BrickHouse Photo School

Tips, Tricks and Reviews for Photo Hobbyists

Posts Tagged ‘close up

Sigma announces the launch of the new 10mm f/2.8 EX DC Fisheye HSM lens

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I will often publish media releases related to photography on this blog in order to help keep you informed. These media releases are created by the respective companies. I edit the releases for space as needed.

This autofocus fisheye lens is designed for use with digital SLR cameras equipped with APS-C size image sensors. The Nikon version produces a diagonal angle of view of 180°(154° for Sigma, 167° for Canon).
The diagonal field of view of this fisheye lens produces striking images with exaggerated perspective and distortion. The minimum focusing distance of 5.3 inches, and maximum magnification 1:3.3 allows subjects to be as close as 0.7 inch from the lens’ front element.

Sigma's 10mm f/2.8 EX DC Fisheye HSM lens. (Photo Credit: Sigma Photo)

Sigma's 10mm f/2.8 EX DC Fisheye HSM lens. (Photo Credit: Sigma Photo)

This close focusing capability allows close-up photography and also it is possible to make use of large depth of field that covers wide range of subjects. The Integral hood blocks out extraneous light and the Super Multi-Layer Coating minimizes flare and ghosting, creating superior image quality. The HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) ensures fast and quiet autofocusing and allows full-time manual focus override by rotation of the focus ring. This lens is supplied with a gelatin filter holder at the rear.

The lens is now available for Sony/Minolta digital SLRs, and Pentax digital SLRs.
The street value of the lens in about $1,000 US.

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Photo Tips: The Two-Minute Portrait

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The words, “smile and say cheese!” usually does not mark the beginning of a great portrait. As a beginning/novice photographer, you probably want to make portraits that “look professional” but lack the information on how to do so.
It’s simple if you follow some very basic steps. Here are some tips that will have you making great portraits in less time than you would think.

Step 1: Get the right background

If you want to highlight the subject, don’t allow the background to compete with the subject for the viewer’s attention. Busy, noisy and loud backgrounds distract from the subject unless you’re very experienced and have a great lighting setup and even then it’s a crapshoot.
Keep the background simple. Backgrounds with solid, neutral colors work best. A white wall is ideal but any solid color works.

A simple background and good natural lighting will help you make great portraits. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

A simple background and good natural lighting will help you make great portraits. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Step 2: Get Good Lighting
Unless you’re using a shoe-mounted flash or other pro-quality lighting, find a strong source of natural light. A portrait near a window where there is a good quantity of light is ideal or go outside where natural light is plentiful.
Remember, the sun should be to the side of your subject. If the subject is looking directly into the sun his/her eyes will squint and if the sun is behind the subject, you’ll get an underexposure.
The popup flash on your camera will probably ruin a good portrait with cast shadows so try to avoid using the popup flash.
If you are using a shoe-mounted flash, then try bouncing the flash instead of shooting with the flash pointed directly at the subject.

Step 3: Get Vertical
Horizontally aligned portraits don’t really allow you to utilize your frame the best. Shoot vertical instead so you get more up-and-down room. Even better, shoot the portrait both horizontally and vertically and see for yourself which photo looks better.

Step 4: Get the Right Emotion
Portrait subjects don’t always have to smile. Believe it or not, that’s a tough habit to break for some photographers. Don’t get me wrong, smiling is OK but try to make it less forced. A nice, natural smile will outshine a “Say Cheese!” photo anytime.

Step 5: Get Close
Try to fill the frame with your subject. Try getting close and then work you way back.

Don't be afraid to get close to your subject. Try different distances for different looks. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Don't be afraid to get close to your subject. Try different distances for different looks. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Bonus Tip:
Don’t forget to try the images in both color AND black and white. B&W will help really well if you want to focus more on the subject than the color of clothing or background colors. Plus, B&W gives an image a nice, “classy” feel.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

February 20, 2009 at 3:15 am

Expressing Personality Isn’t Just for ‘People Photos’

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If you have a pet, you know how expressive they can be and you know that each one has a unique personality.
Why not express your pet’s personality in a photograph?
You don’t have to have an elaborate set up nor do you need any specialized equipment. All you need is a little time to follow your pet around and a little patience to wait for the right moment.

Newton, our 7 month old Schnoodle, is extremely curious so I thought an image of his nose would help express his curiosity. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Newton, our 7 month old Schnoodle, is extremely curious so I thought an image of his nose would help express his curiosity. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

How To Do It
First, figure out what your pet’s personality is. Is he lazy? Playful? Curious? Well, find a way to illustrate the emotion in a photograph.
The key to a good pet photo is patience. Give him time to settle in and get used to the camera. As soon as your pet is tired of you, he’ll go back to being himself and that’s when you’ll get your best shots.

Remember, compose the shot. Look for interesting ways to illustrate the message about your pet’s personality. Also, try to keep your background simple and use the largest aperture value you have available in order to keep the background from competing with the subject. Also, the largest aperture value will allow you to use the fastest shutter speed available for the aperture setting. This will help reduce blurred images as animals are prone to quick movements.

With a little time and patience, you should get some images that really showcases your four-legged friend’s true colors.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

February 20, 2009 at 12:20 am

Photo Critique 2: ‘Mauricio,’ by Daniel M.

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I love critiquing photos. It’s the best way to learn and get new ideas for photo shoots. Today, we’re going to critique an image made by Daniel, a former student of mine in Miami.

Mauricio, a portrait by Daniel of Miami, Florida

'Mauricio,' a portrait by Daniel of Miami, Florida

General Overview:
Daniel, you take great portraits and this is another example of your good work. You have a great eye for composition and lighting.

This is a nice portrait because, like Carla’s, of its relative simplicity. The viewer is drawn to the subject and you captured the subject’s mood very well. You did a great job showing emotion without using complex themes.
You can be very proud of this image.

Improvements
There are just a few things I would improve in this image. First, there are some hot spots on the nose, the right lower portion of the eye and the left upper corner of the eye. Those hotspots can easily be edited out of the image. Next, perhaps a little lighting under the subject would help give more definition between the chin and the neck. Also, I would use the healing brush (in Adobe Photoshop) and clean any areas of the skin that need a little touch up. Finally, I think I would have lit the hair just a little more to add some highlight and contrast.
If you would have used a low-powered light under the subject and a disc reflector above to bounce some light on the hair, the image would have looked better.

I like hard directional lighting and, as usual, you did an outstanding job.

Thanks for the submission, good luck and keep shooting!

If you would like to submit a photo for critique, e-mail us at submissions@brickhousephotoschool.com.

Written by jeremyparce

February 19, 2009 at 12:57 am

Photo Ideas: Photo Opportunities Around the House

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I’ve heard it many, many times from students and it’s generally said with a slight whine, “There’s NOTHING to photograph!”

There’s always SOMETHING to photograph. Even if you photographed every single item in your home, there’s always a different way to do it.

That’s what makes photography fun and interesting. There’s almost always something new to shoot and almost always a new way to shoot the same subject differently.

Hey, you’ve already made a fairly decent financial investment in your camera so don’t let the money go to waste. Plus, with digital photography, it doesn’t cost a dime to take photos, review them or edit them. You never know, you might nail a shot that would make a nice print.

Here are a few ideas for those times you just can’t think of anything to photograph:

Take a walk around the kitchen and look for different subjects. Here, packages of coffee made an interesting composition. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Take a walk around the kitchen and look for different subjects. Here, packages of coffee made an interesting composition. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

  • The Kitchen: If your house is anything like mine, the kitchen is the epicenter of activity. It’s not just where food is prepared and eaten, it’s the place to sit and talk, think, argue, and reconcile. It’s also the site for epic games of Rook but that’s for another time. The kitchen is also overflowing with color. Fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, pots, pans, cans, bowls … the list could go on forever. Spend some time looking around the kitchen and see if you can’t come up with a few photo subjects.
  • The Garage: The garage is another place full of photographic subjects waiting to be photographed. Hand tools, garden tools, even old bottles make for interesting subjects.
  • Curio Cabinets: If you have a macro lens, the curio cabinet can be a treasure trove of ideas. Make portraits out of figurines, dolls or any other collectable you might have.
  • Follow the Pets: Become a photojournalist and document your pets’ day. Spend some time following them around and document what they do.
I spent about 10 minutes looking around outside for something to photograph and found this faucet valve. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

I spent about 10 minutes looking around outside for something to photograph and found this faucet valve. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Here’s another tip: If you don’t want to focus on color, try black and white. B&W photos will also help you focus more on texture and less on color. And remember, compose  your images in order to communicate your message.

There are always things to photograph come rain or shine, outdoors or in. It’s up to you to get creative.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

February 18, 2009 at 10:28 pm

Valentine’s Day Flowers are a Double Treat

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If you were lucky enough to receive flowers for Valentine’s Day you’re in luck because you have a ready-to-go subject to photograph.

Flowers are the perfect photographic subject. Unlike people, the don’t whine, fidget about and you can move them just about anywhere you want.

Fresh out of ideas? Try these:

  • Close-ups: If you have a macro lens, flowers are a create subject to explore. Get close and exam individual petals or the stamens. Experiment with different aperture settings to see what look you like best.

    Experiment with different aperture values when using a macro lens to see what effect you like best. (Photo credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

    Experiment with different aperture values when using a macro lens to see what effect you like best. (Photo credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

  • Portraits: Put the flowers in the hands of a child or your loved one. Try photographs where the flowers are the subject and not just a prop.
  • Still Life: Photograph the arrangement as a whole or set up a whole prop where the flowers are the subject. Design the set around the flowers. Look for different colors to compliment the shoot. Wanna go bold? Shoot the flowers in black and white and study the texture.

Don’t let those flowers go to waste! Use them to explore color, texture and light. Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

February 17, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Portrait Tip: Get Close

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Jeremy W. Schneider)

Getting close to your subject helps eliminate competing elements from taking the focus away from your subject. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

I love portraits. I especially like the low-frill, natural light type where the emphasis is placed squarely on the subject.

Beginning photographers often don’t own a lot of lighting equipment or a host of lenses to make technically complex portraits but that’s OK. You can make beautiful portraits utilizing some very basic techniques.

One of the best things you can do to make a great portrait is get close to your subject. It sounds basic, and really it is, but too many times beginning photographers stand too far away from the subject and let the background compete with the subject for the viewer’s attention.

By getting close, you eliminate distractions and compel the viewer to focus on the subject.

There’s one important thing to remember, though. You have to make your subject connect with the viewer. So look for something “special” about your subject. Maybe it’s the subject’s smile or the subject’s eyes. Look for a flattering way to connect your subject to the viewer.

So, get busy and start making portraits that pop!

Written by jeremyparce

February 15, 2009 at 1:10 am