Monday, March 26, 2007
Ultimate Travel Photography
Camera techniques to help you shoot like a pro on your next photo adventure
6 Picturing People
This pair of images illustrates the difference between taking and making pictures [next page]. For the picture I "took" of the woman singing, I basically selected the subject, zoomed in and took the shot. I "made" the portrait of another young woman by first carefully selecting the background and then asking her, through my guide, to stand in position. As a travel photographer, I like to make pictures; a photojournalist usually pictures what he or she sees.
For people pictures, it's important to realize that the camera looks both ways. In picturing the subject, you're also picturing a part of yourself. In other words, the mood, feeling and energy you project will be reflected in your subject's face and eyes. Remember that, and you'll get a higher percentage of pictures that you like.
Technically, what helped me in both of these people situations was the camera's LCD monitor, which let me share the pictures with my subjects. But it also helped in another way, by helping me to determine the correct exposure. You see, I always check the histogram and the overexposure warning. If I think there will be an issue, I make my exposure adjustments accordingly.
Check your histogram (try to avoid spikes on the far left and right) and you'll save time in the digital darkroom trying to rescue a picture. And when it comes to taking people pictures, I always use the magnification feature on the camera's LCD monitor to zoom in to see (that's right) if the eyes are in focus!
7 You Snooze, You Lose
The images of the Maasai women singing [below] and the wildebeest [above] illustrate another favorite tip: You snooze, you lose. In other words, you must get up before sunrise to catch the dramatic light, color and shadows that are available just after the sun has risen. Of course, you'll get the same beautiful light before sunset, too.
Technically, when shooting toward the sun (as well as in bright sunlight) one of the things you want to watch out for is lens flare. You need a lens hood to keep direct light off the front element of your lens; that direct light can cause lens flare and make a picture look flat by reducing contrast.
It's also a good idea to remove all filters when shooting toward the sun, because light can bounce off the front element of a lens onto the filter and create a ghost image of the sun in your photo.
What's more, direct sunlight can bounce off the low-pass filter that's over the camera's image sensor and onto the rear lens element, causing "filter flare." At its worst, filter flare also can give you a ghost image of the sun. Even a little filter flare can make a picture look dull, again reducing contrast. So use your lens hood at all times, and if you can't avoid filter flare, think about how you can fix it in Photoshop (using the Clone Stamp tool to cover a hot spot or an adjustment, such as Levels, Curves or Brightness/Contrast, to bring back the contrast in an image).
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