Get Creative With Photographs Of Your Children

June 30, 2010

Today, cameras are no longer just cameras. Looking at the most common cameras in the local electronics store and you will find many models that not only take photographs, but record movies, sound, and do a lot of other things as well. For you, the parent, this is a great opportunity to get creative with photographs of your children.

It seems that camera manufacturers today believe a camera should do everything except wash the dishes and should play music better than your stereo system! In my opinion a lot of the extra features you find on your camera are just gimmicks, in my opinion. However, from time to time you may find some of them useful, and it is a good idea to learn as much as you can about your camera, and then push your camera to the limit.

For example, one of the compact digital cameras I really like to use to get creative with photographs of your children is the Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS
.

Sepia Photograph of Children Playing on the beach

Sepia Photograph of Children Playing on the beach

Here are some of the features on the Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS camera I like with respect to color:

The bottom line is that you can create some very interesting photographs of your children if you study your camera manual, experiment with your camera and get creative with photographs of your 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

ps: Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter “Real Kids Photography” here!

Photographing Your Children Through A Glass Window

June 29, 2010

Now, you might ask why would you want to photograph your child(ren) through a glass window, but the truth is some of the best photographs we can get are when the children have no idea that we are photographing them. If you happen to be in the house and glance out a window, you may see your children doing something very special that you just know they will stop doing if you go outside with your camera.

It is in these special instances that you need to learn about photographing your children through a glass window. The first thing you need to be aware of is the light in the room. Is it reflecting off of the window? Can you turn off your flash unit? How clear is your image through the viewfinder?

If you have a camera that you can use filters with, then a polarizing filter is in order for this kind of shot. A polarizer does a few nifty things for your photograph, but the most important one is that it will eliminate reflections caused by glass by blocking the polarizing light.

If you can use a polarizing filter, the one you want is a circular polarizing filter. A linear polarizer won’t work well for this kind of photography because it can confuse the camera’s light sensors.

If you use a polarizer correctly you can reduce or eliminate any glare significantly.

Photographing Children Through A Window

Photographing Children Through A Window

If you don’t have a camera that accepts a polarizing lens, then consider taking the photograph at an angle through the glass. Turn off any lights in the room, and if the window has ceiling to floor curtains get between the curtains and the window. This will effectively block any light from the room.


While not the best solution, it can get you some very intimate and interesting photographs of your children. They will not be aware of you, and without using a flash they may not even notice you, or know that you have taken their photograph.

The important thing here is to make sure and take a lot of photographs of your children as they grow up. They change so quickly that the only way to be sure you have an accurate record is to take lots and lots of photographs of them; and given how cheap it is with digital photography, why not?

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

ps: Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter “Real Kids Photography” here!

What You Should Have Inside Your Camera Bag

June 28, 2010

Ok, you are going to take a day trip, and you want to take some photos of your kids as they experience the trip. You grab your camera, head for the car and are on your way. The question is: what you should have inside your camera bag on this trip?

In fact, what should you always have in your camera bag?

If you think this is a stupid question, just take a moment and give it a little thought. Women always know that their handbags are not just for them: they are for husbands and kids as well. Husbands are always handing you things they don’t want to carry to you to put in your purse (like the car keys), your kids expect you to carry gum, aspirin and a first aid kit, right?

Well, if you want to be prepared for photographing your kids, then you need to use your camera bag for more than just your camera.

Sling Style Camera Bag from Real Kids Photography

Sling Style Camera Bag from Real Kids Photography


Here is a little list of what I suggest:

So, be prepared the next time you and the kids head out the door for a day trip and you want to get some great pictures.

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

ps: Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter “Real Kids Photography” here!

10mp Pink Digital Camera

June 25, 2010

You may have noticed that summer arrived a few days ago with summer solstice, and this means a lot more outdoor activities. One of my grand daughters, aged 11, got a 10mp pink digital camera as a gift from her father, and — to my delight — she loves it!

Of course, pink is her favorite color. Almost every item of clothing in her wardrobe is pink — socks, tops, shorts, pants, snow suit, bathing suit — you get the idea!

What I really like is that she is taking an interest in my favorite thing to do — photography! Her aunt was here yesterday with my grand daughters little cousin and out came her 10mp pink digital camera to snap away. Her new cousin is a chubby little girl just 3 months old, and cute as a button.

Once she took dozens of photographs she had to share them with me, and I must admit, she has the eye for photography. While she knows nothing of the “rule of thirds”, “white balance” or any of the other technical stuff (she is only 11, after all!), but wants to learn.

10mp Pink Digital Camera

10mp Pink Digital Camera


Her 10mp pink digital camera is a Canon 1200IS which works really well, and takes wonderful photographs. Frankly, I was surprised at that quality of the pictures. They were very rich with outstanding color.

I can’t wait until we download some of them and I can look at them on PhotoShop. I’m willing to bet there are some keepers in there.

If you have a youngster who has an interest in photography, encourage them. My experience is that young girls are more interested in photography than boys, and if you give them a really cool pink camera they really take to it — just like a duck to water.

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

ps: Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter “Real Kids Photography” here!

Taking Care of Camera Batteries

June 24, 2010

In case you weren’t aware of it, all digital cameras are battery hogs, so it is important to learn the best way of taking care of camera batteries. You shouldn’t expect the batteries in your digital camera to last too long because they are used for running a number of key camera functions.

Some of these functions are:

That’s a whole lot to expect from a couple of AA batteries, and in fact they really don’t last long at all, especially if you follow my advice and take a lot of pictures. Just to be clear, when I say take a lot of pictures I am talking about hundreds, not just a dozen or so!

We tried out a few different cameras to see how many photos of our kids we could take with the following results:

While 260 shots may seem impressive, realize too that this was a best case scenario. In real life you may not get that many shots of your kids!

Rechargeable-aa

Rechargeable-aa

Rechargeable Batteries vs Alkaline Batteries

If you are going to use your digital camera a lot, I highly recommend that you get rechargeable batteries instead of alkaline batteries. While 1-2 sets of NiMH rechargeable batteries may be more expensive to start with, along with the charger, in the long run you will be better off.

The more you use your camera the more obvious the cost savings will be. Once you purchase the first set of rechargeable batteries and charger, the next set will be less expensive.

Get The Most Out Of Your Batteries

Here are several things you can do to get the most out of your batteries:

If your batteries die in the middle of a shoot and you don’t have any spares, you can turn the camera off and then back on and may be able to get a few more shots in.

Using Batteries In The Cold

You can prevent most problems by just keeping your batteries warm. If the batteries get too cold the chemical reactions that generate power are inhibited and will simply stop working. Carry a spare set of batteries in your pocket which will stay warm from your body heat. Exchange for the cold ones, put them in your pocket, and then change again once the original batteries have warmed up.

Try Your Hand At Night Photography

June 23, 2010

Taking pictures of your children at night is a rewarding and exciting activity; unfortunately, digital cameras don’t always make it easy to do. On the other hand, because taking photos with a digital camera is essentially free, you can experiment and <i>try your hand at night photography.</i>

First of all, not every camera will work for night photography. If your camera is not capable of shutter speeds greater than one second you may have trouble getting decent photographs at night. In truth, your digital camera should have a manual exposure mode allowing you to set shutter speed by hand.

If you are shopping for a camera and are interested in night shots, try and get a camera with a bulb setting (like the Canon Digital XT camera), or at least a camera with a maximum shutter speed of 8 seconds or more.

In fact, a camera with a wireless remote control for the shutter is very handy for night photography, since you can activate the camera’s shutter without shaking it. If your camera doesn’t have this function, the try using the self-timer feature instead.

To start out taking photos of your kids at night I suggest you go to a lighted playground, the downtown are where there are a lot of neon lights, or even an amusement park to begin with. The idea is to find somewhere that has a lot of interesting lights and motion to try your hand at night photography.

Here are some suggestions to follow for your first nighttime pictures:

Photographing children at night

Photographing children at night

On the right you can see a photo of a child looking through a telescope at the moon. Note how the light from the moon provides the light we need to photograph this child. Think of interesting ways to try your hand at night photography with your own children.


After you have taken a lot of night shots you can compare them side by side to see the effect of increasing your exposure times. Remember, however, don’t trust your camera’s exposure meter at night because you can almost always get more interesting pictures by doubling or tripling the shutter speed suggested by the camera.

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

ps: Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter “Real Kids Photography” here!

Correct Your Images With White Balance

June 22, 2010

Many digital cameras come with a control for something called white balance which allows you to correct your images with white balance settings. White balance is important because different light sources have different color temperatures, meaning that when you photograph your child the image will appear to have a slightly different color tone depending upon the kind of light it is taken in.

You may have noticed this yourself without really ever paying any attention to it. You may have observed, for instance, that the light given off from regular light bulbs appears more yellow than the light which streams in from outside. And other sources of light — like candle light and fluorescent lighting — certainly give off very different colors of light than sunlight or ordinary light bulbs.

Photographers and scientists have gone to the trouble of cataloging the different color temperatures given off by various light sources. Higher temperatures appear warmer, or slightly reddish, while cooler light sources tend to add a blue tone to your pictures. It is not at all unlike the way a flame has different colors at its outside than in the center of the flame. Why? Because those different parts of the flame are at different temperatures.

Lets look at the color temperatures of several different light sources:

If your camera is set for one kind of light source — daylight, for instance — and you photograph your child who has been illuminated by a very different temperature of light — such as tungsten — the resulting image will not reflect the true colors in the photograph. What should be white will turn out looking a little reddish. This is why you need to be able to correct your images with white balance setting changes. Ordinarily, we don’t notice this ourselves, because the human brain is very good at interpreting what the eye sees. Our brain adjusts for different color temperatures so that the white almost always looks like, no matter what color of light we see our subject in. Of course, cameras are not quite that smart, and that’s why we need to adjust our camera for white balance.

The white balance setting on your camera allows you to pick out exactly what the color temperature of the scene you plan to photograph is. In most cases, your camera can automatically adjust to conditions. If need be, however, you can do it yourself. You will know that you need to adjust the white balance on your camera if your pictures routinely come out shifted to the blue or red end of the color spectrum. If your whites are not white — in other words, your camera doesn’t do a good job of correcting white balance — then you need to do it yourself.

A word of caution here. If you get into the habit of manually adjusting the white balance, remember to reset the white balance to auto when you’re done with each shoot. Otherwise, you might forget that your camera is balanced for fluorescent light when you shoot outdoors, and you wind up with very strange results.

Adjusting White Balance Presets

Most digital cameras will let you choose from a small collection of white balance presets. In addition to automatic white balance selection, your camera probably includes white balance settings for conditions like incandescent light, fluorescent light, an external flash unit, and cloudy or overcast days.

Choosing a White Balance Preset

Changing your white balance setting varies from camera to camera, but the process is typically fairly simple. For the specifics on your camera model, check your camera’s users guide. In general though, this is the process:

Setting White Balance by Real Kids Photography

Setting White Balance by Real Kids Photography

You can see an example of the menu setting in the image on the right.

Measuring White Balance Yourself

Sometimes, if you’re in a tricky lighting situation, such as a room that has both incandescent light and candlelight, you may need to set the white balance manually based upon the actual lighting conditions in the room. This may seem complicated, but it’s really not that hard.

Before you start, you will simply need one additional item: a white surface that the camera can use to set the white balance. Typically, you can get by with a small square of white poster board or typing paper. For better and more consistent results, though, I recommend that you purchase an 18% gray card from your local photo shop.

Professional photographers use small gray cards to measure exposure all the time, since the exposure meters in most cameras assume that images average out to about 18% gray overall. A gray card costs just a few dollars, and you will be surprised at how handy it is for setting the correct white balance.

To set the white balance yourself, follow these steps:

The camera will now expose any pictures you take using this new white balance setting. Be sure to reset the white balance back to automatic when you’re done taking these pictures; otherwise, you may try taking pictures a day or two later in very different lighting conditions and wind up with some very bizarre results because the white balance setting is completely wrong.

So remember, learn how to correct your images with white balance and the photographs of your children will be consistently better and more pleasing to the eye.

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

ps: Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter “Real Kids Photography” here!

How To Improve Your Indoor Photographs

June 21, 2010

When we photograph our children indoors we are often less concerned about harsh sunlight than we are about having enough light for our photograph and the proper color of light. If we are to create great images of our children then you need to know how to improve your indoor photographs.

In addition, the evil “red eye” is the nemesis of many an indoor photograph as well. For the most part, however, for common snapshots of your children indoors it is probably just fine to use the automatic camera settings and the internal flash unit.

But, if you really want to get great indoor photographs of your children there are a few things you can do to move the odds in your favor.

Use The Best Indoor Light – Window Light

Using Window Light Photographing Children

Using Window Light Photographing Children

Natural light will always be the best light, so whenever possible position your child near a window to take advantage of the natural light pouring into your home through the windows. Here are some tips on using this kind of light:

How To Avoid Red Eye

Remember, the dreaded “red eye” is what happens when the camera flash reflects off of your child’s pupils. You can see this effect on any living subject, but it appears particularly spooky on dogs. The important thing is that red eye occurs more often when photographing your children indoors, underlining why you need to know how to improve your indoor photographs.

Now that you know what causes red eye you can learn some easy ways to avoid it. Here are three common ways to avoid red eye when photographing your children:

Correct The Color Balance

The color of artificial light, like the lights bulbs in the home, is entirely different than the color of natural outdoor light. And that means that different kinds of artificial lights have different colors.

Because of these variations in color many indoor photographs just don’t look right. The good news is, though, that you can adjust for different light sources with your camera settings. Called white balance, it will help you make sure that you get natural colors in the photographs of your children regardless of what type of artificial light you use.

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

ps: Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter “Real Kids Photography” here!

Reflect Some Light On Your Children

June 18, 2010

Better Than Flash

A second source of light is just the ticket to eliminate shadows, reduce contrast, and even out the lighting in your pictures. Sometimes you can do that with fill flash, and sometimes a small reflector will do the job just fine.

A reflector many times is better than a flash unit, because the light from a reflector is softer, and that typically makes for much better pictures of your children. In other words, it is always better to use natural light — and that includes reflecting it — than the use of electronic flash.

Reflect Some Light

There are two ways to get into reflectors: the cheap way and the expensive way. Believe it or not, you really don’t need an expensive reflector from your local photo shop in order to move light around — you can enjoy a lot of success just using a glossy white sheet of poster board. Purchase a sheet of poster board from your local art supply store for a buck or two and try it out.

Flashpoint 5 in 1 Reflector System

Flashpoint 5 in 1 Reflector System


The problem with poster board, of course, is that it is often difficult to carry around. For a more compact reflector solution, the cover photo reflector at your local camera store. Personally, I really like Flashpoint collapsible disc reflectors.


These clever little reflectors fold up so small that you can almost put them in your pocket. Take them out of the bag, however, and they pop open to a variety of handy sizes. I use the Fashppoint 32″ 5 in 1 set of reflectors that measure a Little over 2 feet across, and I find that’s a great size for most of the things that I want to photograph.

When you are ready to take a picture with your reflector, you will probably need some help. It’s very difficult to hold the reflector and take a photograph at the same time. So instead of trying some seed of photographic gymnastics, ask an assistant to hold the reflector. So that the light reflects from the sky onto your child. Try to have them hold the reflector to minimize shadows or lumen eight the dark side of your child’s phase.

You Can Bounce Light

If you’re digital camera has a hot shoe or input for a flash synchronization cable, you can attach an external flash unit for additional light control over your photographs. I love using flash units because the flash head tilts. This means that you can tilt the flash so that it reflects light off the ceiling or wall, thus diffusing the light and creating a softer effect in your photograph.

Be sure that you’re not reflecting light off of colored walls, though, or the reflected light might paint your subject some rude shade of yellow. You may also want to disable the built in flash unit on your camera when you use an external flash unit. Check the camera’s menu system for flash controls, try different ways, since some pictures can benefit from dual flash units arriving on the scene from different directions.

Reflectors serve a second important purposes well. When you are out in the field trying to take a picture, the wind can sometimes get in the way. You’ll notice this most often when you’re trying to take a close-up of a child and their hair is blowing in the wind. The solution? Compose your picture so that you can use the reflector not only to add light to the scene, but also to serve as windbreak. That’s right, reflectors can block the breeze and give you a more stable picture.

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

ps: Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter “Real Kids Photography” here!

Improving Your Outdoor Photographs

June 17, 2010

Beware of the sun

When you’re photographing your children outdoors, always take a quick look at your watch. By that I mean that there are better and worse times during the day to take photographs. The worst time of all is probably mid day, when the sun is directly overhead. The noon sun creates extremely harsh shadows and casts unflattering light for almost any kind of photographic session when the extremely bright light (particularly in the summertime) can tend to overwhelm a digital camera.

So, what is the alternative? Well, you can shot your photographs earlier or later in the day. Professional photographers traditionally like the warm colors created by the Sun in the late afternoon, but shooting photographs of your children in the morning is almost as good. If you are traveling, or on vacation. For instance, you want to get some very good pictures, plan your photo sessions for the early morning hours and then again for later in the day.

A great compact camera with built-in flash and zoom features

A great compact camera with built-in flash and zoom features

If you make a conscious effort to take your best pictures before or after the high noon sun, you’re halfway home. You also need to think about the position of the sun in the sky. In the old days photographers were taught to take pictures with the sun to their back. The reason was very simple: the sun would best illuminate the subject.

Unfortunately, if you are photographing children, the sun would blast that light right into their faces, causing them to squint. That made for some mighty ugly pictures. A much better solution is to position the sun over your left or right shoulder, but no matter where you place the sun, don’t shoot towards the sun unless you are intentionally trying to photograph the sunset or a silhouette.

Use fill flash

while most people think of their cameras flashed as something be used at night or in the dark, is also a great way to improve the look of your photographs during the daytime. Set your camera/2 it’s forced flash mode, and use it to shoot portraits of your children and any other outdoor photographs of them. You will find that the flash fills in shadows quite nicely, dramatically improving the quality of your images. You may be surprised, in fact, just how much full flash can do to improve photographs that you thought were pretty good to begin with. Remember, you will need to be fairly close for this to work. Stay within..

Creating Silhouettes

Another cool idea is to photograph your child as a silhouette — in fact, new photographers do it all the time. They just don’t always do it on purpose..

The easiest way to photograph a silhouette of your child is simply to position yourself so that the child you would like to silhouette is arranged against a bright background, such as the sky. Point the camera directly into the sky and slightly depress your camera shutter release — that locks in the exposure based on the bright sky. Then, recompose your picture of the child and shoot. What you’ll most likely get is a grossly underexposed subject, since the exposure was based on the brighter sky. If your child isn’t quite silhouetted, you can underexpose the image even more using the EV controls on your camera. You may also want to use your camera’s spot meter to lock the exposure on a brighter piece of the sky.

You may discover that the child is out of focus because the camera focused on infinity when you pointed it at the bright sky. If that’s the case, check to see if your camera has a separate exposure lock button and use it. If not, you may need to set the exposure manually or focus the camera manually instead. One way or another, when your subject is too close to infinity you need to find a way to separate the exposure and focusing aspects of your camera.

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

ps: Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter “Real Kids Photography” here!

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