Learn Digital Photography

February 26, 2010

We have been going through some of the elements of digital photography in order to help you learn some of the best techniques to use when photographing your children. Each post has been meant to help advance your knowledge and to encourage you to continue to photograph your children.

But perhaps you are more interested in delving deeper into the subject, and to learn even more about digital photography. Whether you have a point-and-shoot camera or the latest Canon or Nikon digital camera the more you know about digital photography the better the photographs you will create.

As you improve in your photography skills and compare photographs you took earlier on with the ones you can take today you will be amazed at how much you have improved. I don’t know about you, but when I am looking at photographs on the internet or tv some really leap out at me with their clarity, and how they strongly draw my eyes to the subject the photographer wanted me to concentrate on.

Well, I have recently reviewed a great product that can help you achieve those kinds of results. The program is called 123di (1,2,3 Digital Imaging), and was written by a professional photographer who began his career at the age of 11.

Vincent Bockaert has an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School at Northwestern University, and he has combined his lifelong passion for photographer with his deep interest in computers, software and digital technology.

Over the years he has developed algorithms to seamlessly transform digital images, published digital imaging content on the Internet, extensively researched image enhancement methods, alpha and beta tested several software packages, developed Graphical User Interfaces, judged digital imaging contests, and conducted digital imaging seminars.

Now you too have the opportunity to benefit from his work and learn how to take great photographs of your children for yourself. Take a tour of his website at www.123di.com where you can learn more about his product and even view some demos about this wonderful product.

Again, you can find this wonderful photography course at www.123di.com.

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

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Clothing

February 24, 2010

Taking photographs of children is a challenge, but we want to record the life and history of each of our children through photography. Sometimes we just have to take what we get, when we get it, and hope for the best.

But on other occasions we have some options. For example, when we know we are going to take a trip to someplace interesting like a park, playground, museum or fair, we can use a little planning to assist our photographic efforts.


Clothes Make The Kids

Clothes Make The Kids

There is a saying that “clothes make the man”, and in child photography we can say “clothes make the photograph”. Kids are so cute when they are young, perfectly proportioned, full of life and energy. We want to capture those attributes in our photographs, and the right clothes can make a big difference.


For example, my kids would simply pick out their favorite pants and shirt without regard as to co-ordination, and for the most part I did not care. But when you are going to take photographs, a little planning can go a long way. I love to photograph kids in Osh Kosh jumpers with brightly colored shirts.

So, when I know we are going on a special outing, I will pick out what I want them to wear and set it out for them the night before. I explain why I want them to wear those clothes, and usually it is not a problem. Kids don’t think about clothes, they are just excited to be going on an adventure, so co-operation is usually not a problem.

The next time you go on an outing plan ahead. Pick out some clothes your kids look great in, and work with them ahead of time so that they don’t resist you. Believe me, clothes may not make the child, but they sure can help.

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

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Using Lines

February 22, 2010

One thing about children, they are always in motion. However, from time to time they will stop when something catches their attention, and if you are ready you can catch an interesting image. As you frame your photo it pays to be aware of the natural lines which are available as you get ready to take your photograph.

Lines come in many varieties including parallel lines, diagonal lines, converging lines, straight lines and S and C curves. By being aware of the lines around your subject you can use them to create some very interesting images.

In composition parallel lines can be very useful, particularly when taking photographs outdoors where visual lines are often formed by horizontal planes created by land and sky. In this case the best photographs come if you divide the framed view into thirds placing the subject child’s eyes along the top third parallel line when the photo becomes more pleasing, less static and more balanced.

Example Of Diagonal Leading Lines

Example Of Diagonal Leading Lines


Diagonal lines can give the impression of motion to your photograph, and be created using such things as shadows, paths, roads or even railroad tracks like the photograph on the right.


Converging lines also can be very powerful as they lead the viewers eyes directly to the subject of the photograph. For example, a child leaning against a brick wall with about 1/3rd of the photograph having the wall in the foreground naturally leads the observers eyes directly to your subject.

Exploring curving lines is one more way to explore lines as you learn to compose your photographs. Although the diagonal leading line is more direct and powerful, a curve is a more subtle and gracious way to direct the viewers eyes. Photographing children on curved paths gives a sense of freedom and adventure with forward movement, security and direction.

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

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

The Golden Rectangle in Photography

February 18, 2010

Photography and painting are related as we have discussed in an earlier post about the Rule of Thirds. Perhaps more important is the theory that when God created the world he used mathematics, and in particular Fibonacci number sequence where each new number is the sum of the previous two numbers.

The result of these numbers turns out to be a spiral known as the Spira Mirabilis, and this spiral can be found throughout nature in such things as the shell of a nautilus.

The relationship between the Fibonacci sequence and the Golden Rectangle comes from a visual representation of the sequence geometrically. By using successive points to divide the Golden Rectangle into squares creates a logarithmic spiral known as the “Spira Mirabilis”.

The Golden Rectangle On Top Of The Rule Of Thirds

The Golden Rectangle On Top Of The Rule Of Thirds


Simply stated the Golden Rectangle in photography refers to using a 3:2 aspect ratio in framing a subject. Many times when using the 3 to 2 ratio it appears the same as the Rule of Thirds, and if we overlay the Rule of Thirds over the Golden Rectangle as in this image to the right you can see the relationship between them.


This lead to the concept of perfect composition by the famous photographer Cartier-Bresson who learned this from the visual training he received from the Cubist painter Andre Lhote. Starting in 1928 Henri Cartier-Bressen studied painting under Lhote, and this training eventually lead to what he called “The Decisive Moment” in photography.

Cartier-Bressen never cropped any of his photographs, instead relying upon applying the visual learning he acquired from studying with Lhote. All of his photographs were framed within the geometry of a 35mm film frame.

This attitude requires concentration, a discipline of mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry.” By looking at several of Bresson’s photographs, we can clearly see the close relationship between his compositions and the Golden Rectangle. The amazing thing is that, unlike a painter who can create his compositions at his leisure, Cartier-Bresson had to discover them in the unpredictable and relentless tempo of everyday life.

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

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Color Temperature or White Balance

February 17, 2010

Color temperature refers to the color of light in an image. If you look at a photograph you took indoors without flash lighting the image will have an orange cast to it. If you take a photograph of a subject outdoors when it is overcast you without flash lighting you will see it has a bluish tinge to it.

Both of these cases highlight how important color temperature can be regarding your images. Digital cameras have eased this problem with the gift of white balance, but you need to know how to use it properly. If you have done any experimentation at all with your digital camera you may have found that Auto White Balance doesn’t solve every problem.

If your images have weird colorcasts to them (like too yellow, too blue, greenish and so on) it means that your white balance settings aren’t working the way you would want them to. So you need to check out your camera’s manual, or go through the menus on your camera, to see if you can manually set the white balance to match the type of light you are shooting in.

Here are a few examples of lighting situations that might trick your Auto White Balance and require you to choose a specific white balance setting on your camera:

Daylight: Digital camera settings are geared towards daylight photography, but if you place the child in shadow or overcast the image might wind up with a blue cast, or if in the early evening light you might wind up with a yellow cast.

Flash: Flash units are balanced to daylight color temperatures, and using a flash might be the best solution if you are having problems with colorcast.

Fluorescent: When shooting under fluorescent light your image may wind up with that sickly greenish skin tones. If you are shooting under fluorescent lights see if your camera has Fluorescent setting in the White Balance menu.

Tungsten: Tungsten is just a fancy name for our regular light bulbs and gives an almost orange light, giving your photos a warm look and feel.

Shade: Shooting images in shade can end up having a bluish cast, so select Shade on the White Balance Menu of your camera if available.

Custom White Balance: Check your camera’s manual and see if your camera has a Custom White Balance setting. This is the manual way of setting your preset white balance options correctly.

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

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Photographing Children In The Fog

February 16, 2010

OK, so the weather isn’t great, its early in the morning, and you want to photograph your children because they have been doing something real cute lately while playing outside, and there’s fog! As parents we know there’s a time to catch the action or the opportunity will go away to never return.

Children have this way of moving on once they get bored with doing something, so it is very important to be prepared for those rare occasions when they have come up with something truly unique and interesting. The one thing, however, that we can’t control is the weather. Here we are with fog; what do we do?

Actually, this isn’t a disaster, but just another opportunity to work with light. In this case the light will be very soft, and it gives you the chance to photograph your children in a lighting situation that lends itself to creating a mood, or feeling. There is something peaceful and calming about photographs in fog that give the photograph an extra element of interest.

Child and Mother in Fog

Child and Mother in Fog


It’s time to use the AV, or aperture priority function, on your digital camera. All of that white mist can fool your exposure into thinking there is more light available than there really is, and that will cause your photograph to be under exposed. Therefore you will need to open up the lens wider, by at least one f-stop, so that the color in the photograph will be balanced.


Observe the photo on the right, and look at the quality of the lighting. Notice the colors, experience the feeling conveyed by this photograph.

Fog comes in different consistencies, ranging from light to thick, high to low, and can change minute to minute. If you want to use fog to your advantage avoid high fog because it will not create the beautiful haze which will cut down on contrast.

Keep in mind that fog can cause your flash to engage, and you do not want to use flash in fog because the water droplets will reflect the light and look like dots in your photograph. On the other hand, fog can give the photograph a mood which conveys gentleness, quiet and sensitivity.

Your photographs will have a more painterly quality to them as you photograph against a light background. Colors will be more muted, and the whole photograph will convey this feeling of time and mystery.

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

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Light Modifiers

February 12, 2010

Light Modifiers

If you go to a photography store website you will discover that there all kinds of devices available to modify light in one way or another. You really don’t need to spend any time researching all of these. Light modifiers come in three basic categories:

  1. Reflectors
  2. Diffusers
  3. Gobos

You have seen reflectors, I am sure. Sometimes you see them used on television, or perhaps you have been to a portrait studio, and sometimes even in mega store or mall photo shops.

Many times they look like an umbrella, other times they look like the same material you see on space vehicles. No matter, they all serve the same purpose: to reflect light.

You will recall we discussed bouncing flash off of a neutral surface like a wall or the ceiling when we need fill flash to fill in the dark background behind our subject. White walls make great reflectors, or commercial reflectors you set up or have an assistant hold.

Using Sheets As A Reflector In Child Photography

Using Sheets As A Reflector In Child Photography

As you think about it you will realize reflectors are everywhere. For example, in the picture on the right you see a small child under a blanket on some sheets. In this case the sheets serve as a reflector.

Diffusers, on the other hand, are used to spread out the light that is shining on your subject. If you find yourself faced with a harsh light situation you can use a diffuser to soften the light. There are commercial diffusers, but you could use something else like translucent drapes or a white sheet between the light source and your subject.

If you are using flash, you can put a diffuser on your flash unit itself, or you could purchase a diffuser from your local photo store. In any case, a diffuser does exactly what it sounds like – it diffuses the light.

Gobos are used to block the light altogether. You place a gobo between the light source and the subject in order to completely block out the light source. Sometimes commercial reflectors will have a gobo, or black side, on the reverse side of the reflector.

When would you use a gobo? When there is too much light on your subject, or when you want to create a mood, or perhaps a halo around the head of your subject. Blocking the light from one side of your subject can also create that Rembrandt-like look.

Again, as you learn more and more about light your photography will improve and you will begin to create some rather stunning images. So study the light, learn the light, make the light your friend!

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

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

The Direction of Light

February 11, 2010

No matter whether you are working with direct or indirect lighting, the direction from which the light is coming is very important to consider as you start photographing your child. Luckily, children look good in almost any light, so that makes them the ideal subject to experiment with lighting in your photography.

Light from the front, or direct light, is usually the most flattering kind of light, and is almost always used when photographing models. Front lighting is also called Flat lighting because placing your subject face on to the light gives your subject the most flattering picture because it creates shadowless light that disguises all the texture and or imperfections in the skin.

Using Direct Light In Photographing Children

Using Direct Light In Photographing Children


The broad light source from flat lighting usually provides a large enough area to allow the subject child to roam around a little bit while still in nice light. Another benefit is that you will not need a flash, or speedlight, in order to properly light your subject.


As you can see in the photo on the right there are no shadows, the skin texture looks great and if there were any imperfections in baby’s skin they most likely would not show up in this photograph.

Again, direct light refers to light which falls directly onto the subject from its source. Direct light is light that has not been diffused by anything nor has it been reflected or bounced off of anything else.


Tomorrow I will discus reflective light as we continue to explore the role of light in photographing children.

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

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Main Light and Fill

February 10, 2010

As we have talked about in the past, light is one of the most important things to learn about in photography. Light can be your friend or your enemy, depending upon how well you understand it and how much you are able to use it in your photography.

The other side of light, shadow, can also be very useful; however, today I will discuss the use of light. Light can be categorized in two ways – main light and fill light.

Main light is that light which provides the primary illumination of your subject. Fill light, on the other hand, is exactly what it sounds like – light that you provide to fill in those areas of your subject that are in shadow.

Main Light Example

Main Light Example


If you look at the photograph on the right you can clearly see an example of main light, that is, the light which is coming from the both the front and right hand side of the child illuminating the image clearly.


You will also notice the shadow of the child extending slightly behind and off to his left. You can see that his pants have a shadow on them, but his face is clearly visible in the photograph. This is because I used fill flash from the camera in order to make sure the child’s face did not have any shadows falling across it.

This is an example of how to use fill flash. Fill flash comes from a flash attachment, usually called a speedlight, attached to the camera and adjustable. By adjustable I mean it can be aimed in one direction or another rather than straight at the subject like you would have from a point-and-shoot camera.

Many times it is beneficial to aim the flash at something above or to either side of your subject, preferably which is white or at least a neutral color, in order to fill in the areas in shadow so that the entire subject can be clearly seen.

If you need to soften the light from the flash, you can diffuse it by placing some type of material between your flash unit and the subject so that the light is softened, eliminating any harsh shadows or washed-out skin tones.

One or two pieces of vellum tape placed across the front of the speedlight can soften the light enough so that your subject does not look star-struck from the flash.

Whether working with direct light or indirect light, it is important that you understand light and how best to incorporate it into your photographs.

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

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Why You Should Shoot In The Raw

February 9, 2010

Well, you may be surprised but I love Christmas, and I still have our Christmas tree up. Today I finally got around to taking some photos, one of which was of a red ball I particularly like. I had to use flash, so as you can see in the top photo there was some reflection on the ball, and I didn’t get quite as much depth of filed as I wanted.

However, because I shot in the raw I was able to work on the image to get it exactly the way I wanted it. Using Adobe PhotoShop
I was able to take the raw image and make corrections without destroying any of the quality of the photograph. This is an example why you want to shoot your photos in the raw, if you can.

Shooting In The Raw

Shooting In The Raw

It also demonstrates why having a detachable flash unit is very handy. I was able to reduce the flash by 3 f-stops as well when I took the picture. Using a DSLR camera with flash will give you a lot more flexibility than your typical point-and-shoot camera; however, it will be far more expensive to purchase.


The top photo is the one shot in the raw, the one on the bottom is the result after working on it. As you can see I was able to remove the reflections from the flash, and I was able to get the color more true to the actual color of this ornament. While it took a little time, you can see it was worth the effort.

If you don’t have Adobe PhotoShop
I would really recommend that you get it; it will help you create better and more interesting photos as you develop your photography skills.

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

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Next Page »

Starter Canon Rebel Camera

Purchasing a digital camera can be confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Learn what you really need to know when purchasing a digital slr camera for the first time.               read more ...

Don’t Ignore Photographing Your Children!

Childhood is such a precious yet fleeting time. A baby arrives in our life and from then on we are immersed in a   read more...

Pictures On Canvas

Isn’t technology great? Film, slides then images on a computer to share. But those great photographs can do so much more. In the digital age we can use them to decorate our home or office.  read more ...

How To Photograph Your Children

We all love to have wonderful photos of our children, documenting their growing up and preserving the memories of our family lives.   read more...

Unleash Your Creativity

Don't let those great photographs of your children get lost in a drawer! Safely upload them to a trusted, established website with FREE membership to get prints, share and more.   read more ...

Are You Wasting Those Great Photos Of Your Kids?

Once you have taken some gorgeous photos of your children, what do you do with them? Often we download our digital photos ...   read more...