Showing posts with label basic photography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label basic photography. Show all posts

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Reviewing Tips for Photographing Beautiful Sunsets

Sunset at August Busch Conservation Area

Most photographers agree that the minutes before and after sunset provide some of the best lighting for taking photographs. Although I have read and heard that theory many times, I often, either for convenience or desire, try to photograph at different times. When I compare my photos that I have taken over the years, I find that the best ones almost always were taken during the pre and post sunset time periods.
On this page, I will share with you some of the photos that I have taken and some of the techniques I use to capture these images.
all photos are by the authorT-mbgphoto

 Preparing for Your Photo Shoot

On a recent spring evening my friend, Teresa and I set out to capture some sunset photographs.  We wanted to catch the reflection of the sinking sun and the colors of the post sunset sky on water, so we went to a nearby area where there are several different lakes.  August A Busch Conservation Area is just a few miles away from us so we decided drive out and check out the lakes in the area. We made sure we arrived about an hour before sunset so we could check out which lake would be best to capture the types of photos we wanted to take.  After driving around several lakes we decided lake #6 would best fit our needs.  We could park on the east side of the lake and get some nice shots of the sun fading into the western sky and horizon.  The other feature we liked about this lakes were a couple of small boats tied up on the eastern shore that would make a nice foreground feature for our photos.

Tips for Preparation

  • Make sure you have batteries charged and room on your memory card
  • Search out the best place to get the photo you want
  • Set up your tripod and camera ahead of time ( a tripod will result in the clearest photos, especially after sunset)
  • Using an off camera remote is helpful (helps to alleviate camera shake)

Take a few shots before sunset

Taking a few shots early will help you to determine the best places to set up your camera.  The light just before sunset can be really nice for capturing flowers and other objects.  The soft light will bring out the details of an object. The first photo shows our set up photo.  The next two show the effects of the soft lighting during the time just before sunset.  Notice the beautiful details in the rose photo.



Camera, Lights, Action

We had our cameras set on tripods, the light came from the setting sun and now we were ready for action.  We took several shots as the sun was setting.  I always like to capture the various stages of a sunset.  For these shots I had moved my tripod away from the boats and to an area where I could capture the sunrise framed by the tree and grasses in the foreground.


The Sun has Set but we are not done Yet

The time right after sunset can produce some wonderful colors in the sky.  It is different each time so you just have to be patient, wait and be surprised.  On this day some beautiful pink colors came out of the clouds after sunset.  The first photo was taken a short time after sunset.  A lot of times new photographers are then ready to pack up and leave thinking they have gotten all the good photos.  But look at the second two photos and note how about 30 minutes after sunset the sky takes on a deep blue color.

 Patience Required

These next two photos show the difference in waiting those extra minutes just after sunset to get the perfect photo.  I was shooting at Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis for a photography workshop. The instructor had told us to set up and wait for the sky to turn a deep blue.  I waited, and waited and took the first photo.  It was ok but I didn't think anything that great.  Then I waited a bit more and the sky turned an even deeper blue and as a bonus a sliver of the moon was in my photo.  I think you will agree the deep blue really made the photo.  Patience paid off.

Products from my Photos

Here are some Zazzle Gifts I have made from photographs that I took in the "golden hour" after sunset.

Fountain at Sunset Poster
Fountain at Sunset Poster by mbgphoto
See other Sunset reflections Posters at zazzle
He is Risen! Easter Message Card
He is Risen! Easter Message Card by mbgphoto
Shop for Easter message Cards online at Zazzle.com



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Nature Photography Tips

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Classes Great Way to Enhance Photography Skills

I have found that the world of photography is a never ending learning experience. I am always so excited to learn new techniques and new ideas for photographs.
The opportunities to increase your skills with your camera are everywhere you look. You might find a good book written by a photographer you admire. Studying the works of others is a great way to learn. There are also some great photographer groups on both Facebook and Google+ where you can view the work of others and even post your own photos. Other photo enthusiasts always seem eager to give advice and tips.
I like to take a seminar or a photography class every year. I feel that I always learn something new and many times skills that I had learned and forget to use are reinforced in these classes. When I have taken classes in the past, I have written a  a blog post on them. For me the act of writing down what I have learned reinforces my learning. I hope it also helps others who read these tips.
On this page I will write on a nature photography class I am taking at our local community center. Our instructor Garry Rose has a great way of explaining concepts so that they make sense to me.
photos on this page are by the author mbgphoto

Lesson One

Introduction

In our first class the instructor gave us an introduction to nature photography. He described nature photography as anything taken outdoors that is not changed by man. Things like landscapes, wildlife, flowers, and animals would all be a part of nature photography.
We also talked about ethics for a photographer. Some key points included:
*Keep subjects safe
*Never dig up plants
*Never trim or snap plants
*Be careful not to expose nest or handle babies
A key point to remember is to leave the area looking exactly like it did when you arrived.

Know Your Subject

read or observe

It is always good to know your subject before you set out to photograph. You can do this by researching the subject or by observing what you see.
An example the instructor gave on knowing your subject is his own love of photographing dragonflies. Dragonflies are often times rather elusive but because our instructor has studied their habits he knows the best times and places to catch some great shots of dragonflies.

Know your Equipment

The best way to get to know your camera and equipment is to use them and practice with them. Our instructor encouraged the use of the histogram on our cameras to help us to determine if the light is right on our photo. This is particularly good to use on a bright sunny day when it is hard to see the screen on the camera. You can use the + or - button on your camera to lighten or darken the subject as needed.
Another camera feature that is good to know is the depth of field preview button. This will help you to determine if you have in focus what you want in focus. Check your camera manual if you don't know where your button is on the camera. The instructor gave us an assignment to help us learn about the depth of field with the various focal lengths on our camera. We were to photograph a 12 inch ruler using both the longest and the shortest focal lengths on each of our lenses. We were to use aperature priority set at F8 and make sure the ruler was in focus on each shot. I really enjoyed seeing how this changed the background in each of my photos. With my shortest focal length 18mm the house in the background is in focus as you see in this photo. Look at the photo below to see how that changes with the longer focal length.
With this lesson in mind I used my 300mm focal length to photograph a tulip in my neighbors yard. I was able to get the tulip in focus and the background blurred.

Same shot using a 300mm lens

Good Technique

The instructor gave us a lot of tips on good techniques to use during nature photography. Some of them were reinforcing techniques I already use and others were ideas that I need to incorporate into my photography.
These are some of the key points I took away from the lecture.
  • Always use a Tripod
  • Slow down and take your time. This is a great tip and one that I need to be work on.
  • Shoot both vertical and horizontal views.
  • Look for different vantage points. Everybody looks at a scene and takes it straight on. Find a way to make it different. Perhaps you might just photograph a section close up or photograph it with something interesting in the foreground.
  • Look for ways to frame the subject. This is one of my favorites. I love to find ways to frame my subjects as you can see in the lighthouse photo that I framed by colored leaves.
Here is a tripod that is the same brand and price range as the one that I use.  While it is not the most expensive, it is not the cheapest either and I find that it works well for my needs.
Click for more details on Amazon




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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Review of Canon PowerShot SX 130 IS~Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera!

Canon PowerShot photo of Venice
Basilica in Venice, Italy

My Review of the Canon PowerShot SX 130 IS Point and Shoot Camera

I used to hate taking photos because it was so hard and most of the time my pictures didn't come out that well. In fact out of a roll of film I would keep only one or two. I solved the problem years ago by buying postcards everywhere I traveled. After all, a photographer already got the perfect shot and it was cheaper than developing all that film and then throwing away most of the photos anyway.  So I would just buy the coolest postcards everywhere I went and always have great photos. But none of the photos had me or my family in them and that's a problem when you are doing scrapbooks.

Canon PowerShot photo of building in Rome, Italy
Old building by the Colosseum, Rome, Italy

So a few years ago when digital cameras came out, I thought maybe I could try again, because now when the photos are bad I can just delete them! No more wasted film and money. So I took the plunge. What I did was ask some of my photographer friends for suggestions and based on those, and my preference for a point and shoot camera,  I bought a Canon PowerShot SX 130 IS and I couldn't be happier!


Canon PowerShot photo of Hong Kong
Hong Kong, from Victoria Peak on a Misty morning

Now if you are a technical person who wants all the specs and that kind of stuff, you might not want to read my review of this awesome camera because what I love about it is that even someone like me who hates all that stuff and doesn't even know where to begin to talk about that can use it and take great photos! But I will say a few things about it anyway, for the non techie crowd.

Features of the Canon PowerShot SX 130 IS


 It has an auto setting and I just leave it on there and voila, good shots most of the time. It has a built in zoom, so I just adjust the zoom and it refocuses itself instantly! How cool is that? Now for those of you who understand the F stop settings and the like, it has those available too, but I never use them; I keep it on auto all the time. It has a built in flash and it tells you if you need to activate it! That just means raise the flash. (no light bulbs to buy either) And the thing I really like is that even when it says I need the flash, if I'm in a church or museum where they prohibit flash, I still am able to get a great shot most of the time. More coolness! It also has a huge viewfinder, basically the whole back of the camera is the viewfinder! The photo below was taken in a church where no flash is allowed. Can you believe that?


Canon PowerShot photo of Carcassonne
Rondele, Cathedral in Carcassonne, France

My husband has a Nikon top of the line digital camera and he even thinks some of my shots are better than the ones his camera takes. (He likes to play with the settings though, so that's probably the reason. I tell him to just put it on auto, but no, he has to be all fancy.) I have an iPhone and it has a camera, but the photos from this camera are way better so I will always carry it. ( It's not very heavy.) It was not an expensive camera either considering all its features and the quality of its photos; I got it on sale for less than $200!



Canon PowerShot photo of Sydney Harbor
Sydney Harbor Opera House, Australia


Another thing I like is that it takes regular AA batteries, not those lithium expensive ones that are hard to find. Just pop into any grocery or drug store and you are set to go. Really, it's been so fun to finally take photos that I'm happy to keep and can actually have some fun family shots too. So if you want a camera that takes great shots without having to know all the technical details of cameras, I highly recommend the Canon PowerShot SX 130 IS!

All the photos on this page are from my little digital camera so you can see the variety possible. 

Here are more of the photos I took on my trip around the world, 2014-2015 which I'm still enjoying! You can see more photos and stories at Peace, Love, Travel Light.


Canon Powershot photo of Albi France
Mary and Jesus, St. Cecile Cathedral, Albi, France


Canon Powershot photo of Albi street in France
Lights in Albi, France, Christmas 2014

Canon Powershot photo of Australia
Blue Mountains, Australia


All Photos © Heather Burns, 2014. Please do not copy.









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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Basic Techniques for Digital Photography



Last week I shared my notes for the first session of our Nature Photography class.  Here are some additional points from that first class Nature Photography Class.  The photo of the tulip is one that I took using some tips I learned in that first class.

In our second class our instructor went over some basic techniques for photography.  The list below includes some of the points he made in class that were of particular interest to me.  I hope  you find some that will work for you too.

  • Vantage Point--  Look for a different vantage point for your photos.  Everyone sees an object straight on when they see it, help your audience to see it differently.  Take your time, walk around an object to find just the right place to take the photo and then set up your tripod.
  • Take Both Vertical and Horizontal Views--Even if you think one way would be best try taking it both ways.  You never know when the other way might be what you need for a certain project.
  • Watch Your Background-  How many times are we so focused on the person or object that we are photographing that we don't notice the background till we see the finished photo.  Before you hit the shutter, make it a habit to run your eyes through the outside perimeter of the picture.
  • Waterfalls- To get that beautiful blurr of water take the photo at a speed of 1/15 sec or slower using your lowest ISO.
  • Animals- To get the best reaction from an animal shoot 2-3 shots in close succession.  The first one will get the animals attention and the second will usually have the best reaction.


Each week our instructor gives us an assignment.  This week's assignment is to take an artistic photo of a flower.  Next Thursday I will share my photo with you along with the tips that we get in our third class.  The subject next week will be on Macro Photography. Stay tuned!



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