Today’s Photo Tip Of The Week is part three of a five tip series. The series is spread out over a five-week period where I take you on an alphabetical journey to cover a magnitude of photographic instruction as I explore numerous photo concepts from A-Z. Check the two previous week’s tips that cover letters A to E and F to J for lots of great info. While every letter of the alphabet isn’t covered, many key photo topics will be explored based on the letter with which they start. Enjoy the journey down the alphabetical trail to garner photo knowledge and wisdom.
K is for Keystone: Wide-angle lenses work wonderfully when they’re perpendicular to a subject. Lines on the edges tend to stay straight and no distortion occurs. But, as soon as the lens is pointed up or down, even slightly, an effect known as keystoning occurs. It happens when you photograph buildings and tilt the camera up. Since the building and camera are now at different angles, the top of the building appears to lean backward. To correct the distortion, there are a few possible solutions: 1) move farther away from your subject; 2) if possible, don’t tilt the camera; 3) try to get to a higher location to photograph the building so the camera doesn’t have to be tilted. If any of the three possible solutions can’t be utilized, use software to eliminate keystoning, but tradeoffs do occur if you go that route.
L is for Light: This one is really easy for me. My business slogan is, “It’s All About The Light.” To me, light is the single most important element that dictates the success of a photo. I’d rather photograph a mundane subject in amazing light than an amazing subject in poor light. It’s imperative you learn how to read the light that falls on your subject. Is it harsh and cool or soft and warm? Is it too contrasty or perfect for the situation? Is it coming from the back, front or side? Can it be modified to make it look better? From what overhead angle does it illuminate your subject? The best nature and travel photos are made at sunrise and sunset. The quality of light at those times of day is unsurpassed. Learn what types of light provide the best illumination to photograph the subjects you enjoy and make photos when the subject and light connect with each other.
M is for Mastery: Master the technical aspects of photography and take charge of every picture you make. Graduate from Program or Auto modes. Learn how to use aperture or shutter priority mode to control depth of field, how much action is stopped or exaggerated, and how to obtain the best possible exposure. Auto and Program provide a proper exposure, but can’t guarantee the effect you want to portray. Don’t let the camera make the choice—take charge!
N is for Noise: Noise increases commensurate with the ISO and length of the exposure. The higher the ISO, the more digital noise. Digital noise looks like film grain associated with high ISO film back in the day. Noise can be suppressed with software, but to obtain the best possible file, use the lowest possible ISO that allows you to obtain the desired effect. If light levels decrease, the ISO has to be raised, but learn the limitations of your camera. Noise can also be introduced in long exposures. Exposures of eight seconds or longer is where it starts. Set your camera to long exposure noise reduction to lessen the negative effect. It does require in camera processing time, but the added wait is worth it. If the exposure is 15 seconds, it takes 15 seconds for the file to process, so rapid fire isn’t an option.
O is for Open: Keep an Open mind when you go out to shoot. This allows you to see things you may otherwise Overlook. Quite often a photographer heads into the field with a predetermined image he or she wants. Regardless of what it is, if that subject dominates thought patterns, other great images may go unnoticed. Look at every subject with wide-angle eyes AND telephoto eyes— don’t overlook the picture within the picture. Don’t just look straight ahead. Look to your left, right, up high, down low and every once in awhile, turn around to see how the light falls on the subjects behind you. An Open mind combined with an Open eye nets wonderful images.
Visit www.russburdenphotography.com for information about his nature photography tours and safari to Tanzania.