BrickHouse Photo School

Tips, Tricks and Reviews for Photo Hobbyists

Posts Tagged ‘framing

Enjoy the Everyday with Photography

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For all of you wandering about your home looking for photographic subjects take note: Trying photographing the everyday things in your life in a new way. Photographic subjects are everywhere. It just takes a little time and a lot of imagination to cull them out and make them shine.

Here are a few tips to help you out when there’s “nothing to shoot:”

  • Look to the Lawn: If you have a lawn, especially a landscaped one, then you may not have to go any further than your own property. Since spring has sprung in many places, now is a great opportunity to get outside and shoot. Flowers, insects, and decorative lawn ornaments make for nice subjects. Try different things, too. Trying getting close or shooting from different levels. Try arranging small compositions. Be creative!

    Try photographing flowers in black-and-white so you can focus on texture. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

    Try photographing flowers in black-and-white so you can focus on texture. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

  • Four-legged Friends: Pets always make good subjects. Sometimes they can be a little difficult but if you just sit down, eventually they will lose interest in you and your camera and go back to doing what they do best.

    Newton, my into everything Schnoodle, stops for a quick pose before destroying a tulip. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

    Newton, my into everything Schnoodle, stops for a quick pose before destroying a tulip. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

  • Clothing: Clothes? Sure. Why not? There are plenty of people who make a GOOD living photographing clothes and fashion so why not practice fashion photography yourself? If you have a willing model, it’s even better but you can still photograph clothing without a person. Try playing with lights and colors.

    Try photographing all types of clothes and accesories. Another tip: Hats make interesting subjects. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

    Try photographing all types of clothes and accesories. Another tip: Hats make interesting subjects. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

  • Musical Instruments: Have a piano or guitar around the house? If so, get creative and photograph someone playing. Better yet, make the instrument the subject and try to arrange it in creative ways.
  • Figurines: Still life images of figurines is especially interesting if you own a macro lens. Get close and make little portraits out of your little collectibles.

    Focus on the small things ... a figurine makes for an interesting photo. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

    Focus on the small things ... a figurine makes for an interesting photo. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

  • In the Kitchen: Look for items laying around in the kitchen. Try food photography or product photography. Try arranging little scenes and see what happens.

No matter what you may thing, there’s always an opportunity to hone your photographic skills and make images. It just takes a little creativity and some time. You never know … you might have some wall art just waiting.

Good luck and keep shooting!

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Sports Photography Isn’t Always About the Action

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Sports photography seems to be one of the more frequent topics I am asked about and for good reason. Many parents have children who participate in athletics and being active parents, they want to capture their child’s activities in photographs.

While lacking much action, this photo would be acceptable to hang on any wall or e-mail to relatives. Without the proper gear, sports photography - especially capturing action - is tough. So, work within the limits of your gear. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

While lacking much action, this photo would be acceptable to hang on any wall or e-mail to relatives. Without the proper gear, sports photography - especially capturing action - is tough. So, work within the limits of your gear. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Unfortunately, these parents lack the photographic equipment (a basic sports photography setup for pros would set you back more than $10,000 not to mention the experience and training it takes to make good sports images) so these parent/photographers become discouraged because the images they have are not the Sports Illustrated-quality images they envisioned.

Sometimes the quiet moments of sports helps express emotion without the action. This photo was taken at a track & field event in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Sometimes the quiet moments of sports helps express emotion without the action. This photo was taken at a track & field event in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

There are some options. First, I guess you could buy the equipment, enroll in some classes and start working hard to become good at sports photography. The second option is to hire a photographer to photograph your child’s sporting events – it’s not cheap, but you should get some high-quality results or, finally, you can do yourself but within the limits of your current gear.

If you lack a telephoto lens and a camera that will capture images at a high frames-per-second rate (above 5 fps would be best) there are still things you can do to help capture images worthy of hanging on the walls or e-mailing relatives.

Predicting Action
First, you can attempt to predict the action. If you know where the subject is going to be you can prefocus on that area and make an image when the player/subject enters the frame. It takes a lot of trial-and-error but it is possible. If you’re using a DSLR or an extremely high-end point-and-shoot camera, this may be a good technique to try.

Waiting for Breaks in the Action
You can make good images during breaks in the action. For instance, when the coach is talking to players, during a water break or when there’s a timeout. Let me advise this, however. If a player is injured, it’s common courtesy among photographers to put down the camera.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Look For Different Views

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Too often, beginning photographers lock their bodies into one position and don’t move. They stand, they shoot their subjects standing and they never look for anything out of the ordinary.

That’s too bad. Some nice images can be made by shooting from different angles. Get above your subject and photograph down; get below you subject and photograph up. Move around and try different distances and various points-of-view. You’ll never know what you’ll get until you try.

Don't be afraid to 'break the rules.' Interesting images can be made by trying different angles and different points-of-view. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Don't be afraid to 'break the rules.' Interesting images can be made by trying different angles and different points-of-view. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Some Tips:

  • When photographing children at play, look for the small actions. Zoom in and focus on what they do with their hands or focus solely on their expressions.
  • Shoot tight: Don’t be afraid to zoom in and get tight on the subject.
  • Look at the eyes: Some people are just really expressive with their eyes. Zoom in and get close.
  • Legs and feet: Good action shots can be made from zooming in on the feet and legs, especially in sporting events. Play around with different shutter speeds to show more action through motion blur.
  • Break the rules: Don’t be afraid to break any rule you’ve heard about photography. Breaking the rules can lead to great images.
  • Play with ISO settings: Different ISO settings will give you different looks. The higher the ISO – 800 and above – the more grain. Try it and see if your images look different.

Remember, you can’t learn unless you make tons of mistakes. Trust me, I should have learned a lot by the number of mistakes I’ve made. It’s been said that Thomas Edison was once asked how he felt about failing so many times inventing the light bulb. Allegedly, his reply was, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Whether he said it or not, it’s a good quote to work by. You can’t fail at photography, but you sure can find many ways some techniques don’t work. That’s OK. The good thing about digital photography is you don’t “waste” film. If you don’t like it, delete it and keep trying.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

March 10, 2009 at 10:00 am

Tilted Horizons: Maybe, Maybe Not

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Of all the techniques a photographer can use to create a sense of motion in an image, tilted horizons are one of the gray areas. Some people like them; some don’t. Some photos look good with a tilted horizon; some don’t.

Tilted horizons are created by holding the camera off-level. It’s a technique used to give a sense of motion or to throw the viewer off angle. It’s a technique that can easily backfire as some images just really don’t look good tilted no matter what you do.

Sometimes a tilted horizon really expresses a sense of motion. It's a good technique but not applicable to every shot you're going to make. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Sometimes a tilted horizon really expresses a sense of motion. It's a good technique but not applicable to every shot you're going to make. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

But don’t be afraid to try it. You never know when you’re gonna make an image that looks good.

Here’s some tips to follow when shooting a tilted horizon:

  • Don’t make the tilt look accidental. If you’re going to tilt the horizon, it has to demonstrate that you did it on purpose or else it looks like an “oops” moment.
  • Try different degrees of tilt. Move your camera different degrees between true horizontal and true vertical.
  • Make sure the angle you use compliments the directional movement you want to emphasize.
  • Don’t make the tilted image the only photo you take of the subject. The tilted horizon shot should be one of those “let’s see if this works” photos, and not “all of the eggs in one basket” photo.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

February 21, 2009 at 4:15 pm

Effectively Using a Shallow Depth-of-Field

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Today’s digital SLR cameras are extremely advanced in technology while being very user friendly. Today’s DSLRs are feature-rich and entry-level models are very well priced.

Unfortunately, when people purchase an entry-level model DSLR, they never seem to get beyond the automatic settings. Although today’s cameras are smart and you’ll almost certainly always get usable photos from the automatic settings, you may want a photograph to have a more polished, professional look.

I’m going to make a fairly safe assumption here and say that pros rarely, if ever, use the camera’s automatic setting. You won’t have to either with a little practice and soon you’ll be making better images than ever before.

I’ll be discussing the use of shutter speed, film speed and aperture values in great detail on this Website. For now, though, I just want to give you one little tip to help you make better images.

Depth-of-Field Basics
Let’s first examine the term depth-of-field. For the purpose of our discussion here, the depth-of-field is the measurement of how much of the background

Jeremy W. Schneider)

A shallow depth-of-field causes the background to blur so the background doesn't compete with the subject. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

is in focus behind the subject. For instance, this image has a relatively shallow depth-of-field because very little behind the subject is in focus:

Notice how the background is “fuzzy” and out of focus? That’s because I’m utilizing a shallow depth-of-field. Why? Because when I noticed the background, I saw that it was distracting. There were twigs, leaves, and some other unflattering objects in the background that I didn’t want in the image.

An unflattering background will absolutely KILL a great shot. A distracting background takes the viewers’ attention away from the subject.

Controlling Depth-of-Field
Depth-of-field is controlled by the lens’ aperture. Again, in future posts we’ll go into deeper detail about the aperture but for now, let’s just remember that it controls the depth-of-field.

Where to Begin
First, take your DSLR off the automatic setting and put it on the “Av” or “A” setting. This is the aperture control setting. In this mode, you control what aperture setting you want and the camera will calculate the corresponding shutter speed.

Now, the aperture settings are measured in units called “F-stops.” The numbers are generally written as “f/number” such as f/2.8 or f/4 or f/5.6. These units measure how large the aperture is opened, thus measuring how much light is allowed into the camera.

Here’s the little oddity about F-values: The smaller the number, the larger the aperture opening and vice versa. For example: f/2.8 has a larger opening than f/5.6.

The larger the opening, the shallower the depth-of-field. So, you would see more background in focus if the aperture setting is at f/8 than if the setting was at f/2.8.

Confused? Don’t be. Just remember this: The smaller the number, the less background that is in focus.

Jeremy W. Schneider)

This image has a depth-of-field that allows the subjects - the two ATVs - to be in focus but starts to get less focused deeper into the image. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Now that you understand how this works, go out and try different F-values and experiment to see what results you get. I guarantee you’ll make better images by controlling the aperture value.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

February 16, 2009 at 12:14 am

Composing Tip: Frame-within-a-Frame

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Photographic composition is a topic we’re going to discuss in great detail on this Website. Simply put, composition is the arrangement of items inside the photograph and the interaction of these objects with one another.

For the purpose of this discussion, let’s consider there are only 2 objects in the photograph: One, the subject and, two, the background.

Before we go further let’s examine one fundamental concept: You are making images for a viewer. That viewer may only be you but more than likely you’ll want to show off your images to others. Beginning photographers often forget the audience aspect of photography and because of this, they forget to emphasize what they think is important about the photo.

Remember, the viewer can’t read your mind. You need to give them visual clues as to what YOU, the photographer, thought was important when you made the photograph.

First Step: Visualize the Photograph
It’s important to first visualize the photograph you’re going to make. Ask yourself:

  • What’s the important feature of this photograph?
  • What do I want the viewer to focus on?
  • What, if any, emotion am I trying to convey?

If you keep your audience in mind and mentally construct how you’re going to convey your photographic message, you’re going to make better images.

Jeremy W. Schneider)

Using the Civil Air Patrol cadets' bodies to create a frame, the viewers' attention is drawn to the flag bearer. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Determining Visual Clues
Once you’ve determined what you want to focus on in the photograph, you need to decide how you’re going to get your audience to focus on that object.

Some photographs don’t need visual clues. Sometimes it’s OK to let the viewer’s eyes just wander around in the frame. Other times, it’s important to help the viewer focus.

Jeremy W. Schneider)

In this image, I'm using the sides of the elevator to help from the subjects. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Frame-within-a-Frame
One technique is framing the subject within the photographic frame. This means using the background or the subject to help frame what you want to convey to your viewers.

Look at the images embedded into this article and decide whether or not the frame-within-a-frame technique was useful in helping you focus on the subject.

Remember, like any technique there’s no formula for absolute success. It’s a trial-and-error process. Also remember that in photography, there’s not a one-size-fits-all technique. Good luck and keep shooting!

Jeremy W. Schneider)

Using the subject's hands helps create both an interesting look and draw the viewers to the subject's face. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Written by jeremyparce

February 15, 2009 at 7:09 am