Flowers in my garden

Flowers in my garden are blooming right now. They are truly beautiful. I haven’t picked up my camera in a few weeks. It was so nice out this morning. Cool but with only a light breeze. The perfect time to take some macro shots of my flowers. So I did. I almost forgot how much fun it is to just take photos of something so simple. It’s nothing fancy. But I know in winter I will be able to look at those photos and enjoy the bloom of those flowers and remember a late summer day. Sometimes all it takes is some action.

What creative thing did you do lately?

Photo Challenge 10 – Self

This weeks photo challenge 10 is on the topic “self”.

Self

For me that’s rather tough. I am more critical of photos of myself than others. I don’t know how you are, but that’s how I am. That’s why it’s a good idea to take a lot of photos, instead of just one.

Try different angles and settings.

Props

Try different props, like scarfs and hats. I hardly ever wear hats. But I tried several different ones with caps, hats and scarfs and without any of that. Chances are that you’ll find one that you really like.

Lighting

Make sure you have good lighting. Sit besides a window for instance. Choose one that’s not in the sun, but rather a north facing one, than a south facing one. The direct sunlight can be really harsh. Which means that you have really deep shadows. And most likely you will be squinting, and that does not look good at all.

Post Editing

If you have Lightroom or Photoshop, go ahead and try some edits. Maybe you’ll find one that is really good and it’s good practice. I did some edits in Lightroom for this photo. I tried black and white also, but didn’t like it as much as the one you see above.

Photo Challenge

I created the 52 week photo challenge at the beginning of the year. Each week there is a different topic and a different photo to be taken for practice. You can read more about the photo challenge here: https://anikamcfarland.com/photo-challenge/

Facebook Group

For all of you who want to join in the fun and need some guidance and/or want to share your pictures, I set up a Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1701572876529588/

Phone Photography

I made a blog post about how to take better pictures just with your phone. Go check it out right here: https://anikamcfarland.com/phone-photography/

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn. Show me your pictures. It doesn’t matter where in the challenge you are: Week one, or week ten. Just post some pictures or join the Facebook group.

 

 

Photo Challenge Picture 5 & 6 – Love & Family

Since I did not post last week I combined pictures 5 & 6 of the photo challenge with the topics “Love” and “Family”.

I took this picture of my dogs Ice and Raven playing with my phone and edited it with Snapseed. They are what I love and they are family. And clearly they love each other, too. Ice is a little ruffled from playing. I am glad I got at least one picture where Raven wasn’t all blurry. She’s has high puppy energy and loves to go fast. She’s now seventeen weeks old. We got both of our pooches at the local humane society.

Photo Challenge.

I created the 52 week photo challenge at the beginning of the year. Each week there is a different topic and a different photo to be taken. You can read more about the photo challenge here: https://anikamcfarland.com/photo-challenge/

Facebook group.

For all of you who want to join in the fun and need some guidance and/or want to share your pictures, I set up a Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1701572876529588/

Phone photography.

I just recently posted about how to take better pictures just with your phone. Go check it out right here: https://anikamcfarland.com/phone-photography/

Your turn.

Now it’s your turn. Show me your pictures. It doesn’t matter where in the challenge you are: Week one, or week six. Just post some pictures or join the Facebook group.

 

Light Box – What It Is and When you need One

Have you heard of a light box yet? If you want to take great product photos then this post is for you.

A light box or light tent is a box with translucent sides that diffuse the light. It produces even lighting against a simple, solid background. You can purchase one or you can built one yourself.

Why use a light box?

Without one you can get unwanted and harsh shadows, uneven lighting and overexposed fronts. Indoor lighting without it often does not offer enough light for product photography.

Standard Setup.

The standard setup is as follows:

  • Place your light box on a table.
  • Place your lamps on either side of it, opposite of each other.
  • Put your backdrop in a gentle curve so there is no harsh line.
  • Place your subject directly into the center of your light box.
  • Use a tripod for you camera.

Variations in Setup.

If you are looking for different results you can also vary your setup:

For more shadows one one side, just use one lamp instead of two. This can give you more depth and dimension if you are looking for that.

If you want to eliminate any shadow you can add a third light on top. When you are using a white background this makes it really crisp.

Backdrops

Most purchased light boxes come with several colors of backdrops and at least two lamps. I purchased mine and it came also with a small tripod in addition to three backdrops and the lamps. There are a lot of companies who produce them. If you do want to make your own, you can do that with a simple cardboard box and translucent paper.

Product photos.

With product photography I am talking about anything that you need to take great photos of for the web, catalogs and posts. A light box will simply help you do that consistently and reliably. It’s easy to use and produces great results.

Your turn.

Show me photos of yours that you took with the help of a light box.

RAW vs JPEG What is What and What to Use

You probably heard the discussion about RAW vs JPEG format when it comes to photographing with a digital SLR camera.

But do you really know what one is versus the other and when it makes sense to shoot in one format or the other?

I know before I got my digital camera I did not know anything about RAW. I’ve never heard it before. I heard and used plenty of JPEG formats before. So initially that’s what I set me camera to use by default. When I got more advanced I realized that JPEG had it’s limitations, so I switched to RAW. And I did have the programs that it takes to manipulate those files now, where I did not have that before.

RAW

So what is RAW exactly? It’s not an image file and it does require special software to manipulate. Typically the camera manufacturers have each their own file extension and format.

RAW records at least 8 bits per color, oftentimes more depending on your DSLR. It records an uncompressed file, thus the file size is fairly large. It has a high dynamic range, which means that it displays highlights and shadows.

RAW files need to be processed before they can be shared or printed. They preserve all of the data the DSLR can record.

JPEG

JPEG other than RAW is a standard file format and not proprietary. It’s readable by most programs on the market.

JPEG records exactly 8 bits per color. It’s a compressed file, thus smaller in size. It has a lower dynamic range than RAW files but is higher in contrast when recorded.

These files can be immediately shared or printed and are able to be manipulated. They loose some color and resolution as part of the process of creating a JPEG.

JPEGs use only about 1/4 of the data the camera captures.

Pros for RAW:

  • Quality.
  • Get all what your DSLR can offer.
  • Get control of the creation of the image.

Pros for JPEG:

  • Immediately shareable and printable.
  • Smaller file size.

Your Choice

You might not have to make a choice on whether to choose RAW vs JPEG. Since most DSLRs can record both simultaneously. And storage should not be an issue nowadays with cards being as inexpensive as they are. But if you do want to do one over the other consider why you bought your DSLR. Do you want to get the most out of it? Then my preference would be RAW.

Share your preference below.

 

 

 

Improve your Phone Photography in 8 Simple Steps

Let’s face it. Not everyone has a digital SLR camera and if they are like me if they have one, they don’t have it with them 24/7.

But I do have a phone with a camera. And I have that with me all the time. I love to use it to capture pictures of my puppy Raven. Though I do break out my DSLR from time to time, I have my phone always there and get really cute, spontaneous pictures that way.

Phone cameras are great for capturing every day life. They are not so good with specialized photography. That’s where DSLR cameras have their place. But there are ways to improve your photography with a phone camera nevertheless.

1. Keep the composition simple.

I know I have said it before, but it really is a great and easy way to improve your photos. Keep them simple. If you’re new to photography you most likely try to over-complicate your shots. Pick one subject and stick to it.

2. Change the angle.

I know it sounds funny, but just changing the angle that you’re photographing things with can give a new perspective to everyday situations. Try a high or low angle.

3. Show depth.

You can show depth in your photos through leading lines like pathways or walkways. Or use something interesting in the foreground to frame your subject.

4. Get closer.

If you’re struggling to find things to photograph, try to get closer to everyday things and shoot close-ups or details.

5. Photograph reflections.

Try taking pictures of reflections, in puddles, lakes or windows.

6. Use both hands.

When using your phone for taking photos use both hands. Hold it with your non dominant hand and release the shutter with your dominant one. Do that gently. You will get less blur in your pictures due to shaking.

7. Don’t use the digital zoom.

Don’t use the digital zoom, because it will make every movement of your phone so much more prominent, that you get blurry pictures a lot more often that way.

8. Look for scale.

Look for people or things that will give your photos a sense of scale.

 

These are simple ways to improve your phone photography. I would love to see some of your photos taken with your phone! Comment below.

 

 

Photo Challenge Picture Week 3 – Dessert

Here is my photo challenge picture number 3 for the 52 week photo challenge with the subject “Dessert”.

A Celebration.

My husband just celebrated his birthday and wanted an ice cream cake. So I went out and bought him this one. And took the great opportunity to take photos of it. Certainly we ate a slice right after I got done taking photos, since my husband waited patiently for me.

The Challenge.

The challenge that I faced was that it was close to dinner time and the natural light was getting low. To help with the light I opened all the blinds and curtains and let in as much light as I could. Then I adjusted the white balance to combat the tint of the evening light. Sometimes you might want that golden light, but here it would have been too yellow. I use Kelvin in my camera to adjust the white balance, but yours might have different settings.

More Information.

You can read more about white balance in photography here: https://anikamcfarland.com/white-balance/

If you want to know more about what the photo challenge is about read about it here: https://anikamcfarland.com/photo-challenge/

And if you want to participate and want some extra support you can join my Facebook group here: Anika’s 52 week photo challenge

Now it’s your turn: Comment below with your approach to week 3 “Dessert”. I’m looking forward to seeing your photos!

 

Catch Lights in Photography in 5 Simple Steps

Catch lights in portrait photography bring depth into portraits.

A definition.

What is a catch light? Wikipedia defines it as follows: “A catch light may be an artifact or lighting method, or have been purposely engineered to add a glint or “spark” to a subjects eye during photography”

If you look at the photo of Ice, my dog, he has a catch light in his eyes. This gives the photograph more depth and him a sparkle in his eyes.

Why catch lights?

Catch lights create dimension and depth in portraits. Without it the portraits can seem dull and lifeless. It helps to make the subject feel alive.

1. How to create catch lights.

In natural light position your subject at an 45 degree angle facing the light. If you are indoors that can be a window or a door for instance.

Outside in open shade use reflectors, like a small silver one placed in the lap of your subject to bounce the light into the eyes.

To read more about natural light in photography go here: https://anikamcfarland.com/natural-light/

2. Catch lights and size.

The closer your subject is to the light source, the larger is the sparkle or light in their eyes. The size and shape of them vary depending on your light source also.

3. Position of catch lights.

Make sure the catch lights are in the same position in both eyes. The best position seems to be at a 10 o’clock or 12 o’clock position.

4. Study and practice.

Study other photographers portraits in relation to the light in the eyes and see what resonates most with you. And then go out and practice, practice, practice.

5. Post processing.

If you dislike the catch lights, but you love the portrait you can fix this easily in programs like Photoshop.

 

Now it’s your turn: Practice capturing the sparkle in your subjects eyes and comment below.

 

 

Photo Challenge Picture Two – Snow-Cold

Here is my photo challenge picture number two – snow-cold. A red Valentines heart in the snow. To melt your heart.

The Details

It had just snowed when I took this photo. The day was right after the snowstorm last week. Valentines Day is close and I wanted to show something that is in relation to that. That’s why I chose to make a red heart in the snow. Some red food coloring mixed into some water is how I created the red heart. With one dog and a puppy in the house it was hard to find pristine snow, so I chose the table outside. Sometimes even that one has paw prints on it. It’s pretty low to the ground and the dogs love to eat snow off it.

Adjustments

I have to admit, I took it fairly quickly and forgot to adjust my white balance. The photo originally turned out really blue due to that. I fixed it in my photo editing software. It taught me to check my settings, before I venture out into the cold. If you want to know more about this setting, read more about white balance here: https://anikamcfarland.com/white-balance/

Simplicity

I wanted to keep with this weeks topic: Simplicity in photo composition. You can read more about it in this Tuesday’s blog post.

Photo Challenge

If you missed the photo challenge you can read up on it here: https://anikamcfarland.com/photo-challenge/

And if you want to join my photo challenge Facebook page for added support you can join it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1701572876529588/

Your Photos

Now it is your turn: What did you come up with for the second week of this photo challenge with the subject: Snow-Cold? Show me in the comments below. What were your challenges? How about your wins? What did you need help with?

 

Keep It Simple – Easy Composition for Photography

Do you ever try to capture too much in your photographs and not keep it simple?

Keeping it simple is harder than it seems. The camera captures everything, while we see things selectively. When you look at your photo, how many times did you say to yourself: I did not see that when I took this picture?

Reflection of my images

Recently I started to look at my own photographs and realized that I am guilty of the same. Though nice, a lot of my photos seem to be cluttered. The eye bounces around in the photos with nothing to hold it where it needs to be. Or it’s nice, but there are distracting things in the background that I did not see when I took the photo. Like light poles at car shows, that seem to grow out of the cars and the like.

How it works

I often tried to show too much in my photos. Sometimes to show the ‘complete image’, sometimes unintended as I said above. The truth is, that you can show too much in your image. And less is often more.

Pick your subject

The simplest way to combat this is to pick your subject in the scene. What is your main focus?

Frame your shot

Once you decided what you want to show in your picture, try to find a viewpoint with the least amount of background distractions as possible. Indoors it can be as simple as picking up right behind what you want to photograph. That doesn’t mean that your house has to be spotless. Just remove anything that does not have something to do with your photo and that you don’t want to show.

Details

Another way to simplify an image is to photograph details vs the entire scene. Think of a vacation spot, for instance a beach. Let’s say you want to show where you have been and why it has been so special. If you just take a picture of the entire scene, you most likely get a lot of other people in the photo that you did not want to show. The other sunbathers that are there are not very likely why it was so special to you – right?

But what about that beautiful umbrella, that you saw? The footprints in the sand? Some seashells, or driftwood? If you just take photos of that you will have a more powerful image.

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn: What did you want to show in your photos and what did you end up showing instead? What are your wins? Comment below.