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Common Subjects

Shoot Fabulous Photos Even on a Cloudy Day

Filed in Miscellaneous, Tips by on April 27, 2017 0 Comments
Shoot Fabulous Photos Even on a Cloudy Day

Depending on who you ask, cloudy days are either an awesome time to take photos, or they are a terrible time to take photos. So which one is it? Read on to find out. Continue Reading »

How to photograph the weather

Filed in Miscellaneous, Tips by on April 27, 2017 0 Comments
How to photograph the weather

When you read this article’s title, you probably thought it was just going to be another tutorial about photographing the rain, or the fog, or rainbows or snowstorms. But in this case, I am going to be talking about photographing the weather as an entity – because the weather isn’t just about the temperature or what falls from the sky, it’s also about how those things impact us and the world around us.
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How to Photograph School Plays and Performances

Filed in Children, Tips by on April 6, 2017 0 Comments
How to Photograph School Plays and Performances

Over the years, I’ve talked to a lot of moms and dads about family photography and some of the common challenges they face. Complaints vary, of course, from getting moody teenagers to smile to capturing sports and other fast action. But one of the events that almost every parent tries to photograph that seems to cause the most frustration is the school play.

Many (if not most) schools have an annual play production, complete with costumes and props and a homegrown script. It’s a big moment for most those pint-sized stars—getting on stage in front of all those parents can be nerve-wracking, but every kid who does it experiences intense pride in what she’s accomplished when it’s all over. For this reason alone, parents attend those stage performances armed with their cameras and determined to capture the best photos possible. But so many of these parents come away from the experience frustrated and disappointed with the results. What can be done to guarantee good results when photographing plays? Read on to find out.
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How to photograph the Great American Eclipse

Filed in Sun, Tips by on April 6, 2017 0 Comments
How to photograph the Great American Eclipse

If you weren’t planning to do any travelling this summer, you might want to do a little rethinking. Unless, of course, you’re lucky enough to live in a 68 mile-wide band that stretches across the US from Newport, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina.

On August 21, 2017 the United States will be treated to the first total solar eclipse visible in the country since February of 1979—although the totality itself will only be visible to people living in or visiting that 68 mile wide band. For the rest of the US, only a partial eclipse will be visible—still a photo-worthy event, but not as spectacular as the total eclipse.
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How to Photograph Mischief

Filed in Children, Tips by on March 17, 2017 0 Comments
How to Photograph Mischief

I know, you hate it when your kids act up. No parent loves to find scribbles on the wall, broken family heirlooms on the floor or the dog wearing a pink tutu (well, maybe that last one wouldn’t be so bad), and no parent loves to have to discipline a child who isn’t behaving the way she’s expected to. But mischief, whether parents like to admit it or not, is a natural part of being a child. So it may surprise you to hear me say that I think you should photograph it.

Now of course, this is a challenging task no matter how you look at it. You know you don’t really want to encourage your children to be naughty, and as soon as you get that camera out to record their naughtiness, you’re sort of endorsing it. So you need to come up with some ways to capture mischief without making it seem like you’re giving permission. That is a challenging task. Read one for some ideas about how to do it.

##The blackmail photo

Every parent should have one of these. You know exactly what I’m talking about—it’s that photo of your child doing something really cute and funny, which will embarrass the heck out of him as he gets older. For example, I have a friend whose extremely macho 11-year-old, who, as a toddler, used to enjoy wearing his mother’s high heels. That is a photo that you absolutely must have, not only because it’s cute and funny but also because you can use it in the future as a viable threat for good behavior. “Make sure you come home by curfew, or your girlfriend is going to see that picture of you in high heels!”

Now, I will say that this is the sort of photo that needs to be kept under wraps—posting it on Facebook or framing it and hanging on the wall would just be plain cruel and I really am (sort of) kidding when I say you should use embarrassing photos as tools for blackmail. But it is the sort of mischief that you really do need to record on camera, not just because it laughably embarrassing, but also because it will remind you of some of the innocence of childhood, especially once your child has left that phase and moved on into the difficult tween or teenage years.

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-3273013/stock-photo-mommys-shoes.html?src=fSZW797d9SdUKxcHrQFf1Q-2-44

##The aftermath

Have you ever turned your back just for a moment, just for a split second, and when you turned around again you found yourself viewing the aftermath of an unprecedented disaster? Children have an amazing capacity for destroying things in new and interesting ways, and at dizzying speeds. And if you can get past your initial distress, these are the types of images that you should capture for posterity. Let’s say, for example, that your child has found a box of powdered laundry detergent or a bag of flour, and decided to pretend that he’s playing in the snow. This kind of disaster can happen very quickly—often in just the time it takes for you to step away to the bathroom. No parent is immune, no matter how much you think you might be, unless all of your stuff is locked up or stashed in high places.

Laundry detergent all over the floor is going to be a huge mess, for sure, but it’s great fodder for photography in the meantime. Those flour/soap covered hands and faces are going to be adorable all by themselves, but a photo of your chubby little angel sitting there with the powdered destruction all around her is going to be something that will make you smile for years to come. Maybe not during the next hour while you’re cleaning it all up, but trust me, someday.

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-420723289/stock-photo-cute-baby-girl-covering-her-messy-painted-face-with-her-dirty-hands.html?src=DprwtMaRHGt_QrBlauVJNQ-1-4

When you’re photographing this scene, make sure that you include both child and disaster. Get down to your child’s level, and try to make the disaster look even bigger than it actually is. One way to do this is by placing your focal point on a pile of flour or detergent and letting your child fall out of focus in the background. Likewise, if the disaster had anything to do with a black sharpie and/or a white wall, you can stand at somewhat of an angle to the new mural, select a narrow aperture to give you broad depth of field, and fill the frame in such a way that the graffiti appears to go on forever. Include your child in that shot too, of course, and although I’m not sure of the wisdom of asking him to wield the tools of his trade, I think you need to include the black sharpie as well.

Now again, you need to do this with some discretion. You don’t want your child to think, “Mom loves it when I make it snow in the house!” or “Mom loves it when I decorate the walls!” You can take these photos while still conveying a sense of displeasure, for example, “I am texting this picture to your father so he can see what you’ve done!” will give you both an honest and valid reason for photographing the mess without also condoning it.

Children also like to turn those markers on themselves, so if your child decided to paint himself red so he could become a baby dragon, or brown like a werewolf, that will be a pretty awesome picture too. And take it one step further—get some shots of him in the tub while you are trying to scrub all those bright colors off. Or have fun with it and have him act the part—a brown werewolf or a red baby dragon chasing little sister or the dog around the house is going to be a pretty hilarious photo.

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-188997893/stock-photo-little-dirty-child-having-a-bath.html?src=ZjL9Em1Np0nt1560rEDuCQ-1-13

Sometimes it’s just a matter of letting go of your own personal hang ups—sure, your child wasted an entire tube of paint and sure, it’s going to be a pain to clean it off of him but there’s something to be said for giving his creativity free reign. Let him role-play a little and see what happens.

##Innocent mischief

There is such a thing as innocent mischief. How do you know when it’s innocent mischief? Because it’s mischief that bugs you, but in a very harmless sort of way. For example, your child may like to flip mindlessly through the channels on the TV set. That’s enough to drive anyone bonkers, but if it’s a habit of his, or he thinks it’s particularly hilarious, get your camera out. You might actually be surprised to discover that your camera can be used a little bit like reverse psychology. If you suggest to your child that you might be endorsing his behavior by taking a picture of it, you may find that he actually doesn’t think the behavior is so much fun anymore.

Whatever the end result may be, try to get a picture that lets the viewer know exactly what’s happening in the scene. Your child wielding the remote control and laughing hysterically is going to get that message across pretty well. Now, there may be some differences in interpretations—if your viewer doesn’t know your child, for example, she may think he’s just laughing at his favorite cartoon. That doesn’t really matter so much, as long as your images are well composed, and do a good job at conveying the silliness of the moment and your child’s personality.

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-45876175/stock-photo-smiling-little-boy-holding-a-remote-lying-on-the-floor-in-the-living-room.html?src=mIXr47YWhYHRJqCGq4btFQ-1-9

You should also strive to capture a moment that you will be able to identify later on down the road—so make sure that you capture that moment as honestly as you can. That may mean taking a series of images—one of your child wielding the remote, and a couple of them over his shoulder with vastly different television shows on the set. On a similar note, mischief is nearly always accompanied by giggles (maybe not your giggles, but almost certainly the giggles of your child). Make sure that you are able to capture the spirit of the mischief as well as the mischief itself.

##Naughty mischief

Let’s say you catch your child in the act of some seriously naughty mischief, like throwing the cat in the swimming pool or drawing a star on the side of your car with a rock. Now, no one is going to argue that you should hide out in the bushes and take a picture of this while it’s happening, oh no, you need to save the cat first (or save your paint job). But you can photograph some of what happens after the event, and those photos can serve some very important functions. First, I promise you that one day it will seem funny when you think of that poor, dripping wet cat or your child’s beautiful but all too expensive art work. And as far as the family history book goes, it’s still going to be an important event because it represents a learning moment for your child, and maybe for you, too. And it may also serve as a stark reminder for your child of the importance of good behavior.

So how can you capture these moments without capturing the mischief in-progress? We’ve already talked about shooting the aftermath—the dripping wet cat (or the process of toweling him off) can be one way to record the event. But you want to record the lesson, too, so a photo of your child in time-out or looking longingly at his siblings while they play video games and he doesn’t will also serve the purpose.

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-182845139/stock-photo-wet-cat-after-a-bath-wrapped-in-a-towel.html?src=iW6OYfM5lghJO4JCNOJlkA-1-0

##Conclusion

Again, don’t think that taking a picture means you’re telling your child it’s OK to misbehave. A good scolding afterwards is always helpful. And if they ask you why you took a picture if it was something they weren’t supposed to be doing—be creative. Tell them you want to make sure they remember how much trouble they got in on that day, and the best way to do that is with a photo. Whatever you do, don’t avoid taking the picture, and if you do have to hide in the bushes with your 400mm lens, well, I’m not going to say anything. What’s important is that you’re capturing a broad slice of family life with your camera, and that includes anything worth remembering, whether it’s good or bad, naughty or nice.

##Summary:

1. The blackmail photo
2. The aftermath
– Get down to the level of the destruction
– Make the destruction look bigger than it is
3. Innocent mischief
– Make sure the moment is identifiable (at least to you)
– Capture the spirit of mischief (facial expressions, etc.)
4. Naughty mischief
– Photograph it, don’t condone it

What is focus stacking?

Filed in Macro, Tips by on March 2, 2017 5 Comments
What is focus stacking?

At some point, just about every photographer turns his attention away from those more obvious subjects, and points his camera at the things that we don’t often see—those tiny, thumbnail-sized things that we pass by every day but rarely stop to appreciate. Macro photography is a very attractive genre for many photographers, and it’s becoming more accessible as camera technology improves, and the cost of dedicated macro lenses goes down.

But if you started shooting macro without a whole lot of formal instruction, you may have noticed that your macro shots don’t look like a lot of those beautiful macros that you’ve admired on Flickr, or in magazines like National Geographic. To understand what I mean, keep reading.
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Representing Invisible Subjects: Electricity

Filed in Miscellaneous, Tips by on March 2, 2017 0 Comments
Representing Invisible Subjects: Electricity

Personally, I think invisible subjects have some of the best creative potential. Clearly, photographing something invisible is a challenge. Wait, how can you photograph something invisible at all? Read on to find out.
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How to photograph starbursts and lens flare

Filed in Sun, Tips by on February 23, 2017 0 Comments
How to photograph starbursts and lens flare

There was once a time when lens flare was considered a bad thing. No, really. It was an anomaly, something to be avoided. Today, lens flare is something we like. We use it for artistic and creative purposes. And only on a few occasions does it show up when it isn’t wanted. So how can you use lens flare creatively and effectively in your photos? Read on to find out.
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Ask David: why are my sunsets so boring?

Ask David: why are my sunsets so boring?

There are a few experiences that are common to pretty much every photographer. One of those experiences is photographing sunsets. Now, depending on where you are on the learning curve, you may find photographing sunsets to be intensely rewarding, or you may find it to be hugely frustrating. Just about every beginning photographer has had the experience of standing in front of the most beautiful sunset ever, taking a photo, and then being completely underwhelmed by the results.

It seems like it really should be the easiest thing in the world to point a camera at a beautiful sunset and get a fabulous picture. But it doesn’t work that way. Read on to find out why. Continue Reading »

How to photograph a solar eclipse

Filed in Sun, Tips by 0 Comments
How to photograph a solar eclipse

There was a time when a solar eclipse was considered a bad thing. The ancient Greeks believed that solar eclipses only happened when the gods were angry, and that natural disasters and general destruction were not far behind. The Vikings believed that when an eclipse happened, it was because hungry wolves were eating the sun. And in many cultures, a solar eclipse was said to portend death—King Louis the Pious died shortly after witnessing a solar eclipse, believing that it was a sign of God’s displeasure.

Today, of course, solar eclipses are just cool photography subjects. And they’re easy to photograph, too, provided you have the right equipment and a little bit of know-how. Keep reading to learn more.
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How to Photograph Kids (who don’t want to be photographed)

How to Photograph Kids (who don’t want to be photographed)

We all know about moody teenagers, right? In fact it’s almost a cliché—mom takes camera to event, mom points camera at moody teenager, moody teenager ducks behind another person or object in order to avoid being photographed. It’s maddening. And if you are the parent of that reluctant photographic subject, even more so. Continue Reading »

How to capture personality-filled animal photos

How to capture personality-filled animal photos

There’s no doubt that you love your pet, and if you had to say why, I know you could come up with a myriad of different reasons. And I’d bet money that one of those reasons would be “his personality

We love our pets in part because their fun and funny personalities make us smile, and because in a world of furry faces each animal is his own unique individual. So although you may have hundreds of portrait-style photographs of your pet, how many do you have that actually do a good job of letting your viewer know what his personality is like? If your answer is “not many,” then you need some strategies. Keep reading for my best tips on how to capture personality in your pet photos. Continue Reading »

How to Photograph a Rodeo

How to Photograph a Rodeo

If you’re already an old hand at shooting sporting events, you may think you have the rodeo thing figured out. How different could it be? In any sporting event, things move fast, so you need to use a fast shutter speed to get clear pictures. Isn’t that all there is to it? Read on to find out. Continue Reading »

Photographing death tastefully

Photographing death tastefully

Death is not a subject that most of us like to talk about. It’s inevitable, but we like to pretend like it isn’t. So it’s not really something that we like to represent with our photography, either. After all, how can photographing death possibly be done tastefully? Read on to find out. Continue Reading »

Creative Pet Portraits

Creative Pet Portraits

If you’re like most pet-owning photographers, you have close to a billion photographs of your favorite dog or cat. Well maybe not a billion exactly, but let’s face it, your pet might actually be the most photographed pet in all the world. You’ve got pictures of him sleeping, you’ve got pictures of him sitting, you’ve got pictures of him standing around and you’ve got pictures of him just being generally adorable. But unless you’ve really spent some time thinking creatively about all the different ways you might be able to photograph him, the chances are you don’t have many images that have that real “wow” factor, or the ability to really impress someone who doesn’t already know your pet well. In this article, I’m going to let you in on some secrets for fun and unusual pet portraits that aren’t like anything you have in your current photo album. Read on to find out more. Continue Reading »