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Common Subjects

How to Photograph Puppies

How to Photograph Puppies

Okay, so it’s true that I’ve already written a tutorial or two about photographing dogs. So you maybe asking yourself, “how is photographing puppies any different than photographing dogs?” Well, if you’re asking that question, you’ve obviously never had a puppy. Puppies and dogs sometimes almost seem to be different species. There’s the older dog who would really rather warm himself by the fire than go chasing after a stick, and then there is the puppy, who’d rather chase that stick than do just about anything. One animal is quiet, well-trained, and easier to capture with your camera, the other one is always on the move, doesn’t know the meaning of the word “sit,” and thinks the lens of your expensive DSLR might actually be an extension of the stick he was just chasing a few minutes ago.
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How to Photograph your Flower or Vegetable Garden

How to Photograph your Flower or Vegetable Garden

Not everyone has a brown thumb like mine. We’re talking terrifyingly brown, like toxic rays of plant-killing energy emanating from my thumbs at all times brown. If you’re one of those fortunate people who is not like me and has a way with flowers and vegetables as well as a way with a camera, you have a constant source of photographic inspiration in your own backyard. Keep reading to find out how to take fabulous photos of your garden.
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Photographing Flocks of Birds

Photographing Flocks of Birds

As photographers, we’re often told to avoid chaos. “Keep it simple” is one of the many rules that we try to follow, which is why you may find it difficult to photograph flocks of birds. What could be more chaotic than a bunch of shrieking geese or a flock of pigeons? But the good news is that it is possible to capture some sense of order in those crazy flocks, you just need to have a plan. Keep reading for some ideas.
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The GoPro: it’s not just for extreme sports

The GoPro: it’s not just for extreme sports

If you don’t already own a GoPro, you’ve at least seen them. The most common place to find a GoPro is attached to helmets or bicycle handlebars – they’re extremely popular amongst people who are active or are into extreme sports. But GoPro’s are great for other purposes as well – you don’t need to jump off of a cliff or out of an airplane to get good use out of one. So what else can you do with a GoPro? Keep reading to find out.
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Conquering Four Common Kid Photography Challenges

Conquering Four Common Kid Photography Challenges

I don’t pretend to know how to solve your discipline problems or how to get your kids to eat their Brussels sprouts, but I can give you a little assistance with some of your most common kid photography issues. Children are not known for being the easiest subjects to photograph, although there is certainly a sliding scale of simple to difficult, depending on the individual child. Some kids ham it up for the camera, which may or may not be a good thing, and others run as soon as they see you and your camera coming.

The thing about taking photographs of kids is that kids grow up fast, so what you don’t want to do is avoid taking photographs in challenging situations, because you don’t get a chance to go back and do it again once those kids are grown up. So let’s take a look at some of the most common challenges you’re likely to face when photographing those wonderful little people in your life, and how you can cope with them and overcome them.
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How To Photograph Books

How To Photograph Books

Hey, do you remember those things people use to buy? You know, they had a lot of paper in them, and they were held together by a cardboard cover, and there were a bunch of words? Books! Yeah, that’s what they were called, they were called books. You might want to take some photos of them before they disappear from our world forever. Read on to find out how.
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Photographing Boys

Photographing Boys

There are two kinds of kids in this world, those who like to be photographed and those who don’t. Whichever kind your toddler boy, preschooler, grade schooler or teenager might happen to be, the challenges of photographing him are going to be somewhat different than the challenges of photographing a girl.

That’s not meant to be a statement that has any gender bias in it, although I realize that it can be perceived that way. All kids are individuals and you can’t really lump photography techniques into “this works for boys” and “this works for girls.” Now having said that, it is a fact of our society that boys and girls are often raised a little differently and therefore present different challenges when you’re taking pictures of them. But again, it’s hard to generalize because what works for one boy or girl might not work for another. So this article is just meant to address some of those common issues that may arise when photographing boys, and how you could potentially cope with them. It won’t work for everyone, but it might help in certain situations.
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Getting The Most out of Macro Mode

Filed in Macro, Tips by 0 Comments
Getting The Most out of Macro Mode

There was once a time when you needed a DSLR and a pretty expensive macro lens in order to capture excellent macro photos. Sure, you could add screw-on close-up filters and extension tubes to a regular lens and use that to get pretty close to your subject, but that still required that you own a DSLR. If all you had was a point-and-shoot or other camera without interchangeable lenses, you were pretty much out of luck.

The digital age has brought lots of innovations in camera technology, and one of those innovations is that you are no longer required to own an expensive SLR camera in order to take amazing close-up photos of small objects. Today, most point-and-shoot cameras have a macro mode, which allows you to get anywhere from 10 cm to up to 2 cm away from your subject. That means you can focus in on incredibly small objects and get richly detailed photographs of those objects without having to spend a fortune on equipment.
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How to photograph bats

How to photograph bats

If you have ever tried to photograph birds, you probably thought to yourself, “These have got to be the most difficult animals to take pictures of.” And you’re not completely wrong. Birds are challenging subjects – they are flighty (literally), they are small, and they are fast. You need a lot of patience and a pretty long lens to get a good picture of them. But they are not, in fact, the most difficult animals to take pictures of. That honor belongs to another flying creature – the bat.
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How to photograph reptiles

How to photograph reptiles

Animal photography always presents challenges, depending on the animal and the situation. Wild animals, of course, are elusive, which means you often need a telephoto lens and a certain amount of patience to photograph them. Pets are easier, but making a playful dog sit still long enough for a photo or a curious cat resist the temptation to put her nose in the lens are challenges you might encounter even with the most photogenic of pets. No what about reptiles? They are neither friendly nor playful, and yet they can make for some incredibly interesting and engaging subjects. Read on for some tips on how to photograph them.
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Photographing the school days

Photographing the school days

Parents love milestones. If you are a parent, the chances are pretty good that somewhere in your photo album you have photos of all the milestones — first bath, first steps, first solid food, etc. And you probably also have a few “first day of school” images. But what about the day to day routine of primary school, learning, and school related activities like field trips and plays? Sometimes these activities become so routine and ordinary that we forget to capture them. And there’s nothing like looking back at your grown child’s album of memories and realizing that one of the most important chapters in his life went seriously under recorded.
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How to photograph a meteor

Filed in Stars, Tips by 0 Comments
How to photograph a meteor

If you’ve ever spent any time photographing the night sky, you are aware of the challenges. Despite what we see with our bare eyes, the stars are not stationary. They move across the night sky all night long, and because they only come out in darkness, that makes them tricky to photograph. Even trickier to photograph are those objects that we can see move with our own eyes — I’m talking, of course, about meteors, or falling stars.
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Photograph your camping trip

Filed in Nature, Tips by 1 Comment
Photograph your camping trip

Everyone loves camping. Well maybe not everyone – some of us love our showers more than we love the great outdoors. But the fact remains, camping is one of the most popular family pastimes. If you are a part of a camping family, and if you have ever had the experience of looking at all of your camping photographs and wondering why they all look the same, keep reading for some tips and tricks on how to capture unique camping photos every time you go on the road with your tent (and your camera).
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Photographing Spiders Webs

Photographing Spiders Webs

Animals, insects, and moving creatures of any kind can be difficult to photograph, for different reasons. But if you are like the 30% of Americans who describe themselves as arachnophobic, spiders can present an especially difficult photographic challenge. Now, I’m not a psychologist nor do I pretend to know much about the treatment of arachnophobia, but if you simply cannot imagine yourself getting close enough to a spider to photograph it, then I have an alternative suggestion for you. Why not photograph a spiders web instead? Read on to find out how.
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Representing invisible subjects: How to photograph music

Representing invisible subjects: How to photograph music

What? That’s craziness. You can’t photograph music–music is something you hear with your ears, it’s not something you see with your eyes. So how can you photograph sound? Read on to find out.

Music is common to every human culture, just as visual art is. Music soothes us, from infancy to old age. When we are introduced to a new person, one of the questions we often ask that person is, “What kind of music do you like?” Everyone has an answer, whether it’s country, classical, or hip-hop, and everyone who loves music also appreciates photos that represent music, whether they are album covers, photos of our favorite musical stars, or abstract images that feature instruments.

##How to capture the idea of music

Yes, it is true, music is something we hear, it is not something we see. However we do have very strong visual associations with music, for example, we know what sound the piano makes, and when we see an image of a piano we don’t have to be told what kind of music will come out of that instrument. Even instruments from other cultures that we may not be familiar with can still spark the imagination. Musical instruments, even strange ones, are easy to identify as musical instruments, and it’s therefore natural for us to imagine the sounds that they might make. Even if we are wrong, it doesn’t matter—we’re still inspired to think about sound when we see images of those things with our eyes.

Now there are number of ways you can approach music photography – you can photograph the instrument, you can photograph the musician, or you can photograph the people who are experiencing the music. All three approaches can be used to communicate the idea of sound and harmony, but you need to photograph these subjects with those ideas already in your head.

Let’s start by taking a look at some examples.

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/cool-guy-sitting-guitar-on-gray-560464798

In this first image, we see a musician holding his instrument. This is a portrait—it tells us something about the musician but it doesn’t necessarily say “music.” The subject is holding his guitar, so we understand that he is a musician, but the image isn’t really about the music, it’s about the person. Intellectually, we understand what that guitar would sound like if he was playing it, but because he’s not playing it there really isn’t a reason for us to think specifically about sound. Now let’s look at a different example:

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/this-guitar-sounds-great-handsome-young-145140631

In this image, the musician is strumming the guitar. It’s a nice photo, but even though we can imagine the sound of the guitar being strummed, there’s no emotion in the scene. Music is an emotional experience, which means that we need to see that emotion before we can really make that leap from sound to music. So the expression on the musician’s face can tell us a lot–if there is no emotion in his expression, we can just as easily imagine that he is just tuning up the guitar or strumming a few isolated chords rather than playing an actual song.

##Now let’s take a look at our third example:

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/portrait-japanese-man-guitarjapanese-musiciana-low-170372363

In this image, the subject is clearly making music. We can see that his instrument is actually being played (he’s clearly not tuning it or just warming up), and there’s an expression on his face that connects the music to an emotional experience. There’s also drama in the image because of the way it is lit. The lighting is low and the image is very low-key, and low-key images tend to come across as being more dramatic. And let’s face it, your favorite songs are probably somewhat dramatic—heartbreak, political outrage, romantic love—these are all dramatic themes that tend to occupy the lyrics of most modern songs. So the light in the scene can help create drama, which will really add to that feeling of actually being able to hear the music that we are only seeing in this photograph.

##Instruments

Here’s another example of a photograph that says “music:”

Strings

Now, why does this image of an instrument on its own seem so musical, while the instrument being held by a musician who is not playing does not? That’s because in the example above, the person is equally as important as the instrument. We automatically assume that the photo is about him, and not about the music that he might create with that instrument, simply because he is not in the process of actually playing. On the other hand, an instrument photographed on its own can only be about one thing–it is about the tool that is used to make music, and hence it is going to feel more like a photograph of the music itself. Again, photographing an instrument with dramatic light will help bring out that those musical qualities in the image itself. We think of music as being a dramatic thing, so dramatic lighting going to make us feel like we are experiencing music as a we look at the tools that are used to create it.

##Now let’s look at a fourth example:

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/silhouettes-people-concert-front-scene-bright-572251555?src=WD40bBY9JwmGs1IDgu_DCQ-1-33

In this image we see the complete experience of music. Because we are looking at the people who are affected by the music, we are connecting with them. That connection makes us feel as if we are experiencing the music too, even though we don’t instinctively know what the genre is or even what band is playing. But because the photographer has captured the emotion that is often connected with live music, we are getting a very strong sense of sound in this image.

Have you noticed the common thread between all of the examples we’ve seen so far? Is it the light. The light is dramatic, and music is dramatic, so we can imagine that we are experiencing music just based on the way that the scene is lit.

##Abstractions

Another way that you can capture music in a photograph is by taking an abstract or symbolic approach. A musical note is one very obvious way to represent music in a symbolic manner—everyone knows what a musical note is and what it represents. But I know you can be more creative than that—let’s look at an example so you can see what I mean.

The guitar king

In this image, the photographer used light painting to represent music. It’s an abstract representation because there are no musical notes or other obvious symbols, but the light appears to dance in the way that we perceive music to dance, in the sense that it rises and falls in a rhythmic way. Because it is so visually close to the way that we hear music with our ears, it’s easy to make that mental translation from visual input to auditory input, even though we’re not technically hearing anything. Now, would this depiction work if there wasn’t also a musical instrument in the image? It might work visually, but it probably wouldn’t remind you of music, because we need that literal cue (the instrument) to appear in the frame in order for us to make that leap from the thing we’re seeing to the thing we might actually be able to hear if we were present in that scene.

Regardless of your approach, the key to capturing great music photographs is to try to make that connection between what you’re seeing and what you’re hearing, and then make sure that you are capturing that connection in your photograph. Most of the time, it’s going to be an emotional connection. Music can make people experience joy, grief, love, anger … there really isn’t an emotion that can’t be expressed through music. But the good news is that all of those emotions can be expressed through photography, too. So if you can capture the visual representation of music at the same time as you capture the emotion that exists in the scene, you can be pretty sure you captured the music itself. If you’re not sure, ask someone. Pass your photos around and ask viewers to tell you the first couple of words that come to mind. If “music” or “sound” is one of them, then you’ve done your job.

##Conclusion

You don’t have to be a musician to be able to hear the music in a photograph, you just have to be a human being who is capable of having the profound experience of connecting to music. Really, doesn’t that describe all of us? As long as you keep that music in your head while you are creating your photographs, and you think about the emotions that are experienced by both the people creating the music and the people listening to it, you cannot fail to capture photographs that seem to sing.

##Summary:

1. Photograph a musician playing an instrument
– Make sure to capture emotion
– Use dramatic light
2. Photograph the instrument
– Use dramatic light
3. Photograph the crowd
– Try to capture emotion and drama
4. Create an abstract representation of music
– Musical symbolism
– Painting with light