Sometimes it is not the subject that makes for a great photo, but the details in the photo which help put things all together.  In this example, I saw this lovely girl relaxed while sitting on a clubhouse roof.  You would think that I shot this photo because of the girl, right ... wrong.  That was just a part of it.  What caught my attention to her was the tree in the background ... a natural backdrop.  I choose to use a fairly open f-stop of 6.3, but not so open that it was too blurry, just blurry enough to show off her beauty with no other distractions.  It helped that it was a cloudy day with even light.  I used a flash to fill in the shadows and she gave me a warming smile.  Everything came together for a lovely portrait.

Next time that you are looking to take a portrait of someone, think about the background and what you could use to enhance their beauty in a natural and complementary way.

Seeing The Background

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Toy Photos?

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Both the photos to the right have a toy quality to them.  This is to say, the look real, but then again they do not.  Was this by accident or on purpose?  In this case, it was done purposely.

There are a few ways that this look can be achieved.  In earlier days (old school) this could be achieved using a 'Tilt-Shift Lens'.  Tilt is used to control the orientation of the plane of focus (PoF), and hence the part of an image that appears sharp.  Meaning there is a specific area that is focused while the outside areas appear blurry.  In newer cameras, this is created in the camera with the use of a program setting, called a filter, which mimics the same effect.

The catch is, this does not work well in all situations.  The effect produces it's best results when you are photographing your subject on an elevated angle.  Either you are elevated above the subject, or the subject is elevated above the camera.  If you take these shots level or perpendicular to the subject, it will still work, but the effect is less pronounced, leaving you with a less appealing photo.

In both the photos here, you can see that I was elevated above the photo and the centre area of the shot is sharp, while the top and bottom have a blurred effect.  You will also notice the vivid colours.  This is by design and is a setting within the filter.  This helps to give that toy like look that I wanted to achieve in these photos.

If you have this filter in your camera, try it out!  Maybe at a ball game or form a building window. Just be sure to find a way to take the shot at an appropriate angle.

What to shoot ... what to shoot??

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What do you do when you can't think of what you should photograph next? Sometimes we get that creative block that gets in the way, and we feel a bit down as there is nothing else to shoot in the areas that we frequent often. When this happens, I like to look for objects and show how they are used and there-by create a 'work of' the work of art I was looking to create in the first place. In this example, I have an old camera from the 50's which belonged once to my father. I demonstrate the image as it appears in the viewfinder (reversed) and the setup of the actual shot as it would have been taken, thus making the connection between these two photos. 

Oops! It wasn't supposed to turn out that way!

How many times have you said that to yourself? How many photos do you take that do not turn out? How many times to you press the delete button after taking a shot because you made a mistake or the camera did not focus on your subject?

Are you sure you want to delete it? Take a look at it again. Some of the coolest shots I have ever taken have been accidentally. Alright ... almost always I delete such shots, but if you check carefully, you could end up with a rather nice abstract. So take a look again!

This shot I took while using a 600mm lens through some tall grass. As you can easily see that it is not in focus and did not turn out ... technically. However, as an abstract, it looks rather cool. So check those bad photos ... and check the photos of your children ... and you just could be pleasantly surprised! Even if it is only pleasing to you.

Accident ... or Abstract?

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Let your child try your camera out!

Do you ever take or like Macro or close up shots? Want to see some interesting close ups?

Try giving your point and shoot camera to a little boy or girl. Teach them how to hold it ... how to click it ... and make sure they use the strap!

Let them outside on a nice day and take photos of whatever they find! Bugs, flowers or leaves ... It's all good, and inspiring to a child!

Don't worry about composition of whether it is interesting or in focus ... there is only one lesson to learn, and you're the one to learn it! Just learn the simple joy that photography brings to a child's face when you let them capture their small world ... and learn that you don't have to be perfect to enjoy a fun art!

Stuck in auto??

Are you the type of person that always uses Auto mode when taking photos? It's ok to admit … I won't tell anyone! Do you like to take photos of people or pets? Would you like to try something different?

Try switching your camera to Portrait mode. Hey … don't panic over it, you can easily set it back (write down what it was originally set to). Some cameras have a dial on the top that you can turn from auto to Portrait (usually shows a side view of a face), some you can change it in the cameras menu. Please note that P on the dial is not the same as Portrait. See your instructions if you need assistance.

When using Portrait mode, the camera changes settings for you automatically to enhance the photo to give a more pleasing effect. It will produce better colour which is more pleasing to skin tones and will open the Aperture to blur the background a little to give a nicer and more professional result.

Give it a try! What are you waiting for? Take shots of your family and other loved ones, just like a pro!

Seeing spots??

Frustrated!! Spent so much time trying to edit a spot on a photo ... only to find it was dirt on my screen!! Agggh! OK ... so that never really happened. But there is a point here ... if you want to edit photos and wish to do your best ... make sure you are seeing your best! Clean your display before editing so you know what you are looking at!!

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