Photo Tips: Served Fresh on Breakfast Television

Today we had a chance to share some photo tips on Breakfast Television.  Actually, I am writing this in advance of going on air, so hopefully the segment went well and the viewers learned had some fun.  I’ll put a link to the BT video once it is live.  With that said, I expect the pace was pretty quick, so I am excited to expand a little bit here on the blog.

We’ve split the tips into two parts, simple and advanced.

Simple:  These tips can be used by anyone who has a digital camera.  While they are nothing fancy, they should help you take photos that are “art worthy”!

1. Rule of Thirds:  Our natural inclination is to center everything in our photos, whether it is a person or an object.  Centering things feels good.  But it looks bad.  You can get a much more appealing effect by thinking of the photo split into three distinct areas, then putting the subject into one of the outer areas.  As I mentioned on air, this rule is not set in stone, so if you think something would look better centered, then do it, but in most cases the rule of thirds will serve you well!

2. Get Low:  Photographing pets or kids is extremely popular.  However many people make the mistake of standing at their full height when taking these photos.  The key to getting the right perspective is to get down to their level.  So make sure you crouch down, bend those knees, and start getting shots that look a lot more like the ones that the pros take!

3. Close up Details:  As humans, we are definitely great at seeing the big picture.  Our eyes have a huge field of vision and so wide angles feel comfortable for us when taking photos.  However many great artistic photos are taken from close up.  To do this, you can either use your zoom lens, or you can get close to the subject matter.  Getting a close up that makes for an interesting photo will definitely take some experimenting, so next time you have the camera out, take some shots and check out the results!

4. Amp it up:  There are definitely many times when you have a so-so photo.  If that is the case, don’t despair, there is a good chance you can spice it up after the fact and you don’t need to be a pro or a software geek.  I recommend using a software tool that is web based and easy to use.  It is also important to use one that won’t compress your image so that you can still print it as large piece of art if you want to.  My favourite at the moment is pixlr-o-matic .  In this example I took a boring photo of the Eiffel Tower and added some cool filters and edge effects to create something that looks very unique and better suited to the colour palette of the room I was thinking of hanging the photo in.

Advanced:  These tips are for photographers that aspire to do something extra special in their quest for the ultimate photo art.

1. Long Exposure:  This is a classic technique to add interest to your photos.  By using a slow shutter speed, you can keep the stationary objects crisp, while the moving objects are blurred through the shot.  A tripod is usually a necessity.  The common themes are car lights, stars in the night sky, fireworks, and rivers.  Start experimenting with long exposure by changing the shutter speed on your camera to a really slow setting, such as 1/30.  When you do this, make sure to compensate for the amount of light you are letting into the camera.  The longer the shutter speed, the more light you let in, so a lower ISO setting or bumping down your aperture a stop or two would be a good idea.

2. HDR (High Dynamic Range):  Although this technique starts with taking a series of bracket exposure photos, it requires a fair bit of post processing.  To start you need to take a set of photos of the exact same image.  Again, a tripod is a necessity to ensure the image is exactly the same every time.  Your set of photos will be taken across the exposure range in quick succession with varied shutter speeds.  After you take the photos, it is back to the computer to meld these photos into one single photo.  When done properly you end up with a stunning photo that shows extreme shadow and highlight detail all in the same photo which results in an image that is more attuned to the range that the human eye sees.

3. Bokeh:  This term of Japanese origin describes blurring in a photo.  There is definitely good and bad bokeh, but what I showed on air was an example of good bokeh. This is one of my personal favourites for creating funky photo art.  To achieve this result,  you set the camera to focus on something in the foreground, then photograph something in the distance, which works very well with light sources such as city lights, lights on a bridge, etc.  If the shot turns out correctly, you will end up with a really cool abstract photo.

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