Tuesday, October 31, 2006

No-Flash Photography Using Available Light or Low Light Can Exact Rewarding Images Even Photo Art

Low-Light, Slow Shutter Speed, No Flash Photography!

This lighting challenge no longer needs to put fear into a photographer's heart. It's possible to get perfect photos with a digital SLR and a few simple techniques.

Sometimes a flash brings you sunlight and then there are times when using a flash just takes away the mood of the moment. At times light voids the image of emotion. Like an artist poised in front of a blank canvass, the photographer chooses light, color, texture and shape to portray theirPhoto Art to share with the world.

I love to capture candid, journalistic style images of people during highly emotive events such as weddings and milestone birthdays. Take my lead and sit or crouch in a corner, almost invisible to the subjects and capture a loving look, a comforting touch or a smile that lights up the room. To capture these candid images and maintain your anonymity, you have to be non-intrusive. Using a camera flash defeats that purpose. In fact, a flash can be quite annoying to the subjects as well as any others present.

Using a flash captures the moment and then stops the subject cold (to collect themselves) before going on. The flash is not conducive to spontaneity and a natural flow of action. Capturing the energy of a live band performance is always an exciting project. There is the uncertainty of lighting, obstruction by instruments, equipment and people, and not knowing how each song will bring out the emotions of the artists. Imagine the bad reception you would get if you, as the band photographer, started poppin' flashes during the performance! Oooouch! Now that would be a mood wrecker, wouldn't it?

In 'use the available light' situations you should be brave! Be bold! Shoot no-flash with confidence. Shoot without a tripod or unipod to stabilize the camera. Wow! Is this really possible? Yes my friend it is!

    It is a real treat to shoot no-flash images with a digital SLR. I've taken thousands of images using the available light with my Canon D60 (an oldie but goodie in the digital camera world) with a number of different lenses :

  1. Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6

  2. Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 (a heavy lens but fast for low light and action shots)

  3. Sigma 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 (my all around on-camera lens).

I have achieved great results with all these lenses in low-light, no-flash situations. You can achieve this with film, but with digital you get to instantly view the shot and can make adjustments to create some funky photo art. Plus with a digital SLR you can use the rapid fire feature and guarantee that one of the images will be perfect. And the no developing, no negatives means no cost for snapping a lot of digital images. Play the odds!

    A few tips that will make the odds work in your favor:

  1. set your ISO speed to 400 or Higher - I shoot at ISO 400

  2. set Drive Mode to continuous shooting – you'll be using rapid fire often

  3. use Tv (shutter priority) or M (Manual Exposure) - experiment using both shutter modes

  4. use both Auto Focus and Manual Focus on your lens – remember Auto Focus sometimes is too slow to work properly in low-light environments

  5. you will be free-shooting at aperture speeds of 1/20 to 1/8 or lower. Use one of these camera stabilizing techniques: 1) elbows/arms on stable surface even if it is your knee or thigh; 2) arms tight to body and, my favorite; 3) don't breathe when snapping images

Now the fun begins. You will be constantly adjusting aperture speeds and focus every time you point your lens or your subject moves or the light changes. But don't stop shooting!

I have found that if I bring the aperture speed down to where the camera indicates you don't need a flash (1/15), I will shoot multiple photos at that speed and then also shoot some at 1/20 and 1/10. Remember to meter on the subject not the light. You will be surprised at the different colors and emotions you capture by manually bracketing the shots this way. Again, experiment. Have fun! Keep moving around. Get a lot of close-up shots. Use the light source that comes from where ever or what ever (e.g. stage lights, candlelight, window light, flash light, fire light). Take lots of pictures. Move around your subject(s). Take more pictures. This is just too much fun!

At these slow aperture speeds you will get some blur. This effectively captures motion and adds an very artistic touch to your photos.

Couple your ability to frame a shot with the post production capabilities of Picasa by Google, and you will create some incredible Foto Art.

Low light? – No problem!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Artificial Lighting Can Duplicate Most Natural Light Situations - For Close-up Photographs Replicate Sunshine With Your Off Camera Flash – Sometimes N

Ever wonder how the photography pros seem to get those perfect close-ups of flowers, a face or an otherwise shaded object?

The photographers world is one of perfecting an art form. It's about capturing the subject in the proper light. It is not about delivering a real-life image. It's about capturing impactful color, texture and shape when engaging the camera shutter. The photographers craft is image media art.

On your next field trip to the park or on a hike into the interior of a forest, take your flash unit and an off camera shoe cord. The shoe cord is usually a curly flash extension cord that connects your camera flash shoe to your flash unit and allows you to hold the flash unit up to 3 feet away from your camera. Hold the flash unit to the right or to the left of your subject. Hold it high and over the top of your subject or, even have the light source come from below or behind your subject. Your flash can be positioned anywhere in a virtual 3 foot sphere around your camera. This provides you countless number of ways to simulate light and shadow for your close-up, still and portrait photography.

Bring along a friend. Have them hold a flash reflector, a white cloth or a reflective surface (like the one used in car windshields to reduce direct sunlight and heat buildup). Use this sun reflective surface with existing sunlight or your off camera flash. Now you have multiplied your possibilities for soft or diffused lighting for your images.

Create your own sun for those close-ups, stills and portraits. Just bring your:
1) Flash unit

2) Off Camera Shoe Cord

3) Reflective Surface for diffused lighting

4) A Friend

You no longer need to wait for that 'right light' to capture an awesome photographic image. Experiment with artificial light and you will be delighted with the results. Here Comes Your Sun.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Amateur Photographers: You Can Make this World a Happier Place by Knowing Where to Share Images and Scanned Photos

Autumn is a perfect time for all photographers, professional and hobbyist, to travel the countrysides to capture the spectrum of fall colors that abound for a brief time each year. Point your lens anywhere during this cavalcade of color and, like a finger print, you will get at least one shot that is uniquely yours!

It is said that the best picture images are those that amateur photographers have not shared with others. This is the case with my own passion of Photographic Art. I was encouraged for years by family and friends to Sell My Stuff. I ask you to consider sharing with the world the beauty you have captured on film or through your digital photos! The world has enough dark and dread already. You can help tip the balance in favor of beauty and brightness! Share your delightful images with the world in all its autumn splendor.

How? You ask?

Would you like to share your camera images with a minimum of text? Well, there is Flickr, an easy place to load up your choice images for the world to view and on which to comment. Or Photosite is another choice photo sharing site. Search on Photo Sharing and you will see numerous FREE image and video hosting websites. You will find other photographers are very liberal in their praise of a 'great shot'. It can be a very encouraging and supportive community. If you can take constructive criticism then, you, too, will thrive in this learning environment.

Currently (September 2006) I am in a beta test environment of Google's latest effort - Picasa Web Albums. I am an avid user of Picasa. Yes, as a professional photographer, most of my wedding and landscape images have been cataloged and adjusted using the power of Picasa. Adobe Photoshop has been relegated to only specific special effects.

If you wish to add a story or more detail behind the images, then I encourage you to use one of the many BLOGS (weB LOGS) that exist. But choose one or two of them that allow images to be uploaded to accompany your text. The newest BLOG site by Google, blogger, is such a site that allows you creative license. In fact, you can post multi images per BLOG article. With some of the other BLOG sites you can overcome the shortcoming of not being able to integrate images; simply by referencing your related images posted in Flickr or Google Picasa Web Albums.

Most BLOGS have an 'Insert HyperLink button', but a simple piece of html code inserted right in your article is all that is required:
1) Open a new browser window and go to the specific site and location of the group of pictures you which to 'hyper link' from your BLOG article
2) Copy the URL found in the menu line at the top of the browser window
3) Return to your article, locate your cursor at the place you wish to reference your image web location
4) Type and paste the following:

A) type: <
B) immediately type: a href="
C) paste the url you just copied from your photo image website
D) type: ">Look at my images here (or some description)<
E) immediately type: /a>

People reading your BLOG will now be able to hyperlink to your expanded collection of photo images.

Google's Blogger gives you the ability to integrate multiple images with your posted BLOG and then you can easily hyperlink your Posted Article Title to even more images on Flickr or (soon) Google Picasa Web Albums. Isn't the internet grand!

You have questions on exactly how to do this? Take a look at a few of my BLOG articles. Still have questions? E-mail me through one of the websites below.

Get out there and do your part to make this world a brighter and happier place to live!