BrickHouse Photo School

Tips, Tricks and Reviews for Photo Hobbyists

Posts Tagged ‘tips

Photo Critique 14: ‘Perfect Hideaway,’ by Adri O.

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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 Adri, my friend in Venezuela.

"Perfect Hideaway," by Adri. O. of Venezuela

"Perfect Hideaway," by Adri. O. of Venezuela

General Overview:
Adri, I really enjoy this image. I can see this image being used for advertising. It has a nice, weathered look. I love the texture on the weathered beach chair and the way it compliments the texture of the rocks. I also like the use of color in this image. It’s a nice, soothing blue tone that helps tie in the beach chair, the ocean and the sky.
This is a nice image. Good job.

Improvements
Here are a few improvements I think will make the image better: First, I think the image would look better if the beach chair filled the entire bottom right corner of the image. I think this will help set the tone for the image a little better. I also think it would help tie in the blue in the chair, the blue in the sky and the blue in the sea a little more.

Cropping and some adjustments to the color saturation makes the image standout a little more. (Photo Credit: Adri O., with edit by Jeremy Schneider)

Cropping and some adjustments to the color saturation makes the image standout a little more. (Photo Credit: Adri O., with edit by Jeremy Schneider)

Secondly, I think the hotspot in the middle of the chair needs to be toned down just a little. Perhaps the use of a polarizing filter or a neutral density filter will help. If you don’t have a ND filter or a polarizer, then I would suggest a little editing in Photoshop help smooth out the blown highlights.

Finally, I think you should edit the photos so the colors pop a little more.

Adri, keep up the good work. Your portfolio is expanding.

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.

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Written by jeremyparce

April 21, 2009 at 7:06 am

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!

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!

Candid Moments Can Make Lasting Memories

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There are times when all the posing in the world just doesn’t make a photo pop. You try every trick in the book and nada – it just ain’t working.
So, what do you do? Wait.

I had tried several things to get a good image of this New Mexico JROTC group but nothing worked. So, I just moved away from them - they were too busy paying attention to me - and just waited. When I no longer held their attention, they went about being themselves and it shows through their facial expressions. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

I had tried several things to get a good image of this New Mexico JROTC group but nothing worked. So, I just moved away from them - they were too busy paying attention to me - and just waited. When I no longer held their attention, they went about being themselves and it shows through their facial expressions. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Patience seems to be one of the hardest things to teach new photographers. Most of them want to shoot, shoot, shoot and shoot some more (spray-and-pray is what we call it). Unfortunately, when the camera is constantly clicking, the subject or subjects get more tense and less likely to allow their true selves to shine through.

If you can’t get a posed photograph to work, there’s nothing wrong with just letting the subject go back to doing whatever it is they were doing before and you – the photographer – sitting there with the camera ready to capture a candid moment.

Candid photos does not mean bad photos. It just means that the subject wasn’t posed and just being themselves. Candid images can be made well and can add more depth to an image than any posed photograph ever could.

Here’s some tips on capturing good candid photos

Stay out of the way – just blend into the environment and let the subjects do what they do naturally.

Be ready – just because you SEEM relaxed and inattentive doesn’t mean you are. Be ready to capture the image when it happens.

Use the largest aperture setting you have available – a larger aperture setting reduces the depth-of-field and causes the background, which may distract from the subject, to blur keeping the focus on the subject.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Software Test Drive II: Tiffen’s Dfx Version 2

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This is the second installment of the Tiffen Dfx Version 2 test drive

I used to hate editing digital photos. I trained in the “film” days and preferred working in the darkroom versus in the “digital darkroom” aka a Mac computer and Adobe’s Photoshop version 4.0.

Original image (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Original image (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Now, things have changed. I use Apple’s Aperture 2.0, Adobe’s Photoshop CS4 Extended and a host of plug-in software that makes editing a little easier and a little less cumbersome.

"Faded" filter

"Faded" filter

So, I’m always excited to try out a new piece of software. After seeing the ads for Tiffen’s Dfx http://www.tiffen.com/dfx_v2_home.html software in numerous photo magazines, I decided to give it a look. Then, I wrote a media release about the software and posted to this Website. Now, I want to show you some quick edits you can make using the program.

Yes, you can do these effects yourself in Photoshop but using the plugin software is way easier … it’s a click of the button versus the trial-and-error process in Photoshop. Plus, once you’ve selected the filter, you can still tweak it out in Photoshop to make the look completely yours.

You can go to the Tiffen Website and downloaded a free 15-day trial of the program as a plugin for Photoshop.

"Antique" filter

"Antique" filter

There are 110 individual filters with thousands of customizable presets. The interface is extremely easy to navigate but I wished the gallery was a little more simplified.

I really like the fact the program supports 16-bit image processing and RAW files (I’m shooting RAW images with a Canon 5D Mark II) and I really like the layering feature so multiple filter effects can be layered.

As a whole, I will give the program a three-out-of-five stars.

Quick Look:
Product: Tiffen Dfx Version 2
Price: $299.95 for Photoshop and Aperture plugin; $99.95 standalone
Website: http://www.tiffen.com/dfx_v2_home.html
Rating: ✭✭✭✰✰

Respecting Culture: Know the Rules Before You Go

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As a photojournalist, I have taken photos of situations in which it would normally be considered rude or insensitive to bring a camera: car accidents, shootings, funerals, wakes, etc. but it was part of the job. For the most part, my presence as a photojournalist was necessary – I was there to tell a story. More often than not, I was invited and discussed the arrangements with the family or the family’s representative. Photojournalists have a code of ethics in which the majority of us hold dear. But what about tourists? Should we, when on vacation, hold ourselves to a code of ethics?

Even though I was on assignment and invited to a public dance in Gallup, I still asked the permission of the dancers to make a photograph. A little common courtesy goes a long way. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Even though I was on assignment and invited to a public dance in Gallup, I still asked the permission of the dancers to make a photograph. A little common courtesy goes a long way. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Yes. I believe we need to be culturally sensitive no matter where we are or whatever the purpose of our photography happens to be.

Take for example the Zuni Tribe who live in the Pueblo of Zuni along the western edge of New Mexico. I worked as a photojournalist in New Mexico and had several opportunities to go to the Pueblo of Zuni for various events. Surrounded by the large Navajo Nation, the Zuni Pueblo is a small, beautiful area away from the nearest city of any size, Gallup.

I would drive down, photograph my assignment, and return to Gallup to edit photos but after a few trip down to Zuni I began to notice the tourists. For the most, they were respectful of the residents of Zuni Pueblo (remember, it’s not a museum, it’s a community just like any other) but there were a few who were, quite simply, very pushy.

So I asked a friend of mine, who was raised in Zuni Pueblo but lived and worked in Gallup, about the tourists. The stories he told, although humorous at times, were shocking. My favorite is a how a lady walked up to his home, opened the door, peered in while he and his brother were playing video games and said “What? Video games? This is supposed to be a REAL Indian village.”

Now, most of us aren’t quite that, ummm, clueless, but there are those who break the rules to some degree or another.

The Zuni Tourism office even has a posting on its Website on how to visit the Pueblo and be respectful. One of the more important – and possibly overlooked – rules is the photography rule posted clearly on the Website:

“Consider capturing visual memories instead of photographs! Assume that ALL “cultural” activities within the Pueblo are off-limits to photograph, video or audio record or sketch unless specifically informed otherwise. Always inquire first and ask permission before photographing any activity involving people. NO photography is permitted of images inside the Old Mission.”

Does this mean you shouldn’t visit Zuni Pueblo? No. Of course not. It’s important, however, to remember to be aware of the social norms of the area.

Just as you would consider it rude for strangers to walk into your church, temple or mosque and take pictures, so too is it rude to photograph the religious and/or cultural activities of another groups’ way of life.

Another example would be that of the Old Order Amish who live mainly in Pennsylvania and Ohio. For the most part, their religious beliefs forbid them to own a photograph or pose for a photograph and they wish to not be photographed. I have, however, seen tourists clicking away even after they have been asked to stop.

If you’re ever asked to stop taking a photo, please respect the rights of the person whom you are photographing. ALWAYS ask permission first if possible. ALWAYS check with tourism offices when traveling to an area that is outside of what you’re used to. If there’s no tourism board, then follow the instructions on signs. A camera isn’t a license to do whatever you want whenever you want. It’s a tool to make memories, preserve emotions and convey a message so convey the message of sensitivity by NOT making photos when it’s inappropriate.

Tips and Tricks: Look for Facial Expressions in Sports Photos

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I don’t pretend to be a know-it-all sports photographer. It’s an area of photography in which practice makes perfect but through my career – especially while working in photojournalism – I have had many opportunities to photography sporting events.

The eyes have it. Look for emotion in sports images. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Schneider)

The eyes have it. Look for emotion in sports images. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Schneider)

One of the more frequent complaints I hear from both students and photo hobbyists who photography sports is their images lack a certain “punch.” So here’s a little tip that my help: Look for emotion.

I’ve said it before on this Website … emotion is the one element a photograph needs to communicate and it holds true in sports photography as much as it does for portrait work.

Sports, fortunately, are ripe with expressive moments. It just a matter of catching the right look, the right facial expression at the right moment. It takes time, patience, practice and the right gear to do so.

Keep your eyes open and stay focused on the game. Once you get the “rhythm” of the game down, then you’ll be able to predict when the action – and emotion – will occur.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

April 13, 2009 at 5:36 am