The beginners guide to shutter speed

The beginners guide to shutter speed

Part Three of our series on exposure

Part one: good exposure and how to recognise it.

Part two:  the magic of balance and the exposure triangle

Now we now how to recognise good exposure, just how does our camera capture just the right balance of light in our photo?  Of all the many buttons, dials and knobs on our cameras, there are three key settings that control the amount of light in our photos and thus the exposure.  Shutter speed, aperture and ISO.  If the camera has the right balance of these three elements, our photo will have the correct exposure.  Easy right?

Because you’re reading this, you’ll likely be a bit of a visual person, what with loving photos and wanting to take better pictures and all. So there’s a good chance you read the paragraph above, maybe even said the words in your head but your brain really only registered, blah, blah, blah, shutter speed, blah, blah, balance. At least that’s what my brain does when it reads something new 😉

This is where the exposure triangle comes in. It’s a lovely graphical representation of the three key elements that need to be balanced to achieve correct exposure. If you’re shooting in auto, your camera will do this behind the scenes for you, mostly choosing the “safest” middle ground balance of the three elements and often lacking the magical creativity these three elements bring to photography.

 This is where the magic of manual photography comes in! Each of these elements has a different creative effect on your photo, depending on how you balance these settings, you can really change the way your photo looks, just like magic!

  • Shutter speed can freeze or blur motion,
  • Aperture can ensure the whole image is sharp, or the distracting back ground is burred, and
  • ISO increase the sensitivity of the camera to light so we can shoot in darker locations, with the trade off of increased grain when ISO is high.
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Right now, this might not mean much to you, other than as an interesting trivia answer.  But if you’ve always wanted to get off auto and take control of your camera.  You’ve just taken the first step!

Keep an eye out for part three, where I’ll go into a little more about these three elements 🙂

Sensational sunset portraits made easy

Sensational sunset portraits made easy

Remember that time you and your family were down at the beach, local park or back deck with the panorama vista?  It was the end of a gorgeous day, everyone was happy and relaxed AND as if in recognition of your amazing day, the sky puts on the show of it’s life!  The sunset is amazing!  Naturally out comes the camera’s and iPhones and everyone snaps away trying to capture that magic in the perfect photo – kids are lined up, families scrunching together in front of natures most spectacular back drop.

Except the photos are crap.

Either you’ve captured the sky at it’s best, but you can hardly see the family, or, the family look OK but the sunset is washed out, a mere shadow of reality.

Taking portraits at sunset with natural light is hard.  Really hard.  What if there was a few simple tricks you could use to make the most of that beautiful moment?  Every time. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back!

Sunset portraits

The key is to look at the light!   The difference in light between the sunset and the subject is normally too great for the camera to capture both.  You need to make sure your subject has some light falling on their face.  With natural light (no flash), this will often mean your subject turning slightly towards the sunset, like the boy above.  Can you see how some light from the setting sun is falling on his face?  In the image below,  the kids are facing away from the sun, there is no light falling on their faces, so we can’t see them well at all.

So next time, look to the light for great sunset portraits.

What if you want to take a silhouette?

Brilliant idea, I love silhouettes, and they’re often the simplest and most powerful image to take in natural light at sunset. But for my money, if your taking a sunset silhouette, you need some action rather than a staid standing poses (after all we can’t see the subjects eyes or smiles).  Luckily, kids and action come hand in hand 🙂

If you’d like to learn more, as well as a few quick tricks you can do in lightroom that will really lift your sunset portraits, check out my new video guide: Sensational Sunsets.  I’ve put together a video guide to take you step by step through shooting sunsets, as well as walking you through basic lightroom edits to take your sunset portraits to the next level!

Sensation sunsets guide

$49.00 – Buy Now Includes 10% tax

(This is an instant download)

The magic of balance and the exposure triangle

The magic of balance and the exposure triangle

Part two of our series of posts on exposure

Part one: good exposure and how to recognise it.

Now we now how to recognise good exposure, just how does our camera capture just the right balance of light in our photo?  Of all the many buttons, dials and knobs on our cameras, there are three key settings that control the amount of light in our photos and thus the exposure.  Shutter speed, aperture and ISO.  If the camera has the right balance of these three elements, our photo will have the correct exposure.  Easy right?

Because you’re reading this, you’ll likely be a bit of a visual person, what with loving photos and wanting to take better pictures and all. So there’s a good chance you read the paragraph above, maybe even said the words in your head but your brain really only registered, blah, blah, blah, shutter speed, blah, blah, balance. At least that’s what my brain does when it reads something new 😉

This is where the exposure triangle comes in. It’s a lovely graphical representation of the three key elements that need to be balanced to achieve correct exposure. If you’re shooting in auto, your camera will do this behind the scenes for you, mostly choosing the “safest” middle ground balance of the three elements and often lacking the magical creativity these three elements bring to photography.

 This is where the magic of manual photography comes in! Each of these elements has a different creative effect on your photo, depending on how you balance these settings, you can really change the way your photo looks, just like magic!

  • Shutter speed can freeze or blur motion,
  • Aperture can ensure the whole image is sharp, or the distracting back ground is burred, and
  • ISO increase the sensitivity of the camera to light so we can shoot in darker locations, with the trade off of increased grain when ISO is high.
learn photography

Right now, this might not mean much to you, other than as an interesting trivia answer.  But if you’ve always wanted to get off auto and take control of your camera.  You’ve just taken the first step!

Keep an eye out for part three, where I’ll go into a little more about these three elements 🙂

Good exposure and how to recognise it

Good exposure and how to recognise it

Part one of our series of posts on exposure

Imagine that you’d never ever eaten pizza, you didn’t really know what it looked like.  You had a vague idea it might involve cheese, but you really don’t know if it had tomato or involved some sort of bread.  Even if you were given all the raw ingredients, you’d be feeling pretty lost if you were tasked to  make a great pizza.  Would you even make something flat?  Maybe you’d end up with a cheese and tomato cake, or an olive and basil pie.  But a great pizza,  the chances are slim.  And if you did manage to produce a great pizza, would you know?

Trying to take a great photograph without understanding good exposure is much the same.  Even if it takes you some time understand how to achieve it – knowing and recognising good exposure is easy peasy!  And once you can see good exposure, you’ll well be on the way to working out how to improve your photographs.

A “good” exposure has the right amount of light on the subject.  

Just like goldilocks, it’s not too light & not too dark.  It’s just right.

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Too Dark

Underexposed

Not enough light

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Just right

Good exposure

Too light

Over exposure

Too much light

These three images show you in the simplest way what good exposure is.  No need to get technical, learning about histograms or stops. Simply look at your photos with your critical eye and ask yourself if your subject well balanced in terms of light.  Not too dark or too light, but just right.

Good exposure = balance.

So off you go, take a look at your photo’s and see how you’ve been going with your exposures.  Now that you can see it, we can work on getting good exposure, and I promise – achieving good light balance in your photo’s is going to be so much easier than getting balance in your life :).

Check out the next instalment in our exposure series

Part two: the magic of balance and the exposure triangle

7 tips to take your best family photo ever!

7 tips to take your best family photo ever!

Creating a gorgeous gift for Nanna or personalising your Christmas cards and gift tags with a family photo? Is this the only time of year everyone is together to capture a family photo?

Set yourself up for your best family portrait yet with these simple tips – and most of them come down to where to take the photo.

Bright sun

It’s tempting to get everyone outside in full sun to take the picture, it’s bright and there’s plenty of space. However, if you have everyone facing the sun, they will all be squinting and not looking their best. You might not even be able see their eyes at all, and the eyes key for a great portrait.

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Patchy light

So now you move under a tree for a little shade, or perhaps under the front veranda. This might be perfect, but take a close look first. You want to make sure everyone is in the same light and no one has a bright patch of sun on their face.

Too dark.

So what about inside? This can work for small groups if you can find a place in a big bright room with a big window. But most of the time, it will be too dark, you’ll struggle to get everyone in focus or the image might end up dark and noisy (that’s that speckled grainy look). Your shutter speed will be slow so if your kids move fast they’ll end up with blurry arms legs and maybe even faces.

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learn photography

Open shade for the win!

The best location will be a place with nice even shade that’s not too far from the sun, what we call “open shade”. Think a wall or garage door on the shady side of the house, under the front patio or even open the front door and stand the kids on the door frame.  Take a look at the pull back from this shot below to get an idea of where to find this lovely light!

Messy and cluttered backgrounds

Once you’ve chosen the perfect spot, take a quick look around, is there anything in the background that could be removed or cropped out? Common things are the garden hose, kids or pets toys, old ratty (or even nice) garden furniture. Taking a minute to slide these out of the way will make your family stand out.  In this image I’ve simply cropped in to eliminate the clutter 🙂

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photography course

Don’t take just one

Perhaps we are stating the obvious here, but taking the family portrait is a good time for what professionals call “spray and pray” Put the camera in burst mode or rapid fire and hold down the shutter button and take a bunch of shots. Then pause, do something silly and do it again. You’ve got a better chance of one shot with no blinks or funny faces.

Sunglasses, hats & phones in pockets

Ok so this is more for the adults in the shot, my little rascals look kinda cute (styling was 100% them)  A quick check to make sure sunglasses are off and those giant phones aren’t in pockets is a must. If you’re taking the shot outside and someone has transition lenses – have them keep them in the dark and put them on at the very last minute so they don’t go dark. To my mind, your eyes are  almost always THE most important part of the portrait.

Happy shooting!

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