Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Shoot Pictures like a Pro

I always wondered how much a Digital SLR would cost, which National Geographic guys use. Definitely, Photoshop plays a big role, as much as the high Mega-Pixel Digi-Cams, in these razor-sharp images. But photography, which is a revived art now (thanks to the new digital wave), has brought new challenges along with these new super-cool cameras and SLRs.

I was reading a few articles on how to master this art of digital photography. Here's a compilation of what all I have read. Special thanks to DCMag

The basic concept behind photography is 'Light'. Light (dim) also poses the maximum challenge to a photographer. So how can you overcome this problem? We’re into the realm of low-light photography here. But don’t worry! Your pictures needn’t be blurred and orangey. With a few nifty tricks up your sleeve and a basic understanding of color balance, exposure and creative flash techniques, your low-light shots can be as good as anything taken on a bright and clear day in spring. So let’s take a look at some of the best ways to turn those indoor photos and party pics into images you’ll be really proud of.

Mastering indoor flash
There will be times when the light’s just not bright enough to get the shot you need. Using flash is the answer, but it can be a very harsh form of illumination and often results in bleached-out faces and red eyes. If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated external flashgun for your camera then you can tame this wild and unforgiving light.

If you have a separate flashgun or Speedlight, then bouncing your flash off the ceiling or a wall is a great way of softening the effect of a flash. It basically uses the ceiling as an enormous diffuser to spread the light around the room evenly. If your flash is the fixed type then you could try taping a piece of white paper in front of the flash tube to diffuse the effect.

Find a window
The winter light may be weak but the watery light of a low sun through a window can make the perfect setting for a really great portrait. If you use a reflector or a large sheet to reflect back some of that light you can produce a truly evocative portrait. Use a tripod and a remote release and then talk to your subject without looking through the camera. Set the person at ease and watch the effect of the light as you move the reflector around. Some of the best portraits are shot using this simple Rembrandt lighting technique.

Keep noise down
One way you can capture lifelike pictures in low light is to boost your camera’s ISO setting. Great idea. So why not keep it racked up all the time? Well, turning up the ISO is like winding up the volume on a stereo during a quiet passage of music. You can hear things better but you also get a load of hiss and other noise. A similar thing happens when you amplify the signal from a camera’s CCD. A lot of visual noise can spoil the shot with unattractive artifacts.

Most DSLRs perform at sensitivities up to ISO 400. By the time you get to ISO 800 the noise is starting to show. If you need a higher shutter speed by all means boost the ISO, but don’t overdo it! If you find yourself dialing in too much ISO, switch to a different low-light photo technique.

Use a tripod
Slow shutter speeds are great for really impressive indoor shots but the slower the shutter speed, the greater the risk of camera shake. If you’re shooting without the benefit of fl ash then you really should use a tripod for those low-light shots. Make sure the tripod is a sturdy model and use a remote release if you have one. Some DSLR cameras enable you to lock the mirror up for these types of shots in order to cut down on vibrations.

Shoot a candlelit portrait
A shot illuminated by a candle makes for a very romantic image and is well worth trying. Don’t adjust the white balance, as you probably want a fairly orangey glow in this sort of shot. Use a tripod and an ISO of around 400. Ask your subject to be as still as possible to avoid any blur as your shutter speed is likely to be well below 1/30th second. Underexposing works better too, otherwise the candle flame may be overexposed. Shoot using Aperture Priority (Av) mode and choose your widest aperture (this will be the smallest f-number your lens goes down to, f/3.5 for example). Holding your exposure compensation button, which will be a square divided with + and - icons, twist your camera’s dial until it reads -1.0. This is equal to minus 1-stop of compensation, which should avoid any overexposure of the candle flame.

Blend light
A good way to soften the effect of the flash indoors is to set your camera to Shutter Priority (Tv) and turn the shutter speed down to around 1/30 sec. The flash will still illuminate anything in the foreground, but the slower shutter speed will capture some of the ambient light in the room to soften the effect of the flash tube. This is the way pros shoot and gives satisfying results you can be proud of.

The same effect works even with separate flashguns and bouncing techniques.

Shoot three shots
The action of pressing the shutter on your camera can introduce camera shake and hence result in a blurred photo. Switch your camera to Burst or Continuous mode and keep your finger on the shutter for three shots. You’ll find the shooting mode either in your camera’s menu or as a separate button on the body. The first and last shots may be blurred as you put your finger on the shutter and take it off again, but the one in the middle will often be perfectly sharp. That’s how the pros do it!

No comments:

Post a Comment