Long exposure photography involves using slow shutter speeds to capture moving elements within an image. It helps to have a stationary object within the frame to complement this effect. To achieve this a tripod is necessary. If using a DSLR consider using the mirror lock up function and a wireless or wired shutter release cable to eliminate any camera shake. The image to the right was shot at night using a 10 stop neutral density filter since the moon was fairly bright behind the thin cloud layer in the sky. The camera was set to ISO of 200, manual focus, and camera manual mode used. I set the aperture to f16 for a large depth of field and also to cut down the amount of light entering the camera for a longer exposure. I took a few test shots using different shutter speeds until I was happy with the final exposure. The final image was obtained using a 30 second exposure. This shutter speed was long enough to capture movement in the clouds and water for a soft, surreal effect I was trying to achieve. In post processing, it was converted to black and white and slight adjustments to contrast was made. Noise can be an issue when shooting long exposures and some noise reduction was implemented in post processing as well.
Keeping the eyes sharp is essential when shooting portraiture. Next time you look at a photograph of someone pay attention to what part of the photo your eyes are first drawn to. Chances are it’s their eyes. It’s normal for us to make eye contact with people in our every day life. This process is also subconsciously replicated when we look at images of people.
To get the eyes in sharp focus make sure that both eyes are on the same plane. This means the lens of the camera should be center and level with the subjects eyes. When shooting wide open between f 1.4- 2.8 for a shallow depth of field (ie: blurred background), focus on the eye closest to you if the eyes are off plane. I’ll often try to shoot as wide as possible since I favor this look. My 35mm prime lens opens to f 1.8 and I find while blurring the background I have enough depth of field to keep both eyes in sharp focus even if the camera is slightly off plane. Anything less than f1.8 can be difficult to work with. The goal here is to be able to see detail in the subjects iris.
If using a telephoto lens (ie: 70-200mm) remember to keep you shutter speeds at least equal to the focal length being used. So if your shooting at 200mm’s you want to keep your shutter speed at least 1/200 sec. Anything less will pick up camera shake in the image and loose detail. To play it safe, I will shoot at least 1/250 sec preferably higher if I have enough light.
Shadows anywhere on the face can be a distraction in the final print. Good lighting is essential. Consider using a reflector or strobe to overpower shadows. If shooting outdoors on a sunny day such as the example image above a reflector is often my first choice. Use of a tripod will help with sharpness but limit your mobility.
Keep the eyes sharp and shadows out of your portraits. Look for good light and if you cant find it make your own. A little practice and you’ll be on your way to shooting great portrait photographs.
Inspiration is the key that unlocks the photographers creativity. A blank canvas can often be difficult to fill without inspirational ideas. Photographers are often faced with this obstacle and at times, need a form of inspiration to fuel their creativity.
A photographers inspiration can come from a variety of sources. Images found in books, periodicals, websites and blogs can all be sources of inspiration for your next photograph. Adding a “twist” on works from other photographers can spark your own creative process.
Often the strongest inspiration can be found from the things we love or hate. Inspiration can come from a mood or feeling weather good or bad. I think these are often the best sources of inspiration. Quite often, if the subject matter is strong to the photographer, there’s a good chance it will also be strong to the viewer. An image that tells a story or elicits an emotion are the building blocks for a creative and successful image. These building blocks form the foundation of the artists creative process.
The image to the right was taken on a rainy day. The kids wanted to play ball outside with the puppy and were waiting for the passing rain shower to stop. I think the ball in the image combined with the title (“Waiting for the Sun”) , tell a story quite well. My inspiration for this photograph was the “moment” itself. It was seeing the image on paper in black and white the moment it happened. I quickly grabbed my camera off the table and fired off a few frames. Although there are a few technical aspects that can be critiqued as always… the overall idea is clear and concise.
When shooting a scene with moving subjects consider shooting multiple frames or “bursts”. Two or three should do. Shooting people in motion,children playing or portraits, multiple images allow you the flexibility of capturing the main subject in a more pleasing pose or position. This example of a fisherman walking along the rocks would not have worked so well if the subject was photographed in another stance. It may have made the subject and overall scene look too static. This also works well for close ups of people. For example, taking bursts of multiple images can avoid closed eyes when the subject blinks.
Reflections can transform an ordinary image into something a little more artistic. Ant reflective surfaces like water ,glass and mirrors can be used. The initial observation by the viewer can be confusing at first look. This confusion draws the viewer to look at an image longer to decipher the image. This process of captivating the viewers attention and drawing them into your photo can make for a successful photograph.