coming from the windows and doors. Have everyone stand in such a way so that the light falls directly on their faces.
  • Second of all, pick backgrounds that are easy to work with. A plain wall, a couch, a table, or even a computer desk with as little clutter as possible will work in your favor. When there are less things to get distracted by, the focus stays on the people in the images. You want to accentuate the people in the images and not the background.
  • With large groups, using a tripod is the best way to avoid shaky images. This is one of the most important tips for beginners; whether the images are being taken indoors or outdoors. With a tripod, you will spend less time deleting shaky images and more time clicking pictures.
  • Always take 2 to 3 shots of the same poses so while editing, you can select the best one. With large groups, you are bound to get certain shots with someone’s eyes closed, a person looking away from the camera, people yawning, making weird faces, etc. So instead of wasting the images, you can delete the ones that aren’t perfect and select the ones that are.
  • Always read the instructions that come with the camera. The different features like ISO, shutter speed, white balance, light sensitivity, and camera modes are provided for a reason. Experiment with the features and see what results you get.

Outdoor Photography

  • The light is your best friend here. While clicking outdoor pictures, you have enough light to capture the images without having to use the flash. However, you need to be aware of the direction of the light, where the group is standing, and is there any light falling directly over the camera lens. Of course, with practice, you will understand the difference and how you (the photographer) need to position yourself to get perfect images possible.
  • Many times, you will notice that the faces in the images are coming a bit dark, even after you’ve used the natural light effect. Here, what you can do is use the reflecting light technique. Using sunlight or the reflection from a white wall works wonders. This way, even with an open sky and the possibility of darker faces, the reflecting lights will brighten everyone’s faces in those images.
  • You can either use a point and shoot camera or try your hand at using a DSLR camera. Of course, the results will be poles apart because of the advanced features provided in DSLR cameras. However, the images will be remarkable nonetheless.
  • Don’t use sideways or downward angles while taking group photographs. Here, you can use a tripod or hold the camera in such a way that your hands are not moving involuntarily. The images need to be centered so that the group’s photographs come clean. Also, it’s alright if you can’t include the sky along with the people. Outdoor photographs don’t necessarily require the sky background in them.

While you’re taking group photographs or any other photographs for that matter, practice, practice, and more practice. Keep experimenting with your camera, try different backgrounds, and see what results you get. The more you get familiar with your camera, the better chances you have to get amazing images.

Explore Your Passion for Night Photography With Simple Techniques

Night photography can be a bit challenging because of the less amount of light that is available to us; therefore, one often faces the problem of the picture containing a lot of noise. With some effective settings and the right equipment, one can get to do some amazing photography at night.

Here is a beginner’s guide to photography with techniques for shooting night subjects such as the moon, fireworks, traffic lines, and night landscapes.

How to Shoot the Moon
For this technique, you will need at least 300 mm zoom lens.

  • Secure the SLR on a tripod, on a wide base.
  • Use these manual settings on the SLR: ISO 100, aperture at f/9, exposure at -5 or less and vivid picture quality.
  • Keep the sharpness at a max and the white balance on automatic.
  • Switch on the self-timer for 10 seconds.
  • Never shoot without a tripod as you might end up blurring the picture.
  • Zoom out the lens to its full capacity.
  • Start shooting using auto focus initially, and later experiment with manual focusing. You can also experiment with the setting at maximum focal length.
  • Take some shots and check how they have turned out.

How to Shoot Fireworks
Techniques for night photography of capturing fireworks is easier than you think, but it is important that you get a place from where you can frame your shot nicely. With different shutter speeds, one can always make the fireworks look sharp or achieve different blur effects.

  • Arrive early before the fireworks show, and select a place from where you can compose your shot properly.
  • Mount your camera on a tripod.
  • Set your camera for 4 – 5 seconds of exposure, and aperture at f/8.
  • Switch off the camera’s flash, and set the ISO on 50 or 100.
  • Zoom out and compose your frame.
  • Set the timer and start shooting.
  • Check how the shots look, and later experiment with different shutter speeds.

How to Shoot a Night Landscape
Some of the best subjects for night landscapes are city landscapes (it looks even better if the city landscape is reflected in a water body), a farmhouse, a stream or river, trees and cottages, etc.

  • The first thing is to compose your subject; for example, try to go for a low dynamic angle of a lit-up building with a road, or buildings reflected in the water.
  • Mount your camera on the tripod well and switch off the flash.
  • Use manual settings of ISO at around 100, exposure of 4 seconds and aperture at f/9 .
  • Set the self-timer or use the remote control.
  • Start shooting. One can always take multiple shots if the camera is digital.
  • Take a look at your cityscape pictures and experiment with different shutter speeds and composition. You can also try out the cityscapes in black and white photography setting.

How to Shoot Traffic Lines
This is one of the long exposure techniques. Climb up a bridge to get a top angle of a road or highway.

  • Fix your camera on the tripod, and compose your shot well.
  • Switch off the flash, and manually set the camera aperture at f/9, exposure at around 20 seconds, and ISO 100.
  • Keep the white balance on auto and with a self-timer or remote, start shooting the subject.
  • Check your images for the results, and experiment with different exposure times.

How to Shoot a Night HDR
This is similar to day HDR (High Dynamic Range) technique, but capturing HDR is very interesting, as the final result gives a picture a very dramatic-surreal look. Some subjects for clicking night HDR are landscapes. Make sure you have the sky in your frame or a landscape with river, water bodies, etc.

  • You absolutely need a tripod for capturing a day or night HDR.
  • After setting the camera, select AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) setting of -2, 0 and 2.
  • Compose the scene, and start shooting.
  • If you don’t have the AEB setting, then mount the camera on a tripod. Very carefully without moving the camera or tripod click, three pictures on exposure setting of -2, 0 and 2.
  • Open these pictures with a software like Photoshop CS-2 or CS-3, or a HDR rendering software and merge the three pictures together.
  • Experiment with the different brightness, contrasts, hue and saturation settings, to make the sky look purple or orange.

Tips for Nocturnal Photography

Here are some tips to make your shots using the above techniques for photography at night look better.

  • A tripod is essential, so always use one for night photography. If you don’t have one, then invest in a decent one if you want to take some good night pictures.
  • Keep the ISO at around 100 to reduce the noise.
  • Try to shoot on a full moon night, so that there will be more light.
  • Check the weather forecast, so that you don’t get caught in a rainy situation with your expensive photography equipment.
  • Do not be sad, if you don’t own a SLR. Try to experiment with the different exposure triangle settings in your camera, of ISO, shutter speed and aperture, and take pictures with the above digital photography techniques.
  • When you think you need a better camera for digital photography, borrow from your friends and use different models and then buy a good DSLR for yourself. The rates have recently dropped, and one can always buy a DSLR on EMI, if that is a practical and viable option.

These were some of the interesting photography tips and techniques of low light or night photography. To learn some more such techniques, visit popular photo sharing sites and look for the pictures you like and would like to shoot. After selecting the picture, click on more properties of the picture and you will get all the settings on which the person has captured the picture. Some more interesting subjects for nocturnal photography are city skylines, a street with or without cars, abandoned old buildings, nightlife or concerts, amusement rides, silhouettes of birds or trees, etc. So good luck and keep shooting!

How to Winning Photography Contests

2015-11-25-photography-contest-2The best part of competing in a photography contest is not only winning a prize, but getting a great platform to display your creativity. You have to prove how good you are with your work, before you can get some recognition and become a professional.

A winning entry in a photography contest is usually selected by a panel of judges based on various criteria. One of major criteria that a judge will look for in your photograph is the visual impact that it can make. The image should be such that it should demand attention. A fresh and imaginative approach to the image is as important as the style. In a contest, the judges will also evaluate the technical competence with which the photograph was taken, some of the areas of technical expertise being correct exposure, composition, contrast, and clarity. Lastly, to enhance the chances of you winning, ensure that the photographs you submit are printed in the highest quality.

Categories
Some of the categories that are generally available in free photography contests are as follows:

  • Animals
  • People, Baby or Child
  • Creative, Artistic or Digital Art
  • Black and White
  • Nature, Landscape or Seascape
  • Macro, Abstract or Still Life

Useful Tips

Here are some tips that you can use:

  • The subject of the photograph should be chosen wisely. It will help if the entire photo, except the subject, is plain, so that the focus of the person viewing the photograph is immediately captured.
  • Anticipate and plan out photo opportunities instead of waiting for a ‘great’ shot.
  • You could also create a photograph from somebody else’s perspective, like a baby’s view out of its crib.
  • Incorporate new angles, use different times of daylight, filters, and colored lighting to create new and innovative effects.
  • It is important to constantly go through books, magazines, websites, and product catalogs to keep up with all the latest and new trends, and also pick up new ideas.
  • It is always advantageous to use a tripod or a monopod to help increase the details and reduce the blur in the photographs.
  • Your photograph must provide a compelling reason that will force a user to look at it. Other that the fact that your photograph must be really good, you can add a thought-provoking or an interesting title that will help grab the attention of the viewer further.
  • The color combination should be such that it should capture an interesting color palette which is complementary and analogous.
    With the help of silver, gold, and white reflectors, lightening can be improved. Further, ensure that you bounce your flash off the ceiling, as a direct flash creates ‘red eye’ and harsh shadows.
  • Analyze the theme of the competition correctly before submitting your photographs. Further, you must make it a point to view the winning images in other competitions, and try to understand as to why they have been selected. Incorporate the positive qualities that you find in these entries into your photographs.
  • When you have to submit a set of pictures for a competition, ensure that all the pictures are equally appealing, as a single bad picture can weaken your overall score considerably.

When you win a contest, notify your local newspapers with a press release. The press is always looking to publish good stories, and this free publicity will go a long way in increasing your credibility as a photographer, and will help you get work, which I guess is the aim of entering a contest, unless you enjoy photography as a hobby. All the best!

Tips for Shooting Black and White Photos

Black and white photography is coming back into vogue among photography enthusiasts. When color came into the scene, it resulted in good old black and white photography being less favored. It just seemed so drab and dull when compared to the bursts of color that color photography represented. However, of late, people are beginning to rediscover the intrinsic beauty of black and white photography and the purity and power that these pictures can have. Here are a few tips that should be considered while shooting these photos.

Choosing Your Subject
Irrespective of whether it is a color or a black and white picture, choosing a subject and focusing on it is very important. Needless to say, there is a difference. For example, while some subjects may seem very interesting in color, they often would turn out looking dull and drab in the other version. But then, often a simple scene or a portrait can come out looking quite dramatic in black and white.

When photographing people in black and white, the pictures come out better if they are dressed in simple clothes and solid colors, instead of prints. You can achieve a dramatic and dreamy effect by having as few elements as possible. Many people in fact are opting to get their wedding pictures shot in black and white because of the romantic and timeless quality it gives them.

Landscapes, cityscapes, still life with fruits and flower arrangements also make great subjects for black and white photography. You need to have a keen eye for the unusual, such as the effects of shapes and shadows made by various objects, buildings, or trees.

The Effects of Light and Shadow
As a matter of fact, such photographs are basically about light and shadow. This is the reason they must be used as effectively as possible. For instance, try taking pictures of a scene at various times of the day and you will notice how light and shadow can affect the picture. Another idea is to experiment with the quality or intensity of light. For instance, you could take a picture of a tree on a foggy day, and then photograph the same tree on a bright day.

Take Shapes into Consideration
Since black and white pictures lack color, they are dependent largely on lines and shapes to create interest. Try to incorporate a variety of shapes that create different types of lines such as curving lines, crooked lines, or slanting lines. Stark straight lines can also create a dramatic effect.

Mind Your Perspective
Perspective can create some very interesting effects, especially in black and white photography. Perspective can bring alive a standard subject, it can suggest depth and mystery in everyday objects, and, in fact, you can make a picture tell a story just by using an unusual angle while photographing a scene.

Take Care of the Background
You need to make sure that the subject does not get lost in the background. Often, just by shifting your subject a little to the left or right can help in eliminating unwanted elements in your photograph. Or you could try to take the picture from another angle.

Add Texture
Texture can add interest and definition to these photos. For example, a black and white picture of a roughly textured wall will certainly look more interesting than a smooth wall, or a road made of cobblestones will look more dramatic than a smooth one. A smooth, plain texture will create the desired effect when shooting for shadow photography.

Colors Do Matter
Yes, each color has a different effect on black and white photos. For example, while green and red may look striking juxtaposed against each other in a colored photo, however, the two colors become almost indistinguishable in a black and white photograph. The more contrast the colors have in their grayscale values, the more interest will they create in black and white pictures.

Keep in mind that you can use the stark qualities of black and white shades to create dramatic and meaningful pictures. You can have a lot of fun, and often get strikingly unusual effects, by experimenting with this genre of photography.