Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Year Ago on Boost Your Photography

The countdown is on until Cyber Monday! Email subscribers to Boost Your Photography should check their inboxes early for a special Cyber Monday deal ... !

(Not an email subscriber yet? There's still time to get on the list - sign up at the bottom of this post or using the subscribe via email box in the margin.)

Next month we will be paying attention to our shooting modes for the Boost Your Photography 52 Weeks Challenge. Join us to think about which mode you choose to shoot in and why.

  • Thankful for Food Photography. Thanksgiving got me thinking about food photography. This collection of quick tips will help you with the settings, strategies, and stylings to make a big difference in your food photography.
  • Yes, You Need a 50mm Lens. A 50mm lens is a major upgrade from your kit lenses, and this post lays out a series of arguments (and photographs) to show you what you might be missing. Plus, at around $100 USD, a 50mm lens is also a steal! 
  • Fall Photography Round Up. Catch up on three months worth of great posts in one place. The fall roundup has got you covered!

Don't Miss a Single Post from Boost Your Photography

Follow along on Facebook

Follow along on Google+

Follow along on Twitter

Follow along on Pinterest

Follow along on Bloglovin'

Or, better yet, receive updates daily or weekly via email. Sign up below!

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

How would you like to receive updates? *

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fall Photography Round Up

Welcome to the Fall Photography Round Up! This is a chance to look back at the posts from the last three months and catch up on any posts you might have missed.  You can also check out the previous round ups for Spring 2013, Summer 2013Fall 2013, Winter 2013-2014, Spring 2014, and Summer 2014.

For Beginners

This is a collection of posts geared towards beginners or those who want to learn to do more with their camera. Many of the 'Tips and Tricks' and 'Inspired Ideas' posts will also be applicable. You can find other posts geared toward Beginners here or in the tab up top.

Depth of Field:
it's more than just aperture

Getting Started with
Macro Photography

Diptych: Double
the Power of Your Photograph

Tips and Tricks

Advice for getting the most out of your camera and your photography. You can find more Tips and Tricks posts here or in the tab up top.

How to Shoot Your Children
(with a Camera)

Find Time for
Photo Books

The Line: elements of
visual design, part 1

Must Have Apps to Assist Your Photography

Blue Hour

An Introduction to
Night Photography

Shape: elements of
visual design, part 2

Form / Volume: elements
of visual design, part 3

Texture: elements of
visual design, part 4

Inspired Ideas

This is a collection of posts containing ideas, both those that you can implement immediately and those that require a little more time, effort, and potential planning. You can find more Inspired Ideas here or in the tab up top.

Portrait Photography

How to Photograph

How to Photograph
Traffic Trails

How to Photograph
Ghosts in 1 Exposure

Spooky Levitation How To with Photoshop

the Seasons

Guest Posts

In addition to Boost Your Photography, I am also a regular contributor to Digital Photography School and Craftsy. These are my posts that were published over on their site in the last few months.

Stay Connected

Be sure you don't miss a single post from Boost Your Photography. You can sign up to receive new posts by email, using the 'Follow by Email' subscription box in the right-hand column. (Email addresses will never be sold or distributed.)

Follow along on Facebook

Follow along on Google+

Follow along on Twitter

Follow along on Pinterest

Follow along on Bloglovin'

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Texture: elements of visual design, part 4

This month's Boost Your Photography: 52 Weeks Challenge is focusing in on the basic elements of composition: line, shape, form or volume, texture, and color. This week your challenge is to pay attention to texture. See how thinking about texture can help you grow in your photography. (Click here to read part 1, The Linepart 2, Shape, and part 3, Form or Volume.)


My favorite definition of texture comes from Michael Freeman's The Complete Guide to Black and White Digital Photography, "Texture is structure and form on a small scale, meaning small relative to the view. And, because a texture is, by definition, something that is reasonably consistent over a substantial area of a surface, it is usually a repetitive structure" (page 54).

Just like form and volume, texture is often emphasized by strong, directional light. This type of light creates harsh shadows, bringing emphasis and attention to the variations in the texture of your subject. The photograph above, of the peeling paint, was shot under diffused, cloudy light, so there is no apparent direction in the light and no harsh shadows.

By contrast, the photograph above was shot under strong, direct sunlight, and you can see the deeper shadows in the ridges. Had the sun been coming from a lower side angle, rather than still fairly high overhead, the effect would have been even stronger.

Backlighting is another potential way to emphasize the texture of an object. With backlight, the light source is placed directly behind your subject, relative to the camera. This style of backlighting produces what is called "rim light" or light that is shining around and through the edges of your subject. This style of lighting works best to highlight the texture of fuzzy subjects and edges, like the chenille plant above.

Texture is also an interesting element to pursue at a macro or close-up level. The closer in you get to your subject, the easier it is to see and capture interesting variations in texture. With the leaf, above, a close-up shot reveals the various veins and ridges of the internal structure of the leaf. With the penny below, you can really see the different layers that make up the embossed design.

How Will You Use Texture?

Keep your eye out for interesting textures this week. Seek out different lighting situations and see how the texture appears to change. Share a link or a photograph in the comments below, or consider joining the BYP 52 Weeks Google+ Community to share your weekly photograph and see what others are capturing.

Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR is available from Amazon. Get the most out of your camera with practical advice about the technical and creative aspects of DSLR photography that will have you taking beautiful pictures right away.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How to Shoot Your Children (with a Camera)

A Guest Post by Elizabeth Van Orden

I have absolutely no evidence to support this, but I would be willing to bet that at least half of DSLR purchases are made with the intention of taking better photographs of children. If anyone does have any figures on this, please put them in the comments, so I know what I am talking about. The omniscient Google was quiet on this topic. Among those folks who shelled out good money to take better pictures without hiring a professional, most keep their lovely cameras in Auto mode and the resulting pictures are only scarcely better than a decent point and shoot. I say all of this lovingly because this is precisely how I started my journey – yep, I was pretty darned proud of this photo at the time:

Here are my top recommendations for taking better pictures of your own children:

1. Learn your camera and how to shoot in manual

That’s the top recommendation I can give any budding photographer. Do not buy any new toys until you have reached the full potential of your camera body and the lens or lenses that came with it. It probably came with some free basic editing software, too. Do not buy any editing programs until what comes straight out of your camera is pretty good. Learn the exposure triangle, i.e. how to balance aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, and then go to step 2 and 3, which are equally important in my mind. Katie’s book is a great resource. Read it!

2. Don’t amputate your children

There are plenty of cropping guides online, but don’t chop off your kids’ arms and legs when taking their photographs. You can always do a closer crop later, but once you’ve chopped off little Jimmy’s foot in the camera, it won’t grow back in Photoshop.

3. Let there be light

There are two times of day that will give you the best outdoor light: the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. Photographers generally refer to this time as “golden hour.” Pictures taken in the mid-day sun will usually have harsh shadowing or dappling (little bits of light) even under the shadiest tree. If you do shoot in the middle of the day, wait for a passing cloud or try to find some “open shade.” Open shade is a large shady area, for example under a tree, with limited light peeking through. Those light peeks, if they hit your child’s face, are distracting. I also recommend shooting in cloudy mode for white balance if you haven’t set a custom white balance. It’ll get you close enough. Another suggestion? Shoot on a cloudy day, you get beautiful flat light!

4. Can I get a little help, here?

I have a three year old. He wants to do everything himself and the last thing he wants to do is listen to my instructions for posing. He’ll sit next to me while I’m editing and say, “I don’t look very happy in that photo, do I?” My husband comes along, especially when I’m shooting with long lenses, to help keep my son content. The best place for your helper to stand and make faces at the baby/child? Directly behind you. If they’re off to the side, that’s where the kid is going to look.

5. Stoop to their level

Photographing kids is a little like gymnastics, one minute I’m on my belly on the ground, the next I’m running up a hill after them. Get down to their level – squat, on your stomach, sitting, whatever it takes so you’re at about their head level.

6. I feel the need for speed

As a rule of thumb, you want your shutter speed to be approximately twice the length of your lens. If you’re shooting a 50mm lens, you want it at least 1/100. Completely forget that rule when it comes to kids on the move. You need a shutter speed of at least 1/250. Heck, when I take leaf-toss photos with a 35mm lens, I bump that puppy up to 1/500 to 1/600.

7. Don’t bring your camera everywhere and don’t be a perfectionist

At the end of the day, I’m a mom and not a photojournalist assigned to document my child’s life. Do I miss out on some awesome photo opportunities? Every single day. My camera almost always stays at home for trips to the zoo, the park, birthday parties, etc. I love to photograph my son, but I love being a mom to my son even more. My cell phone is almost always nearby if I need a snapshot.
What I have said above are just some recommendations for taking better pictures of your children. Love is more important than any photo so don’t worry if your photography isn’t perfect. Life, love, and kids are messy; sometimes photos are, too. Just enjoy the ride and click away.

Elizabeth Van Orden is the owner and principle photographer at Elizabeth Van Orden Photography, LLC in the Chicago suburbs. To say she is self-taught would be an insult to the wonderful support network of mentors and friends who have helped her along her journey including her former roommate, Katie McEnaney. She is also a mom to three-year-old “K” who makes her keep her shutter speed at 1/500 most of the time.