Archives for posts with tag: photography techniques

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I love to attend photographic seminars to gain new insights and learn more about the craft that fills my passion. I’m signed up for one with Scott Kelby on May 12 in San Diego. He’s a pretty gifted photographer and Photoshop guru, and I remember the last class I took from him in which he gave me some really good pointers.

One was: if you photograph a beautiful subject, you are starting on third base.

I had the pleasure of photographing a young woman last week for her college graduation announcements (she is also an Aztec). But I have also known her since she was a very young girl, as she’s one of my niece’s best friends. I had so much fun with her and her mother as we started shooting on campus, then headed east to the mountains, where she was raised. These two are so much fun and just pleasant people to be around.

I loved photographing Kelsie because she is so nice, but also, because she is so beautiful. I was able to capture some images that pleased her and her mom (and even me) because of her natural beauty. With Kelsie, I started on third base. She made my job easy by being blessed with great genetics. But her true beauty is in her lovely and kind soul.

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Congratulations on your upcoming graduation from SDSU, Kelsie Rae. In a little over three weeks you’ll be an Aztec alum. I’m proud of your accomplishments, but mostly I am proud of the young woman you have become.

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After thousands of photos, through trial and error, reading, and seminars, I have learned the importance of using a longer focal length in getting good portrait photos.

Today I spent with my Muse (also known as Moose), and she was getting up close to my camera (a toy, in her book). I was using my standard 18-55mm lens, and I was shooting so close to her that I had to go down to the 18mm length to focus the lens. Even with a beautiful baby, you’ll see that a short focal length like that is not attractive for faces:

Muse shot with an 18mm focal length:

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The shorter the focal length, or wide angle, creates facial distortions that are not attractive. You’ll notice that the Muse’s nose seems wider, her eyes are distorted, and it does not bring out the best in a person’s face.

Same event, shot at 50mm:IMG_7653Small

Much more attractive (I love that little face so much).

When shooting faces, do not go below 50mm (even with just iPhone shots, keep the wide angles for landscapes, never people). Go higher — longer is better. Using a telephoto lens (200mm or even 300mm) for portraits creates the most pleasing facial shots. Plus the longer the lens, doubled with wide aperture shots (lower F-stops), creates a nice bokeh effect in the background. What that means is the background is softened and out of focus, so the main focus is on the person (for my fellow nearsighted friends, you know that effect from the period before you finally got your first pair of eyeglasses. I remember my first pair at age 19 and looking out at my mom’s backyard, I realized that the leaves could now be seen on the trees! They had been a fuzzy, Impressionistic mess for years before that — that’s what bokeh is).

So take your cameras and iPhones out and start shooting those faces in tight, longer, telephoto lens shots.

 

 

My passions are writing and photography. I am by training a photojournalist, but have been learning more formal photography techniques over the last seven years. I had a great session on portrait lighting the other day (with a great photographer named Rob Andrew). I also had the good fortune to photograph a beautiful model named Brooke. Lighting is, of course, the first key in any photograph, and Rob showed us how to manipulate studio lighting for great effects. I can’t wait to do more. For any budding photographer, I highly recommend hands-on training sessions. Books are great, but you need to get together with professionals and start snapping that camera.

Here are just a few outtakes from that session (you can see more of my shots of Brooke by going to my photo sharing site).

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