Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Halloween Photography Tips

It’s Halloween Time! Dust off the costumes and get the trick-or-treats ready. There’s loads of prospective opportunities for eerie and dramatic images.
However, did you also know that Halloween photos are some of the most challenging to get right? There’s low light, loads of movement, tricky lighting situations, contrasting brightness and darkness and maybe hyper kids. Here’s a few tips to get the best images of this night of spooks, spirits, gremlins and monsters.
Ask yourself before you click: What is the main subject, how can I simplify it, and how can I capture the spirit (of the character or scene that is)?  This means:

Get in close: You may have heard us say this before – ‘cut the crap’. Eliminate distracting backgrounds.
Try using a wide aperture: blurs backgrounds and isolates your subject.

Use dramatic Lighting: Shoot in low or dim light. Use your flash sparingly if at all and if you do use it, diffuse it and make sure there are no reflective surfaces behind your subject.
Flash is a harsh light and can kill any eerie effect you may be attempting to portray. Try using other light sources like candles, coloured LED lights and torches.
Try lighting your subject from below and using back lighting.
Have fun with glow sticks, torches, coloured LED lights, even turning your camera upside down so the flash fires from below if you don’t have an external flash.
Change the colour of your light: tinted lighting adds to the spooky feel. Particularly good colours to create eerie feeling as are red, orange, green and blue. Try using cellophane (you may need to over expose), coloured LED lights, glow sticks
Play with multiple exposures: fun, fun and fun!
Get on down: If photographing children get down to their level. Tip: try lying on the ground and having the child lean over you for a very dramatic image angle.
Play with White Balance:
For Jack O' Lanterns: A tricky lighting scenario! You want to be able to capture the candles glow inside the pumpkin and the see the outside form and texture as well. Flash will kill it so turn it off!
Place more than one candle inside the pumpkin to avoid it being too faint or even a flash light. Be careful your pumpkin does not start smoking! If you do want to use more candles you may need to cut a hole near the top at the back to act like a chimney. Try taking some images in the very last of the days light.
If you are making your own jack-o-lantern then consider that the more light they can emit out will make them appear more eerie so it’s best to maximise the size of the holes to let out as much candle light as you can (start searching for a big pumpkin!).
Angle of View: Try moving from eye level shots and create dramatically creepy images by changing your angle of view. Try shooting off centre, at extreme angles; close to the ground, above your subject – just make sure you angle is obvious. Tip: With most costumes the shoes are the part people mostly don’t match so often it’s best not to have them in the image at all – sometimes though they are great subjects. Just remember to check them out before you click.
Create a story: Take your viewer on a journey – this works great for kids making their costume, getting dressed and then heading out on their adventure (and for us big kids too). Don’t forget the candid shots too.
Use movement: Ah ghostly images with movement now that’s a shot! Use a slow shutter speed and low ISO. Yes you’ll need to experiment a bit but that’s half the fun. Try having you subject still for 2/3rds of your exposure time and then moving in the last 1/3rd of the exposure.
Noise or no noise? Now we are talking ISO noise here. Generally you will not want noise in your images so keep that ISO low.
Don’t forget: Extra batteries, lockable cable release, tripod and plenty of memory cards!
Have fun!

Did you know? Halloween has its origins from an ancient Celtic festival known as the Samhain and more or less means ‘summer’s end’. Today, it’s a night festival of spooks and spirits, fantasy, bright and or bizarre costumes celebrated by all ages across the globe.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Using a Grey Card for Photography

Interesting enough lately I have been seeing more than one discussion on the use of a grey card for photography and if it makes a difference. The topics have been varied from photographers saying they are a waste of money to others who are misleading some on what they are actually used for and  how to use them correctly.
Recently on our Bluedog-Kingfisher Bay Fraser Island Photography Tour we revisited the use of the grey card and Judy has kindly sent in the images below that she took which demonstrates how it works perfectly. Neither of these images has been touched in Photoshop or another editing program.
What we need to understand when wanting correctly exposed images is how light works and how our cameras read light.
Reflected Light:
This is the light our cameras light meter reads. It measures the light reflecting off the subject. A dark object reflect less light than a bright subject and therefore this can trick our cameras light meter.
Incident Light:
Is the light falling on our subject. This was the light our hand held meters usually read. And therefore were not influenced by the subject's reflectance. Many hand held meters can read both incident and reflected light. Incident light meters can be identified by their white translucent dome over the light sensor.
In summing up, the grey card is one of the most useful, inexpensive tools you can have in your kit and knowing how light is read by your camera and how you can adjust your exposure means you are in control. You are the one that can get exposure right in camera – your whites white and your blacks black - which means, you are the photographer!
Tips for Using a Grey Card:
Always position the card parallel to the front surface of your lens.
Don’t tip the card towards the light as it be reflecting too much light and not give an accurate reading.
Don’t tip the card down – then there’s less light, the opposite of above.
Be careful using other grey objects just because they look ‘close enough’. Their reflectance may trick your cameras meter.

This image was taken using what the cameras meter said was the correct reading.

This image was taken using after using a grey
card to set the cameras meter reading.

Images courtesy of Judy Watts

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Photography Work of Maya Guiez

Based in New York, the Israeli born Guiez is fast becoming a name in photography. Already travelling the world shooting fashion, glamour and beauty she is renowned for playing her part in every process of the shoot: makeup, set, the shoot of course and editing.

Her first published fashion spread occurred at the tender age of seventeen and today she is in hot demand. Interesting enough she is also well known for her exotic appearance which flows into much of her work.
View more of her work here:


Friday, 16 October 2009

The 2009 Nikon-Walkley Press Photo Exhibition – Not to Be Missed!

Tuesday 13 October - Saturday 21 November
Gallery 3 & 4
Australian Centre for Photography
257 Oxford Street
Paddington NSW 2021

The Nikon-Walkley Photographic Awards recognise the invaluable contribution of press photography to the Australian news media. From capturing split-second moments to documenting people, places and communities over time, press photographers chronicle the world around us.

Every year more than 1000 photographs are judged for selection in the Nikon-Walkley Photographic Awards. The exhibition showcases a shortlist of more than 100 works by Australia's best photojournalists. Tragedy and triumph, elation and devastation: this exhibition shows the big moments of the year in news.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

To Digitally Enhance or Not is the Question

Much debate is happening, has happened and will continue to happen on the topic of if images should be digitally enhanced.

The reality is every digital image will need a degree of processing. The same as what we did back in the good old days of the darkroom. However are some going too far? Can we really believe what we are now shown to be real whether it be a scene or an event captured digitally?

Have a look at what’s happening in the media today at this link: http://news.ninemsn.com.au/slideshow_ajax.aspx?sectionid=9016&sectionname=slideshowajax&subsectionid=156088&subsectionname=photoshop

While some of prefer to get most of it right in camera others are using their digital editing skills and taking their images to another level. On the most part there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, however we believe that in today’s digital age one should at least be honest. If you have edited an image - put in a rainbow, a moon, intensified the colour - whatever you have done, just be honest. Don’t allow others to feel incompetent just because you can work an image editing program.

Now before anyone gets truly on their high horses, we are not saying digital editing is bad – it’s not. Many are extremely talented in this area; however digital fraud is now a reality. Some are now relying on their computer skills instead of being a photographer. What is happening to getting it right in camera first?

Spirit of Woodford Photographic Award

Short notice we know, but The Woodford Folk Festival is running a competition as part of its annual festival.

The focus of both the Video and Photographic Awards is to reflect the spirit of a group, artist, performer or person who inspires you and makes our Planet a better place to share.

The Photographic Award is sponsored by the State Library of Queensland and has a prize of $2,000 and is open to subject matter that captures the spirit of the Woodford Folk Festival.

Entries must be received by 25th October 2009

So hop to it!
For more information visit Click here