From adding artistry to your action shots to zinging zip into your zebra portraits, this year’s annual how-to special is a veritable encyclopedia of photographic fun. Read on for an alphabet of inspiration.
L is for Live Music
Photo by: Dan Bracaglia [TheLondonBroil.com]
Concert venues are notoriously dark, so fast prime lenses and flashes (if allowed) are the way to go. Crank up the ISO: Without a flash, your shutter speed will be slow, but 1/60 sec is the low limit. Noise is better than blur. Set your aperture wide open: For tight shots of individual band members, set aperture priority mode and lock an exposure on a spotmeter reading of the faces. For wide shots, use evaluative metering to get the proper exposure, and shoot in manual to keep that setting locked. Get facial expressions: Staying on the sides of the stage is a great way to do this, but remember to move around throughout the show to get photos of the crowd.
M is for Monochrome HDR
One of best ways to learn the basics of high-dynamic-range imaging is to start with monochrome—it is more forgiving than color and free of the artificial color shifts that often mar newbie HDRs. Contributor Jim Shoemaker (see this month’s Traveling Photographer, page 42) advises the following steps. Tone-map the image: In Photomatix Pro, use very low settings to avoid an “overbaked” look. The result will be pretty flat, but with full detail. Bring out midtone contrast: In Adobe Photoshop, use the Tonal Contrast adjustment in Nik’s Color Efex Pro plug-in. Fine-tune: Use Nik Silver Efex Pro to adjust contrast, shadows, highlights, brightness, and toning.
N is for Newborn
Photo by: Chloe Ramirez
Too young to smile or hold up their heads, newborns are a challenge to photograph. Here are some strategies. Make babies comfortable: Be sure they are fed, but wait about half an hour for postprandial gassiness to subside. Most newborns (until about 14 days old) will sleep through anything, so you’ll have much more freedom to position one than you will an older baby. Get blankets and fabrics with great textures, and place the baby in and on whatever you can find—baskets, mixing bowls, cushions. Turn up the heat (as warm as 85 degrees): Make sure the baby is toasty so you can get the all-important bare shots. Bonus tip: If baby gets the hiccups, grab a camera. Shoot in burst mode—if you catch the right moment, a hiccup can look like a smile.
O is for Organize
To figure out which memory cards are empty and which are full, create a system. Store cards right-side up and facing out if they are empty. Flip them upside down if they are partly full, and upside down and backwards when they’re spent.
P is for Pop-up Flash
This can be harsh, so diffuse the output: Tape one or more sheets of single-ply tissue over the flash head, or use an accessory modifier such as the Lightscoop, a mirror that snaps in front of the pop-up to bounce its blast to a ceiling or wall.
Q is for Quiet
When a situation demands a silent camera, pros use pricey soundproof camera housings called blimps. For a gadget-free solution, use quiet mode (for instance, Canon’s EOS 5D Mark III has one). If your lens is noisy when focusing, go manual. And in a pinch, you can always wrap your camera in fabric.