The Basics

You’ve heard the terms before: aperture, composition, exposure, depth of field, f-stops, ISO and shutter speed. But you’re just a parent, an amateur photographer, and its just not possible to master photography. The solution, or so you think, is just to get an automatic camera and not worry about all of those “technical things”.

The problem is, it is not that hard or difficult to learn how to use these things, and the rewards far outweigh the small effort required to figure them out. In fact, most of today’s modern point-and-shoot cameras have enough functions to enable anyone to improve over the program, or automatic settings, results.

Let’s take a few moments to explore each of these terms in a little detail.

Aperture

Schedule of Aperture

Schedule of Aperture

Aperture in photography refers to the opening of the lens in your camera. When you press the shutter release button it allows light to come through the lens on to the collector. Aperture is measured in f-stops such as f/2.8 etc. The smaller the number the larger the lens opening. Click on the diagram to the right to see this relationship in a visual format. Notice how the openings get larger the smaller the f-stop numbers.

ISO

On most digital cameras there is a button that allows you to choose the ISO setting which refers to the sensitivity of your camera to light. For example, ISO 400 is twice as sensitive to light as ISO 200, ISO 800 is twice as sensitive to light as ISO 400, and so on. The higher the ISO setting the noisier the image will be. In other words, the fuzzier the image will be. Often times the ISO setting is the easiest way to manipulate the camera aperture and shutter speed combinations.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is measured in the amount of time the lens is open to light. Typical shutter speeds are expressed like 1/60, 1/125, 1/250 and so on. You use faster shutter speeds to stop motion, typically like 1/250, 1/500 or 1/1000. This will eliminate the blur and make your image look like it is suspended in mid air.

Depth of Field

Depth of field is the field or area in the photograph that is in focus. In some cases you may want your subject to be in focus and the background out of focus, such as when you are photographing people and don’t want the background to distract the viewer. In other cases, say photographing a landscape where a road or fence goes off in the distance, you may want everything to be in focus.

A long depth of field is when you want to include the environment in the photograph, and a short depth of field is where the entire background is out of focus.

Composition

Composition, in part, is figuring out what you want to be the focus of your photograph and then using all of the above tools to achieve the desired result. You can see that by learning to use these settings you can have more control over your photographs.

Remember, keep taking lots and lots of photographs of your kids. You will be glad you did!
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Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Gorgeous Light In Photography

light in photography

Notice the natural light over Jennifer's shoulder

Light is perhaps the most important consideration when photographing children. There are all kinds of light, sunlight, indirect light, incandescent light and fluorescent light. Regardless of the specific kind of light, where the light comes from and how it strikes the subject is also very important to us. Light in photography can even alter the mood, or feelings associated with the picture.

Light strikes our subject from four basic directions: Front light, Diffused Front light, Back lighting and Side lighting. The most common is Front light, but the most useful for creating incredible images is Side light where you can create the most dramatic and  interesting photographs.

In the beginning most photographers are more concerned about the amount of light rather than the quality of the light and its effect on our subject. As you learn to see how the quality of light can work in your favor you will begin to use different kinds of light on purpose to create certain looks or evoke and convey a particular emotion.

Sweet Light In Photography. . .

Sweet light is that light that we find early in the morning or at twilight. Some photographers will only photograph using this particular kind of light because it will minimize flare and is less likely to create unflattering effects on our subject.

Natural light photography is very effective for projecting a certain mood that you may want to convey.  You have probably noticed the quiet hush just before dawn and twilight. This is a wonderful time to be working with a child in a photographic session.

lighting in photography

Look up and around you! And when you see light like this; immediately grab your camera and take a picture because the seconds are counting down fast.

The Challenges; Mainly Time

One of the challenges of using this form of light is that it is fleeting, appearing and disappearing in a short period of time. In order to use this light effectively you need to be well prepared ahead of time and work quickly while you have the light you want.

Once you miss this window of opportunity a few times you will realize just how fleeting this gift is! Get familiar with sunrise and sunset times, and then observe these times on several occasions so that you understand the time available to get the photographs you want.

The Rewards Are Very, Very Special!

light in photography

Get in the habit of photographing the "golden light" when it happens, and then you will become more disciplined to use those times to photograph your children.

Once you become familiar with the timing, and have practiced preparing for the time available, you will discover some incredible images you can capture during this time.

Your reward will be a child who co-operates willingly, who presents some very sensitive looks and who will look very good in this kind of light.

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Remember, keep taking lots and lots of photographs of your kids. You will be glad you did!

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Latest News If You Are About To Purchase A Canon Digital Camera

If you’re thinking of buying a new compact digital camera, then you might want to wait a month and check out the very latest models to be released then by Canon. They have updated their Powershot A-series with several new features and are offering four new models which cover the entry level budget photography sector pretty comprehensively. We have been using Canon for years and love the reliability, ease of use and good quality lenses that they are renowned for. So if you too want to purchase a Canon digital camera check out their latest models:

The new Powershot A495 and A490 replace the popular Powershot A480, as a budget, very user-friendly compact digital camera. They both have 10 megapixels and a 3.3x Canon optical zoom lens. With Smart Auto modes, face detection technology and a new low light mode as well as smart flash mode, these little cameras do all the work for you, so that you really do just have to point and shoot. They also have great video capabilities and a new software option that allows you to upload video directly to YouTube. Retailing at $129.99 and $109.99 respectively, these compact cameras are a very affordable choice for the teenager in your life, or if you want a pocket camera as a back-up to your SLR, so that you never miss a shot of your kids when you are out and about.

The Canon Powershot A3100IS and A3000IS replace the current Powershot A1100 IS, both have a 4x optical image stabilized zoom and a large 2.7” screen. The A3100 has 12 megapixels and the A3000 10 megapixels and they are the first of the A series cameras to have Lithium Ion rechargeable batteries, instead of using AA battery cells, which should extend battery life to around 230 shots per charge according to Canon’s tests. Both cameras have the Smart Auto functions, Face detection technology and Smart Flash exposure as well as video capabilities. They retail at $179.99 and $149.99, respectively.

Two new creative modes have been added to all the new Powershot models: a new poster effect mode, to create retro poster style images on camera and and Super Vivid to add saturated color to dull images and bring a picture to life with rich color.

While there are no user reviews available yet, as the cameras will only be released in late February 2010, it could be worth waiting to buy a new compact camera, so that you get the very latest in technology. Alternatively if you are a bargain hunter, you might well find the previous models that are about to be replaced being sold at discounted prices as the new models come in to take their place.

Mum and Photographer

Mum and Photographer

Advice For Parents On Photographing Children

Many who want to photograph children decide to do so when they first become parents. All at once nothing in the world is more important than nurturing and observing this perfect little baby that has joined your life.

Watching each and every movement, hearing each new sound, the softness of baby’s skin, the rosy cheeks and each awe inspiring change compel you to want to remember them forever, and photographing your child gives you that record.

Your Favorite Subjects

Each change, each miraculous moment helps you to begin to really see this child of yours. Whether it is sleepy eyes in the morning, soft light through a window as your child contemplates their day or a beautiful smile, they suddenly become your favorite subjects.

As a new parent you want to capture those images and remember them forever. Who has a better opportunity to photograph your child than you? You need to learn to relax and enjoy the pleasure of making simple and spontaneous photos of your child.

Silly Child

Child Acting Silly

You Have The Inside Track

As a parent you have the inside track on your child’s looks, moods and special quirks. You have access to your child all day every day which provides an opportunity to record the full range of their activities, interests and expressions.

Have you ever observed the photographers at those malls or mega stores? They aren’t exactly tuned in to your child’s idiosyncrasies and often have a hard time overcoming your child’s shyness and desire to be private.

Your Child Has The Inside Track On You Too

But, don’t forget – your child knows you too. Somehow kids know just what buttons to push and a friendly photo shoot can go from “Come over here and let me snap a picture of you, you look so cute” to “Stop teasing your sister and get the dog out of the picture!”.

Before you know it you are frustrated and threatening to put your child in timeout or send them to their room, all because you wanted a special photo of them doing something they love.

Caution – Remember Why You Are Photographing Your Child In The First Place

Be patient with your little ones, even when they are misbehaving when they are a little older. Don’t be so concerned about getting that “perfect shot” and forget why you are photographing them to begin with.

Try working with your neighbor and have them photograph your children and you photograph theirs. You know you will be nicer to her kids than you are to your own!

Be Inspired!

Pay attention to your creative journey, past and present, which will help you develop your own style and signature. That style enables you to create more interesting and captivating authentic photographs of your kids.

If you were to ask 10 people to photograph the same child you would discover 10 different approaches, styles and photographs, because the eyes of each photographer are influenced by their past experiences and their personal tastes, so don’t be afraid to develop your own unique creative style.

Remember, keep taking lots and lots of photographs of your kids. You will be glad you did!
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Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer