July 18, 2010
With other mediums, it takes time to make a point and illustrate the overall picture; however, one of the advantages of a photo is its ability to convey a point at first glance, the first moment of impact. Although a single photo can do the trick, you can also use multiple photos to emphasize a point or extreme.
For instance, the New York Times recently integrated panoramas into their reportage on the inaugural ceremony and the parade. Their 360 coverage allowed them to be more creative with what they covered and also changed up their visual appeal, keeping their readers interested. Fortunately, this idea isn’t just constricted to the professionals but also amateur student journalists. For your school news coverage, you can use panoramas to illustrate the school spirit of a state championship or the chaos of a performance’s backstage preparation. Creating your own panoramas doesn’t have to be costly. Check out Hugin & Microsoft’s Image Composite Editor (both for free). For those of you who are photoshop gurus, the software already has a photomerge tool.
Although they are known to be utilized in music videos such as “Her Morning Elegance”, stop motion videos have also become a growing medium for people to record observations of large impact changes overtime. Use these to cover seats filling up at a musical performance or students going to and from classrooms.
Your news doesn’t have to be reported in the mundane black and white. Have fun and be creative with the photos and other resources you have.
July 15, 2010
Utilize the 7 elements elements of composition to be creative and develop your own photographic style:
- Rule of Thirds: Your subject should rarely be placed dead in the middle of your image. If otherwise, the space around the subject becomes rarely utilized and the image is poorly proportioned and lacks a sense of direction to lead the eye. Thus, position your subject along the lines or on the 4 hotspots.
- Framing: Surround the center of interest with objects from the foreground and background.
- Leading Lines: When used correctly, visible and invisible lines and curves help to guide your audience’s eyes toward the point of interest.
- Fill the Frame: Too much negative space may take away from the primary focus your intending to create.
- Repetition & Contrast: Look for patterns and differences within the scene you’re photographing to illustrate relationships and connections between people, places and things.
- Selective Focus or Shallow Depth of Field: Shallow depth of field brings more focus to the point of interest by blurring the distractions in the background while focusing the foreground/the subject. For portraits, this technique is especially useful for catching the shine in a person’s eyes.
- Perspective: Taking multiple pictures at one angle can not only lack creativity but also get pretty monotonous. Thus, try varying the angles shoot your camera from to incorporate different perspectives. Shoot at the hip or for the sky. Instead of the foreground, use selective focus on the background. Rather than focusing on getting the main action, get the reactions or the minor characters..
Note that these are only guidelines that help create some variation and style. Not all good pictures conform to these rules so you can go beyond the box once in a while.
July 12, 2010
Out with the new, in with the old: the concept of the pinhole camera spans back to the birth of photography, when the camera obscura was created. Now, these simple cameras are popular in experimental photography and many people around the world are making their own out of ordinary if not peculiar household objects. Check out the: floppy disc camera, iPhone box camera, & Guillotine pinhole camera.
July 12, 2010
Whether it be an actor profile or feature story, asking questions is the most important step in covering a story. You want to add as much color to your story as you can. Although it is impossible to ask a stupid question, there is smart approach you should take in order to get the most information out of your subject.
- Seek the open ended question. It may be harder than you think. Even if you attempt to lead your subject into a response with questions such as “Did you like….?” and “Have you been…”, most likely you will walk away with the dead enders: ‘yes’, ‘no’, & ‘sort of’, phrases that don’t create depth or color. Instead, go for the how’s and why’s or ask to be more specific. “What was your favorite experience as the prima ballerina and why?”. “How did practice effect your school life?”
- Do your research. During class or a meeting, are you likely to put in an intelligent two cents if you know your material before hand? The same goes for interviewing. When you dig into information before hand, you are more likely to ask someone about something that you haven’t already found out by reading a book or going to a website.
- Gain a contact. Some interviewees can be shy or stubborn and won’t give the information up no matter how hard you try. Thus, instead of giving up, ask them for information about a possible contact, someone close to them that could be valuable to you. “Oh, your sister was in the play too? Who was she? Could I possibly talk to her too?”
For practice, visit Poynter‘s course on interviewing which includes an online simulation that allows you to ask questions and find out which ones help progress the conversation.
July 10, 2010
Not everything is simply black and white. Forgetting to check and adjust white balance can be one of the biggest mistakes a photographer can make. According to the light present at the time of shooting, there can be a slight tint or color cast to your picture: flourescent lights can produce red tinted pictures, and light can bounce off shirts to tint a face to the according color (see the picture below). Obviously, we want the color that is most true to life, the color of what you see before you as it is. Although unwanted tints can be simply fixed in the post process, it is best to get them out of the way by setting your white balance correctly.
Looking at the basic white balance presets we can see that each preset corresponds to a different temperature:
The higher the temperature in Kelvins, the bluer your image will be and the lower the temperature, the redder it will turn out;however, even with these preset settings, a perfect white balance cannot be achieved. Many houses and buildings utilize different types of bulbs in a single room. Even outdoors, the sun has many phases: sunrise, midday, afternoon, that daytime auto white balance doesn’t take into consideration. Thus, it is best to adjustyour white balance manually.
For this process known as ‘custom white balance’ you will need neutral point of reference (most preferably one that is gray or white in color). Some photographers carry around portable references such as a gray screen or piece of paper; however, anything you find in nature that is close enough, you can use. Next, take a picture with the focal point at the your reference point. Afterwards, now that your camera knows what white really is, your next image should translate to a perfect white balance.
In other cases, you may want to use white balance artisticly. Depending on the image you want to create, you may want to keep these tint contingencies to create a tone and develop a feeling.
July 9, 2010
In order to achieve SDF, take these 3 steps:
- Set your camera to a low aperature/f-stop. An f-stop of 5.6 and below will be best; however the lower you go the more the foreground there will be that is out of focus.
- Change your ISO and shutter speed accordingly. Depending on the amount of available light you are shooting with, you will want to adjust your other exposure settings. If you have your f-stop open wide on a very sunny day, there is a high risk of overexposing your image so you’ll want to either lower your ISO and/or lower your shutter speed. For a dim room, you’ll want to do the opposite to prevent underexposure.
- Zoom in or get closer to your subject. Your camera may mistaken your subject as the background if you are not close enough so don’t be afraid to approach it closer.
July 9, 2010
Think of shutter speed like baking a cake. The longer the time a cake is in the oven, the longer it is exposed to the heat. Similarly, the longer the shutter is released, the longer the picture is exposed to the light; however, be careful. Like how a cake can get undercooked or baked, a picture can be underexposed and overexposed so mind your time and cook that picture right!
The International Organization of Standards (ISO) is a numerical value that indicates the image sensor’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO the more sensitive the image sensor is to light. Thus, while high ISO is used in no flash zones and a events when there is little to no light (firework displays, churches, concerts, indoor sports events, etc.), low ISO is usually used when there is a great abundance of light (sunny days, well lit rooms, beaches, etc.). The higher ISO also permits the photographer to capture the same amount of light for faster speeds.
This control not only allows the photographer to control the brightness of an image but also the grain as well. While a picture taken with low ISO has a finer grain and smoother result, a picture taken with high ISO is very grainy. Generally, this is an unwanted effect known as the “noise”, turning up as multicolored speckles in a photo; however, in smaller format pictures, this may not pose as a great problem. Nonetheless to combat the effect, it is helpful to adjust the f stop and shutter speed.
The aperture is an opening through which light travels and is indicated with an f-number. The smaller the number (f/3.5) , the wider the opening and the bigger the number (f/22), the smaller the opening. This translates to the amount of light allowed to be exposed to your image. Just as with shutter speed, the greater amount of light the more overexposed the picture will be so be careful.
Aperature is also a non profit foundation dedicated to promoting the appreciation of photography as a medium. Check them out!
July 9, 2010
- Portrait: the aperature is as large as possible (small f stop) to create a shallow depth of field (blurry background).
- Landscape: the aperature is as small as possible for a large depth of field
- Sports: the shutter speed is set high in order to “stop the action”
- Night: for the maximum amount of light to be capture, the shutter speed is cranked to low
- All Program (P): changes shutter speed and aperature on its own
- Time Value/Shutter Priority (TV): while you are able to control shutter speed, tv decides your aperature for you
- Aperature Priority (AP): while you are able to decide aperature, it decides shutter speed
- Manual(M): let’s you decide aperature, shutter speed, and ISO; allowing you to have the maximum amount of creativity
July 9, 2010
Reality, let’s brush you, dodge you, clone you, burn you, sponge you, crop you slice, paint you, erase you
In my next series of blog posts, you will learn to get things right the first time: the white balance, exposure, focus and more. Yes, we have the choice to utilize the opportunities this digital age has provided us with: the abilities to tweak and knit pick, but like with any other source of media, audiences are anticipating that you are telling the truth. Photography should not be the one and only exception. Let’s get things right with One Shot.