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 Week Seven ‘Under’

Sorry for the long absence from blogging. I have been editing this website and hope you like the changes. The blog is now in a different place, and you can always access it through the Menu.

‘Under’

Here is my photo for week seven of the photo challenge for week seven with the subject ‘Under’.
For this challenge I chose two dyed eggs. I dyed both years ago and the small bottom one is a chicken egg for size comparison. I placed it under the large egg for this challenge picture. The large dyed egg has a moon, the sun and a star on it. I chose the moon side.

These dyed eggs such as the one on the bottom are also called psanka, which means to write or scribe. These eggs are Ukrainian Easter eggs. I learned how to do them from a friend, who is very talented in doing them. She taught me this years ago and I haven’t dyed one in years also, but still keep the ones I have done and the tools to do them.

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 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.

 

 

 

Photo Challenge Picture Week 4 – Window

This weeks photo challenge was the subject “Window“.

This Weeks Challenge.

I had a hard time finding the right setting for a window picture. The challenge seemed to be simple, but was less easy than I thought it would be.

The right moment came eventually. I was playing with Raven, my puppy, and Ice, my grown dog, when something outside startled Ice. He ran to the window as he usually does and stuck his head through the curtains to look outside.  That’s when I took the picture. It was rather spontaneous. And taken with my phone camera.

Phone Cameras.

Phone cameras are great for taking snap shots like this. They are usually close by and don’t require any settings other than to push the release button.

Though there are plenty of ways to improve your photography even with a phone camera.

I posted some tips and tricks this past Tuesday about it. Head over there and read it if you haven’t yet: https://anikamcfarland.com/phone-photography/

I have a favorite app that I am using, called snapseed. It’s a fun and easy way to make edits to your phone photos.

The 52 Week Photo Challenge.

If you don’t know which photo challenge I am talking about, you can read more about it here: https://anikamcfarland.com/photo-challenge/

I also have a Facebook Group you can join, if you want to have support with your photos: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1701572876529588/

Your Turn:

Now it’s your turn. What did your photos look like of the photo challenge? I would love to see them!

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.

52 Week Photo Challenge

Today I want to introduce the 52 week photo challenge.

So what is that? The photo challenge is to take pictures every week on a given subject. This helps practice photography, keep engaged and last but not least to have fun! I don’t know about you, but I need the practice. This way you don’t even have to come up with a subject for an entire year.

I will be participating here every week as well and post my pictures, tips and tricks on how to get the most out of this challenge. I also set up a Facebook group to help you along and give you feedback. Click here to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1701572876529588/

 

1. New Years Resolution

Post pictures of what conveys your number one new years resolution best.

2. Snow/Cold

Any picture of frozen leaves, snow pictures, snowflakes, ice etc.

3. Dessert

What is your favorite guilty pleasure treat? Lets see it.

4. Window

This picture must contain a window of any kind.

5. Love

What is love to you? What or whom do you love? Hearts are welcome, too.

6. Family

Pictures of your family. Pets count, too.

7. Emotion

Show us the tears, the laughter. Any emotion clearly recognizable.

8. Under

Anything under something.

9. Bokeh

As described in an online dictionary: “the visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image”. Meaning background blur.

10. Self

Give us your favorite selfie.

11. Sleepy

Sleepy person, sleepy pet, sleepy animal. Yawning counts, too.

12. Numbers

Anything that shows numbers clearly, written and shown.

13. Spring

Your favorite spring photo. What is spring to you?

14. Flowers

Flowers of any kind.

15. Musical Instrument

Any musical instrument.

16. Silhouette

A silhouette.

17. Color

Pick a single color. Then photograph something in that color only.

18. Water

Water of any kind. Not frozen.

19. Framed

Use an empty picture frame and take a picture of something behind it.

20. Low Key

Dark Color background, the subject only lit sparingly.

21. Summer

What represents summer the best?

22. Shadow

A shadow with clearly recognizable features of what it’s of.

23. Sunrise/Sunset

A sunrise or a sunset.

24. Simplicity

Simplify. Not a bunch of things in the photo, but one or a few.

25. Reflection

A reflection of something.

26. Artificial Light

Anything photographed with artificial light.

27. Handmade

Show us something handmade. Or somebody creating something handmade.

28. Landscape

A landscape photo.

29. Negative Space

Negative space is the area in a photo that surrounds your main subject.

30. Bugs-Eye-View

Get low to the ground and show us a photo from that perspective.

31. Close-Up

A close-up or macro photo.

32. Black & White

Anything in true black and white. No sepia.

33. Just For Fun

What do you do just for fun? Not necessarily a hobby.

34. Change

What is change to you?

35. Hobby

Your favorite hobby.

36. Rules of Thirds

Use the rules of thirds in your composition.

37. Food

Any food.

38. Letters

Recognizable letters.

39. Fall

Show us your best picture of this season.

40. Leading Lines

Show us a picture of a leading lines composition.

41. Pumpkins

Any kind of pumpkin.

42. Spooky

Something spooky.

43. Morning Routine

What’s your morning routine?

44. A Snapshot

Candid photo. Unedited.

45. From Above

Anything with a high vantage point.

46. A portrait

Get permission if you want to post. But take a portrait of somebody.

47. Detail

A detail of something larger.

48. Patterns

Clearly seen patterns.

49. Holidays

What do you celebrate this season?

50. Centered

Anything centered in the picture.

51. Movement

Anything with a lot of movement shown.

52. Long Exposure

Use a night photo with long exposure.

This is it. You’ve made it all the way through to the end! Congratulations!

If you want to join the photo challenge Facebook group click here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1701572876529588/

 

 

 

Using Natural Light in Photography in 8 Simple Steps

Today I am exploring how to use natural light in photography. I compiled eight simple steps to help guide you through the process.

Working with natural light in photography is very rewarding, if you know a few things on how to use it efficiently. Let’s face it. Not everybody has a professional photo studio, thus natural lighting is the most accessible solution to great photos.

There is a way to do it and there are some things you should avoid. Pretty simple, once you get the hang of it.

Meet Raven. I took this photo indoors close to large windows and with good natural light.

I have done my share of mistakes. Even recently while shooting pictures for this website. Until I started realizing what I did. I will have to wait for warmer weather for a re-shoot. Since right now we are in a windchill advisory and Tuesday morning is supposed to be -30 F with the windchill….way to cold for an outdoor shoot. But natural light is not only outside. There is plenty of it right inside your home. You can use these tips with people or like me with dogs or other pets. I just adore the newest addition of the family, Raven. She’s now 10 weeks old and growing like a weed.

1. Start with simple lighting situations

Don’t over-complicate things. Focus on only one lighting situation. Have one source of light and position the subject to face the light. Be almost in between the light and your subject.

2. For outdoor shoots, shoot in open shade

Open shade is the shade you get from buildings and structures. Or shoot on an overcast day. Avoid direct sunlight, as it casts harsh shadows. And if you shoot photos of people they will squint being in the direct sun.

3. Use catchlights

Catchlights are the reflections of the light in your subjects eyes. They give the eyes this little bit of sparkle.

4. Avoid dappled shade

Dappled shade is the shade you get underneath a tree, where spots of light come through. These turn often into blown highlights, where some parts of the picture are too light.

5. Avoid several different light sources

The reason for avoiding these, is that you can only set one color temperature or white balance at your camera, not several. If you use several different light sources, like natural light and a lamp then you get different color temperatures, which result in a color cast on the photo.

6. Use the golden hour

The golden hour is the period shortly after sunrise or before sunset, when the light is soft and angled.

7. Choose a low aperture indoors

Set your f-stop or aperture low. It will do two things: It helps you use all the light available indoors and it gives you a shallow depth of field, where your subject is in focus and the background blurry.

8. Use a reflector

Use a reflector to bounce natural light back on your subject. Thus avoiding shadows that are too deep.

 

These are simple tips that you can use anywhere you have natural light. Even inside your home. Just get close to your windows and turn off your lights and you’ll see what I mean.

Share below your pictures of using natural light.