Archive for June, 2009

Posing Basics

June 30, 2009

Photo © Copyright Michael Van Auken

The text and photo in this article are excerpted from The Art of People Photography by Bambi Cantrell and Skip Cohen. Copyright © 2007 by Bambi Cantrell and Skip Cohen. Reprinted by permission of Amphoto Books, an imprint of Watson-Guptill Publications. All rights reserved.

To read more about this book, read the article in the Photobird Daily entitled “The Art of People Photography“.

~•~

Posing Basics

Position your subjects so that they create pyramid shapes or triangles. Put people in small clusters. Stay away from the firing-squad approach (everyone standing straight in a row). And, don’t be afraid to leave a little space between your subjects.

If any of the subjects are to be seated, the art of communication is critical; you’re not just a photographer any longer, you’ve graduated to director. You want to make sure your subjects don’t sit flat on their backside. Instead, have them turn or shift so that they sit on their bottom thigh (more on their side than on their bottom) and have them lean forward, toward you, so that the majority of their weight is behind them.

If your subjects are standing, have them turn approximately 45 degrees away from the camera, separate their feet, and push their front hip away from you while turning the front foot toward the camera.

Remember, you can always break the rules, providing you understand them up front. For example, there may be times when you’re going to set up a “group hug” and create the infamous bunch-of-grapes pose, perfect for a message that screams “We love you, Grandma!”

~•~

The text and photo in this article are excerpted from The Art of People Photography by Bambi Cantrell and Skip Cohen. Copyright © 2007 by Bambi Cantrell and Skip Cohen. Reprinted by permission of Amphoto Books, an imprint of Watson-Guptill Publications. All rights reserved.

To read more about this book, read the article in the Photobird Daily entitled “The Art of People Photography“.

~•~

Before you buy The Art of People Photography or anything else on Amazon.com, please click one of our links to Amazon.com on this page or anywhere on Photobird.com. For each product you buy after your click, we receive a small referral fee, at no additional cost to you. Your clicks and purchases allow us to continue to publish the Photobird Daily and the Photobird Learning Center. Thank you for your support!

~•~

10 Tips for Photographing Pets

June 29, 2009

“Lazy-Spud”
© Copyright Mike Saunders

Elizabeth West has written an excellent article on photodoto.com about how to get good pictures of your pets. Pets are often challenging subjects to photograph and these tips will help you document the unique and playful personalities of your dogs, cats, birds, goldfish, and other members of your family.

So here then are Elizabeth’s top ten tips:

  1. Be patient. Pets aren’t likely to “strike a pose”.
  2. Try to capture a characteristic action or activity. I suppose this would be “sleeping” if you own a cat.
  3. Get on the same level. Unless your pet is a horse or giraffe, this means you’ll need to crouch or sit down.
  4. Fill the frame with your pet. A good use of that telephoto lens you purchased.
  5. Don’t ignore the background. Just like composing any good shot, eliminate distracting background items and avoid mergers.
  6. Try for natural light. Flash will upset kitty and kitty likes to bite!
  7. Use a fast shutter speed. Elizabeth recommends 250 (1/250 second), or “sports” or “action” mode if available on your camera.
  8. Aim for the eyes. They say eyes are the gateway to the soul and, yes, it’s true, all dogs go to heaven.
  9. Overexpose a bit. Adjust the exposure depending on the available light and the color of the animal’s fur.
  10. Include people in the shots. Family members interacting with pets can bring out the best in both subjects.

Be sure to read the full article for more details. Interestingly, most of Elizabeth’s tips apply just as well to photographing people.

~•~

See more great photos and photography articles in the Photobird Daily.

Sign up for the Photobird newsletter.

Visit Photobird.com, the easy way to share your photos.

~•~

5 Days Left: Photo Contest for June

June 26, 2009

“Tuzgölü”
© Copyright Laszlo Nemeth

There’s only 5 days remaining until the end of the Photobird Photo Contest for June 2009 with the theme “Two”. Enter the contest here. The contest is always free to enter and this month’s contest ends Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at 11:59pm Pacific time.

I like this artistic photo shown above entitled “Tuzgölü” that was entered into the Photobird Photo Contest for June 2009 by Laszlo Nemeth. This photo has a lot of good things in it. I like the horizon line at the top of the Rule of Thirds. I like the relative clarity of the foreground, where you can see the texture of the sand — or salt. The two people in the distance give a very nice perspective to the photo. I like how the sky imitates the color of the water that would be in the lake if the lake had water in it.

If I’m not mistaken, my keen Google skills and my rusty Turkish (I don’t know any) tell me that Tuzgölü is a salt lake in Turkey in or near Ankara. “Tuzgölü” may even be the literal translation for “salt lake”. Hey, according to this Wikipedia entry, it looks like I’m correct!

Laszlo Nemeth won the People’s Choice Award for the Photobird Photo Contest for February 2008 with the photo entitled “Morning at the lake“, another great photo of a lake.

Photobird Photo Contest details:

The two winners for the Photobird Photo Contest for June 2009 will each receive the following cool prizes:

Read more details about the monthly contest here.

Every monthly Photobird Photo Contest has two winners. At the end of each month, we pick one winner for the Photobird Award, and we will tally your votes to determine the one winner for the People’s Choice Award.

See the previous contests and their photos at this link.

Go here to enter the contest. And be sure to have your family and friends vote for their favorite entries to help select the People’s Choice Award. (You can send them a quick little reminder here.)

~•~

See more great photos and photography articles in the Photobird Daily.

Sign up for the Photobird newsletter.

Visit Photobird.com, the easy way to share your photos.

~•~

A Partial Eclipse Over Manila Bay

June 25, 2009

“A Partial Eclipse Over Manila Bay”
© Copyright Fermin Naelga, Jr. and Dr. Armando Lee

One of the reasons I really like the Astronomy Picture of the Day is that I get to see stunning photos of extraordinary celestial events such as the photo shown above entitled “A Partial Eclipse Over Manila Bay” by Fermin Naelga, Jr. and Dr. Armando Lee. Click the photo above to see a larger version.

Viewing partial eclipses through photographs seems like one of the best ways to view these experiences because observing partial solar eclipses with naked eyes can result in permanent eye damage and you won’t even know your eyes are damaged until several hours later. More information on viewing solar eclipses safely is here and details on why precautions are needed is here. You can find details on how to photograph solar eclipses at MrEclipse.com.

I’ve written before about the Astronomy Picture of the Day and if you like this photo, I think you’ll also like the others listed below. Be sure to click the photos to see larger versions.

~•~

See more great photos and photography articles in the Photobird Daily.

Sign up for the Photobird newsletter.

Visit Photobird.com, the easy way to share your photos.

~•~

10 Tips for Photographing Vacations

June 24, 2009

“Golden Gate Bridge with cruise ship”
© Copyright Ed Krimen

Traveling to far off and distant lands is always exciting. So is traveling to nearby locales within a few hours’ drive. In both cases, it’s important to make sure you and your camera are set and ready to go. But it’s most important to make sure you are ready because your camera can’t take great photos without you. Remember, the photographer takes the great photos, not the camera.

Kodak has a good list of vacation photography tips on their website. Most of their tips are on track, and I have a few other important reminders I’ve interspersed below. I’ve also reordered the tips in more of a priority order.

1. Do your homework. Research where you’re going and learn about local events, landmarks, cultures, and traits that make your destination unique, such as this photo shown above I took of the “Golden Gate Bridge with cruise ship“. Also, learn the features of your camera and bring your camera manual with you. Even if you’ve already read it, you might want to look something up if you have a question about a feature.

2. Always carry your camera. That’s the easy one! You can’t take pictures if you don’t have your camera. Also make sure your memory cards are empty before you venture out for the day and make sure your batteries are fully charged by the morning.

3. Take lots of pictures. And only show the best ones to family and friends. Professional photographers often take thousands of photos a day and only select a handful as their favorites. Read more in the Photobird Daily article “Shoot Lots of Photos!

4. Protect your gear. As Kodak advises, “Sand, water, snow, and heat are your camera’s worst enemies.” If your camera gets wet, check out the Photobird Daily article “Help, I Wet My Camera!

5. Tell a story. Capture your departure, your return, and the details and emotions of your trip. Carry a small notebook to jot down quick details. I’ve written before about how it’s important to tell stories with your photos; read the Photobird Daily article “Make Your Photos Tell a Story“.

6. Capture the local flavor. Unique items make great pictures. Keep an eye out for things you and the folks back home don’t see every day.

7. Create a photo menu. Take pictures of your meals, especially the unusual foods. Similar to #5 above, you can even shoot “before” and “after” photos. Make sure you get close-ups of the food. Read “Easy Tips for Photographing Food” in the Photobird Daily. Natural light is best for your food photos. In restaurants, try to sit by the window so you can use the natural light for your photos.

8. Look for common themes. That should come naturally to you as you’ll usually visit only the places you are interested in, such as museums, gardens, and beaches.

9. Accessorize. Or not. Kodak suggests that you consider using wide-angle and telephoto lenses when necessary. If you’re an aspiring professional photographer, go ahead and use multiple lenses. But for most photo opportunities, your point-and-shoot camera should be fine. Carrying around a lot of gear may take the pleasure out of your vacation and make it seem more like work. Ken Rockwell, a professional photographer, is able to shoot gorgeous photos with point-and-shoot cameras. Read more in the Photobird Daily article “How to Shoot with a Point-and-Shoot Camera“.

10. Have fun. You’re on vacation, not a professional photo shoot. Take candid photos and try not to force your subjects to pose too much. Let them relax and pose naturally. Enjoy your vacation!

~•~

See more great photos and photography articles in the Photobird Daily.

Sign up for the Photobird newsletter.

Visit Photobird.com, the easy way to share your photos.

~•~

Best Selling Cameras on Amazon.com – June 23

June 23, 2009

Amazon.com keeps a running tally of its best-selling digital cameras, updated hourly. Check out the Amazon.com Digital Camera Best Sellers page at this link to see the complete list of cameras.

The top 10 list for the Amazon.com Digital Camera Best Sellers page is below. This week’s list and the list from two weeks ago are shown. Click on any of the links to go to the Amazon.com page for that camera to read reviews and to obtain more details on each camera.

This week:

1. Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS (Blue) – $180
2. Canon PowerShot SX10 IS – $360
3. Canon Rebel XSi – $688
4. Canon PowerShot A1000 IS (Grey) – $140
5. Canon Rebel T1i – $832
6. Canon PowerShot SD890 IS – $199
7. Canon PowerShot SD780 IS (Black) – $245
8. Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5S – $215
9. Canon PowerShot A1000 IS (Brown) – $130
10. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290 (Black) – $210

Two weeks ago:

1. Canon PowerShot A1000 IS (Grey) – $133
2. Canon PowerShot SD880 IS (Silver) – $288
3. Canon PowerShot SX10 IS – $370
4. Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5A – $213
5. Canon PowerShot G10 – $449
6. Canon PowerShot SD890 IS – $199
7. Canon Rebel XSi – $699
8. Canon PowerShot SX110 IS – $224
9. Canon PowerShot SD780 IS (Black) – $239
10. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28K (Black) – $299

There’s a lot of shuffling going on at the top of the Amazon.com Digital Camera Best Sellers list. For many months, the Canon PowerShot A590 IS compact digital camera was in first place. Then, for at least 6 weeks, the Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS tiny digital camera in blue was in first place, just as it is this week. But in the past few weeks, both the Canon PowerShot SD880 IS in silver and the Canon PowerShot A1000 IS in grey have been in the number one spots. Overall, prices for all of the cameras seem to be the same or slightly higher this week compared with two weeks ago.

Canon is still holding most of the top 10 spots on the Amazon.com Digital Camera Best Sellers list. This week, Canon holds 8 of the top 10 spots. Usually they hold at least 7. I’ve never seen them with less than 6. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5S and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290 in black are the only two cameras in the top 10 list this week that are not Canon cameras.

Before you buy a Canon digital camera or anything else on Amazon.com, please click one of our links to Amazon.com on this page or anywhere on Photobird.com. For each product you buy after your click, we receive a small referral fee, at no additional cost to you. Your clicks and purchases allow us to continue to publish the Photobird Daily and the Photobird Learning Center. Thank you for your support!

~•~

See more great photos and photography articles in the Photobird Daily.

Sign up for the Photobird newsletter.

Visit Photobird.com, the easy way to share your photos.

~•~

How to Get Great Photos of Small Objects

June 22, 2009

Photo © Copyright Stobist

When you sell something online, it’s important to make the item’s description both visually appealing and informative. If the item looks its best, potential buyers will dramatically increase the number of bids and the final selling price of your item. And since a picture is worth a thousand words, nothing says “Buy now!” more than a well-lit macro shot of the item you intend to sell.

The best way to get a beautifully lit photograph of your item is by creating your very own macro photo studio. Sounds highfalutin and expensive, you say. Nonsense, says I: Check out this article on the Strobist where David has constructed his very own macro photo studio for less than $10 using a recycled 12 x 12 x 12-inch box and some tissue paper.

The photo of the flower and vase shown above was shot with the simple set-up shown below. As you can see in the photo, David used an off-camera flash to light up his shot, but you can also use worklights, such as those sold at home improvement stores.

Photo © Copyright Stobist

Once your box is built, you’ll have a lot of control over the light. You can easily stop reflections, add or remove definition, and have a nice seamless top to bottom background, known in the biz as an “infinity sweep”. Be sure to read David’s article for complete details.

~•~

See more great photos and photography articles in the Photobird Daily.

Sign up for the Photobird newsletter.

Visit Photobird.com, the easy way to share your photos.

~•~

1 Week Left: Photo Contest for June

June 19, 2009

“Butterfly”
© Copyright Chanchal Ghosh

There’s only 1 week remaining until the end of the Photobird Photo Contest for June 2009 with the theme “Two”. Enter the contest here. The contest is always free to enter and this month’s contest ends June 30, 2009 at 11:59pm Pacific time.

The photo shown above entitled “Butterfly” was entered into the Photobird Photo Contest for June 2009 by Chanchal Ghosh. I like the vibrant colors and the sharpness of the photo. The colors are very earthy: greens and browns, especially the very rich browns of the butterflies. I like how the main butterfly, front and center, has a pronounced texture to its wings. It appears very tangible in this photo. The short depth of field with the blurred background really makes the butterflies stand out.

Photobird Photo Contest details:

The two winners for the Photobird Photo Contest for June 2009 will each receive the following cool prizes:

Read more details about the monthly contest here.

Every monthly Photobird Photo Contest has two winners. At the end of each month, we pick one winner for the Photobird Award, and we will tally your votes to determine the one winner for the People’s Choice Award.

See the previous contests and their photos at this link.

Go here to enter the contest. And be sure to have your family and friends vote for their favorite entries to help select the People’s Choice Award. (You can send them a quick little reminder here.)

~•~

See more great photos and photography articles in the Photobird Daily.

Sign up for the Photobird newsletter.

Visit Photobird.com, the easy way to share your photos.

~•~

“Are You Nuts” by Vicki Tinnon

June 18, 2009

“Are You Nuts”
© Copyright Vicki Tinnon

This is a cute photo shown above entitled “Are You Nuts” by Vicki Tinnon, taken on the campus at Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska. Vicki Tinnon submitted the photo for the Photobird Photo of the Hour.

Is the squirrel posing, or is it admiring the camera Vicki Tinnon is holding, thinking it’s actually a really large nut?

What’s quicker than a hungry squirrel with lunch in its mouth? Vicki Tinnon’s shutter button trigger finger. Click the photo to see a larger version.

You can see more of Vicki Tinnon’s Nebraska photos in her “Nebraska Life” photo album on Photobird.com and more of her beautiful photos in her Photobird photo album at photobird.com/vickitinnon. Vicki Tinnon won the Photobird Award for the Photobird Photo Contest for May 2008 with her photo “Moving In“.

Photobird.com is the easy way to share your photos. You capture and share so many great photos on Photobird.com that we created the Photo of the Hour feature to give you the opportunity to share your very best with the rest of the world. You can see the Photo of the Hour on the Photobird.com home page and on the Look at Pictures page.

It’s really easy to submit your favorite photos to be featured on the Photobird Photo of the Hour: Simply view the photo from your photo album and click the “Submit for Photo of the Hour” checkbox. There is no limit to the number of photos you can submit and we always like to get new submissions.

In return for each photo we use on the Photo of the Hour or People Places and Things, you get more storage space for your photo album so you can store more photos. Details are here.

If you’d like to keep some of your photos private while you share your favorite photos with the world, you can read how easy it is to do that with Photobird photo albums in our Photobird Daily article entitled “Show Off Your Photos, and Keep Some Private“.

~•~

See more great photos and photography articles in the Photobird Daily.

Sign up for the Photobird newsletter.

Visit Photobird.com, the easy way to share your photos.

~•~

How to Photograph an Aurora

June 17, 2009

“Auroral Explosion”
© Copyright Ben Hattenbach

Auroras make for stunning photographs. I imagine that auroras are even more incredible when viewed in person. But what’s the best way to photograph auroras? Ben Hattenbach wrote a detailed article on The Luminous Landscape website that describes how he photographed the Aurora Borealis during “nine chilly nights” in the Alaska wilderness.

He also has some good anecdotes about how his photography equipment fared in the freezing cold: “On this trip to Alaska, the nighttime temperatures in the mountains I was exploring normally ranged between -20 oF (-29 oC) and -40 oF (-40 oC), conditions that the locals dismissed as mere ‘t-shirt weather.'”

I recommend you read the entire article for all the details, but here’s a quick summary:

Where in Alaska Can One Find an Aurora? Destination: Fairbanks. Ben Hattenbach describes three different locations within about 60 miles of the city, with Clearly Summit along the Steese Highway being only 20 miles from town.

When is the Aurora Best Viewed? Late February and March when the Alaskan skies are the most clear, and between midnight and 2am when the aurorae are most intense.

What’s the Best Way to Photograph the Aurora? Ben Hattenbach explains: “Capture the aurora’s lines and structure, together with some landscape for context.” A sturdy tripod is a must. A fast wide-angle lens is optimal, on a DSLR that produces photos at high ISOs with little or no noise. His suggestions for camera settings include:

  • Manually prefocus at infinity.
  • Use the largest lens aperture available, preferably f2.8 or below.
  • Choose the highest ISO with which your camera will provide reasonably good quality photos.
  • Set your exposure time manually and keep it as short as possible.

Read Ben Hattenbach’s article for more details and more amazing aurora photos.

~•~

See more great photos and photography articles in the Photobird Daily.

Sign up for the Photobird newsletter.

Visit Photobird.com, the easy way to share your photos.

~•~


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.