Posts Tagged ‘Tips’

Photoshop Quick Tip – How to Change the Color of Your Workspace

Posted in Photoshop, Quick Tips

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to change your workspace color, as shown in the above image. Here I have a photo I took on Block Island. The default workspace around the photo is a pale gray: To change the color of the work space, all I have to do is “right click” anywhere on the area of the workspace. This will bring up a menu. The default “Gray” has a check next to it: I can set it to”Black” or I can select a custom color: I’d like to make a custom color of dark gray. I’ll click on the Select Custom Color option and the color picker will come up. I’ll drag the white circle to a dark gray area. I’ll be able to see the color I choose in the preview box. Then I’ll click OK: Here is what it looks like with the dark gray workspace: If I should change my mind and decide I want the workspace back to its default setting, all I have to do is right click anywhere on the workspace. Then choose the “Gray” option: Here’s a sample of different colors to choose from:

Basic Rules for Better Photography

Posted in Photography

It’s one thing to take a picture, but another to take a photograph. There are some basic rules that can help you take more interesting and eye catching photographs. Once you have the basic rules down, you’ll become more observant of the photographic opportunities that are around you. This is important in creating your “eye” for photography, and in creating your own style. It will be the difference between a snap shot and a photograph. Rule of Thirds: The “rule of thirds” has been around for centuries, and is the most recognized rule of composition used in photography and the arts alike. The rule of thirds states that the frame can be divided into three horizontal and three vertical sections. Photographs work better when the area of interest is placed off-center. I took this photograph using the rule of thirds. The balloon is off to the left. I usually put my center of focus on the left because in most parts of the world we read from left to right. This is more appealing to the viewer’s eye. They see the center of focus to the left and continue to look toward the right, taking in the rest of the image: Simplicity: The “simplicity” rule is just that. You should keep your photo relatively simple. If you’re zoomed in close to your main subject, make sure that the background is out of focus or make sure that nothing in the background stands out, causing any distractions. You don’t want anything pulling your eye away from your main subject. Here I have a photo of a tulip’s base, a very simple composition. I came in close, and whatever background you see is blurred out — there are no distractions: Leading Lines: The “leading line” draws your eye deeper into the photograph, and commonly to the main subject. The leading lines also direct your eye to an area of the photo that might not have been noticed otherwise. You have to be careful using leading lines. You don’t want them to distract the viewer or lead them away from the main subject. Here’s a photograph that I took in Death Valley, California. In this photo, there are a lot of lines leading up to the top of the mountain. The lines keep your eyes moving up the image. Lines can also go horizontal or vertical. Leading lines can also be rivers, roads, tree branches, bridges, or even building architecture: Straight Horizon: Talking about “straight horizons” may seem a little obvious and not necessary, but you’d be surprised to find how often it’s forgotten. Good thing this is an easy fix in most software programs: Framing: “Framing” natural surroundings thoughtfully can add more meaning and focus to your subject. The surrounding can be just about anything, from tree branches, bushes, and even doorways. Make sure that you are focused on your main subject, and use a high f/stop for depth of field. Here I took a photo of a golden monkey at the Bronx Zoo. I zoomed in close to get rid of any distractions behind the monkey. Then I used the tree branches to frame the image: Perspective: Sometimes a change of perspective can add impact to a photograph. Think about changing from your norm. Try crouching down, or moving to the left or right. Better yet, try to take a photo from a different angle, through a window, or a doorway, or even an archway. Experiment with lenses. You could even invest in a fisheye lens, which will give you a whole new perspective on everything: Color: Color in a photograph can create emotion and mood. Blues and greens are cool. Yellow and orange are warm colors. You can also use colors to create certain effects. Like a “wow” factor when colors jump out at you: Symmetry: Sometimes you just have to forget about the rule of thirds, and just plop your focus dead center, just because it works. Symmetry can come at a price; some may say it’s not interesting enough or even boring. Don’t listen to that. Subjects that work well with symmetry are landscapes and flora: The most important thing to remember about photography besides the rules, are “have fun” and enjoy what you’re doing. Then you can think about the rules. When you’ve finely tuned your skills, you can go ahead a break the rule. Now that’s a lot of fun.

White Balance While Using a Flash – Blue Photos

Posted in Photography, Quick Tips

Ever take pictures of friends and family inside or even outside, and your photos have a blue cast while using a flash? Maybe you even got used to the color and thought that it’s just the way the camera takes the photo. Well, it is the way the camera takes the photo, until you change one easy setting. The white balance — no matter what other setting you have set on your camera, while using the flash it’s important to have the flash setting on your camera “on”: Here I have an image of a mannequin head. I took this with my flash, but the setting on my camera was set to “Auto”. The image has a blue cast: Here I have the same image that I took with the flash, but I also had my camera setting set to “flash”. See the difference between the two images? The same goes for outside photography. Here I took a shot of a bird feeder I have in my backyard. For the first image, I used a flash with the camera setting on “Auto”. For the second image, I used a flash, and had my camera set to “Flash”. See the difference?    In some images the difference is subtle, but in other cases the blue cast is overwhelming. Just remember when you are finished using your flash, to put it back on “auto”. Simple, easy tips can be very useful.

Portrait Tips

Posted in Photography

With every portrait, the main focus is the subject. To keep the main focus on the subject, you’ll need to get in close. Having too much distraction in the background takes away from your subject, be it a person or animal or a flower. For example, not too long ago I went to a Civil War reenactment. There were soldiers in costume and regular everyday people walking around together. How do I get a good shot without all the distractions? I saw some soldiers coming off the battlefield and decided to get in close. It was the only way to get the effect I was looking for. A soldier sat down in front of a tent which was under a tree. Perfect. I came up beside him and took the picture. I didn’t want him to see me because I wanted the shot to look as natural as possible. I find that sometimes if a person knows you’re there and ready to take their picture, they get an unnatural look. In this shot I used my Nikon D2Xs, with an 18mm-200mm lens, and an 800 DX speedlight with a diffuser. For more of an authentic look to the image, I turned it into black and white in Photoshop. A very important tip for when taking a portrait shot is to make sure the subject’s eyes are sharp. When you talk to someone or meet someone, the first thing you do is look at the eyes. The same thing is true with a portrait of a person or animal. Here is an animal example. This was my dog “Precious”. She was an excellent subject. Always looking cute. All I had to do was say “cheese” and her ears would pop up and she’d stare right at me. A lot of images that I have of her are snapshots, not portraits. The snapshots are images with lots of distractions around her. In my daughter’s room, on my daughter’s unmade bed with my daughter still in the bed too. This time I decided I wanted a portrait of her, and not just a snapshot. I put her in a swing in the backyard and made sure that there weren’t any distractions around her. I put my camera on a tripod and used a fill flash. With the promise of cheese, she was very corporative. There is definitely a difference between the two images. The main thing to remember when taking a portrait shot is.
  1. Move in close.
  2. Be aware of distractions in the background.
  3. Try to keep the eyes sharp.
  4. Be aware of lighting conditions. Keep the sun off to the left or right of the subject.
  5. ALWAYS enjoy taking photographs!
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