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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Photography Tips & Flash

I was not sure what to write about today because nothing new is happening in my life. A whole lot of cleaning, washing, and blah-di-blah-da-boring stuff. However, a friend whose blog I always read, wrote about not wanting to post pictures because of the time she needs to upload them, and the quality of her photographs. So I gave her a few of my tips that I have learned lately. However, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to tell her. That is how I came to this blog post.

My first recommendation to anyone using a Point and Shoot (otherwise known as P&S) or DSLR would be to invest in Photoshop Elements. It is not that expensive (especially if your child wants it, and you can get the education version), and what a fun program. It will organize your pictures, load them in minutes, and let you make lots of changes. There are a ton of websites out there that offer lots of free advice/tutorials, and it makes for great bedtime reading material.

I also offered her tips on trying to use natural light on her subject instead of indoor lighting. Shoot your subject close to a window if you can. The more light, the more details you will be able to see in your photo. I sometimes use my reading lamp to take pictures of the clothing I sew. Watch out for shadows! I tend to find mine way too often in the pictures. If worse comes to worse, use your flash. I always did, and the pictures never bothered me. Yes, they tend to be blueish, and not warm, but oh well a memory is a memory, right? Sometimes, you just have to say, what the heck!

And speaking of flash, that brings me to the topic I have been trying to research. I know that Christmas is coming, and I own a Rebel XS. It is at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to DSLR's. I am happy that I have it. But.......well, it would be incredibly selfish of me to say that I wanted a better camera already, when this one is not even 7 months old, right? I guess I am selfish then, because yes, I would love to upgrade. That is a whole other topic. Let's move on. So here is what I found out about Flash Photography.

1. Always check what is behind your subject - like mirrors or glass - because the flash will bounce right off, and you will end up with a large bright spot on your picture.

2. Make sure your battery is loaded (fully charged). Your camera needs all the resources to feed that flash, so making sure the battery is loaded is a must.

3. Remember that the strongest point of the flash is right in the center. The light "falls off" or becomes weaker the further it has to spread. So make sure you have your subject focused in the center of your picture. Also remember, when photographing groups to keep them bunched up as close as possible. If they are standing behind each other, then your first subject will appear alot lighter then the rest of the gang.

4. Turn off the flash if you can. Why? Because the flash throws a harsh white light into the cozy warm picture you wanted to capture. Of course, if you are trying to capture alot of detail, then it may just be what you want. Place your camera on a tripod. Use the self-timer if you have one, for a longer shutter speed. (See below blog post for Shutter speeds). The camera needs about a 1/2 of a second for the Shutter speed, which will result in blurriness.

5. If you are celebrating a birthday party at night, then you may want to use a flash gun. They are more powerful then the flash on your camera. You can bounce the flash off the walls to soften the harsh light. "An external flash offers the user greater versatility with models that tilt, swivel, and many that can be positioned well away from the camera body. An external flash can create lighting from different angles and can be bounced off of a white ceiling or reflector to significantly soften any shadows and reduce any glare. An external flash is often able to recycle in less than a second and thus allows multiple shots to be taken in rapid succession." Red-eye is reduced.

The first photo above was taken without a flash, however I used additional lighting from my reading light. The second photo was also taken without a flash and no additional light.  Of course I had to edit both of them.  The first photo needed an adjustment to the white balance and the exposure.  I may have warmed it up a bit.  The third photo was taken with a flash and is Straight out of the camera.  So you be the judge and tell me which one you like the best.

I am currently reading Scott Kelby's book on Digital Photography, and I just love his books. He writes with such wit and keeps his book entertaining. I suggest looking his name up in Amazon to see everything he writes about.  He also has a book out on Photoshop elements.  Try it you may like it.  BTW, Adobe has a 30 day trial for all of their programs.  A word of caution......once you start playing there is no turning back. LOL.
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