Monday, November 8, 2010

Holiday Challenge: Photographing the Thanksgiving Table
Few things stump the assigned family photographer like trying to shoot a large Thangsiving table populated with people and decorations. The traditional table shot is an important annual ritual, and because of this, it’s worth investing in a little bit of advanced planning time to make sure you’re ready when everyone sits down to celebrate.

Things to Bring:
If at all possible, bring a tripod and a remote trigger for your camera. A tripod will steady the camera and allow you to try different locations and angles to see what works for your particular situation. You will also want your lens cleaning kit nearby to ensure smudges don’t ruin your holiday memories. Better yet—consider our new Promaster HGX filter that has the exclusive REPELLAMAX Element Resistant coating which repeals moisture, dust, and fingerprints. Try the fingerprint test to see how well it works!
During busy holiday visits, you will also find extra memory cards handy. There’s nothing worse than running out of room on your memory card and trying to impulsively decide which images to delete to make room for new shots.

Lighting Considerations:
When photographing a long table with people seated from one end to the other, proper lighting is critical to making sure everyone is evenly covered. If your light source is far away from your subjects, the light will fall off gradually; however, if you are shooting close to your subjects (using a point and shoot camera, for example), the light from the flash will fall off quickly and can make those seated further away from you appear darker (because the light from the flash is diminishing and not giving proper illumination). Here are a few things to try:
  • Check available light around the table. Do you have windows that will provide light and how will this light change when it is time for everyone to sit down for dinner?
  • Ask a couple of guests to ‘model’ for you for a few minutes. Seat one close to the front of the shot and the other at the far end. Play with different angles and with light sources (lamps, overhead, etc) to see which best provide necessary fill light.
  • Try bouncing the flash off the ceiling to see if you can create a more even light stream across the table.

The Kids Table:
This is where the real fun happens! If you have a separate kids table, make them the stars in a few photographs. Try standing on a chair and shooting from the top down while they hold up their water glasses in a kid toast. With kids, playing with angles is particularly important because you want to capture the event from their perspective so shoot at their eye level—as adults, we often tower above them, especially when they’re seated.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Photographing Fantastic Fall Foliage
Fall’s beauty is in full bloom, and photographers across the country are clamoring to capture the amazing turn of seasons. The trees drip with rich colors resembling garnet and jade jewels, the cool air whisks away the remains of a hot summer and the air is filled with anticipation for family-filled holidays. If you’d like to take some of fall’s finest moments and tuck them away to enjoy once the snow falls and the trees’ leaves fade away, here are a few tips:

Shoot Early or Late
Consider shooting during sunrise and sunset hours for the best lighting opportunities as these times can help you capture the richness of color around you. The morning hours may yield the best results because the air will be cleaner and largely free of dust, smog and other airborne particles. Those minute flecks in the air can have an impact on the richness and clarity of your images.

Wait for the Clouds
If you’re trying to capture the vibrancy of autumn leaves and colors, patience pays. Overhead clouds can help retain the depth of color in the foliage whereas direct sunlight is often extremely harsh and can wash out the colors you are trying to capture.

Experiment with a Polarizing Filter
While it may not work in every situation, a polarizing filter can help in those situations where bright sunlight might flatten fall colors. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different tools during your session; when you take the time to try new things, you discover additional tricks to add to your photography arsenal.

Capture Contrast
The rainbow of colors fall provides is even more gorgeous when coupled with contrast. A ruby leaf paired with green grass or weathered wood can create a more powerful image than either item photographed alone.

Stay Simple
Part of the beauty of fall can be captured in its simplicity. Zoom in close and focus on a single leaf or a small cluster of them. Spend a few minutes surveying your surroundings to find the perfect subject. It may be something completely unexpected such as an unassuming park bench or a solitary bird.

Rain Reigns
If it happens to rain in the location you wish to photograph, celebrate! The images you can capture after a rain occurs may just take your breath away. The leaves are clean and vibrant and the rain will clear away dust and other items that may get in the way of the perfect shot.

Play with Settings
If your digital camera includes settings to shoot in ‘vivid’ mode or has options to adjust saturation, use those settings to determine if the results are richer than what you would create in your standard automatic mode. You can also experiment with ‘cloudy’ settings on overcast days. Being open to experimentation may bring images that surprise and delight!