A DSLR is faster, allows you to do more creative things with your photos by offering infinite control over composition, will have an inherently longer lens, and will take better pictures nine times out of ten, even if you simply use “Auto” mode and let the camera do the rest. If you can’t be bothered, we’ll break it down for you here: Shutter speed is how long the lens stays open to allow light through to the sensor. Now that you have purchased and investigated your camera, it’s time to have fun with some of its strong points, such as depth of field.
You can take some incredible shots of your kids with your DSLR’s scene modes, believe it or not. Sure, I’m no Anne Geddes, but I had fun taking these jumping and running shots with my camera’s kid mode. Photographs taken at night can provide a view of place that look spectacular when the night lights are on. To get the best from your low light shots, there are a few guidelines to follow that you may not typically follow during a daytime shot. As you will be taking photos that require a long exposure time, hand holding the camera to get a sharp image will be virtually impossible, unless you set the ISO to a very high value. If you must take that shot and you don’t have a fully extensible tripod in your back pocket then use some kind of support. If all else fails and you don’t have a tripod, or any support near by and you must get the shot then bump up the ISO. 2) ISO - Keep your ISO at 100 (or the lowest setting on your camera) to reduce colour noise. Compact cameras will always show a lot of colour noise, for many technical reasons which I will not go into here. You want decent sharpness and depth of field (DOF – how much is in focus), especially at night. If you need to take a hand held shot (see Tripod part earlier), then set the aperture to the widest your lens will go and focus on infinity. When the sun just sinks below the horizon, there is about a 30 – 45 minute time line where the light in the sky is changing quite quickly (getting darker). The street lights will start to come on and they haven’t had enough time to warm up to their orange glow!
The speed of the shutter, or how long the camera shutter stays open, should be what you use to get the exposure at night.
Recommending a starting shutter speed will depend on the time of day and the subject matter. Set shutter speed to 1 second if at the beginning of the Blue Hour, 5 seconds if in the middle and 15 seconds if at the end of the Blue Hour. You really do need to practice these shots because what you will find is that when you look at the images on your computer, they will look darker. There are times when you do want to, or need to, shoot at full night when the sky is black. I let the exposure burn in for just over a minute to get the London Eye and buildings as sharp objects, then I started zooming the lens, very slowly and continued zooming till the end. The concept and steps are exactly the same as if you are taking a landscape or architectural photograph.
Try and compose the view so that the light from a nearby street lamp, or other source, is falling on your portrait subject. Increase your ISO so that the shutter stays open for the least amount of time whilst still getting a decent exposure without too much colour noise and the person is relatively sharp. By using your camera as a torch, you can light your subject or even light other foreground objects.
It’s perfectly normal to want to capture a picture of people from different cultures. I’ve encountered individuals and groups of people partaking in rituals and activities that I really wanted to capture.
It may take some time, and a bit or a lot of effort, but the best images will be captured from genuine moments. November 5 By Ruth Soukup 22 Comments The act of sending and receiving Christmas cards might be my favorite of all holiday traditions. Husband and I have always sent photo cards, though some of our early photos were truly cringe-worthy. But while my camera and lens have gotten fancier it really wasn’t that long ago that I was using my Canon Power Shot to capture the shot I was trying to go for. You want the people, not the setting, props, or clothing to be the main attraction in your photo. Learning to shoot in Manual takes a lot of time and practice, but most cameras have a few settings within Auto mode that can make for better shots. If you want to experiment with manual settings, you might also want to try shooting in Aperture Priority mode.
I probably should have put this tip first because it is BY FAR the most important element of getting a great photograph.
Outdoor photographs should be taken out of direct sunlight, which causes nothing but shadows and BAD photos. A merger is an element of the background that is positioned in such a way in a photograph that it looks like it is coming out of the subjects body or head. A lot of kids have trouble looking at the camera, so having a point of focus other than the lens can help. Exposure—I will often brighten my photos just a tad, then increase contrast a little as well.
Subscribing via email is the best way to stay connected to all the fun stuff happening here at Living Well Spending Less, and we invite you to join more than 300,000 subscribers in receiving regular updates! I too wish I lived closer – getting the perfect family shot at the holidays is so hard! Seriously wishing we lived in Florida (and near you!) — you are a fabulous photographer and I have no doubt that you would be able to capture the perfect shot of my kiddos! I would start with just the camera then add accessories as you start to fill more comfortable.
Well you could take a TRIP to Florida to visit me and I’d throw it the photo session as a welcome gift!
Just your blog by accident, i don’t live far from punta gorda and i really appreciate your advice! Well its almost march break and I think that we are all tired of the snow and are looking forward to a warm vacation in the sun. Have fun this March break, exchange your winter coats for your best speedo and bring us your sunsets to produce some beautiful poster art for your walls!
For more photography tips including how to use your DSLR and so much more, check out my new eBook How to Shoot Your Kids! This entry was posted in Photography Tips, Workshops and tagged how to photograph kids ebook, How to Shoot Your Kids Book, how to use your DSLR ebook, photography ebook, photography tips for moms. Sign up to get our latest news and exclusive offers and you’ll get access to our Welcome Guide with details about our family portrait sessions including complete pricing info! They delve into the hobby because they have a new addition to the family, and soon realize that their digital point-and-click cameras are just not good enough.
Sure, these cameras are more expensive, but the quality of the images will be worth it for years to come.
Depth of field is the amount of your image before and beyond the focal point that will appear in focus. For example, my camera’s portrait mode opens the aperture to let as much light in and adjusts to a higher shutter speed to account for that increased exposure. These modes usually put a higher emphasis on shutter speed and slightly boost or saturate background colors while leaving skin tones alone.

The lights from the streets and buildings provide a unique atmosphere and highlight the subject matter.
As long shutter speeds are needed for low light photography, the colour noise will get worse over time. For you guys with compact camera’s, look at investing in a computer program to remove as much of the noise when you download to your computer. You may be lucky and get some colour as the light rays from the sun bounces around in the atmosphere and hits warmed gases and dust particles that scatter the light and create that sunset colour. The longer the shutter is open, the more light that the camera’s sensor will gather over time and therefore the brighter your image will be. What I mean by that is whether you are taking an image during the blue hour or at full night, and whether the scene you are capturing is well lit overall or has very bright areas and dark areas. I will be constantly tweaking the shutter speed (slowing down or speeding up the time the shutter is open).
I check the image on the back of the camera to see if it is bright enough and use a combination of the histogram and highlight alert to tell me how well the exposure is.
Set your camera to Aperture Priority and let the camera meter an average for the entire scene and then use Exposure Compensation on your camera to adjust the shutter speed.
The camera is tripod mounted and I change the shutter speed, aperture and ISO in this transition set to try and get the best exposures. It is possible for the light to change slightly from the first to last shot, especially with moving clouds, so be very FAST!
There is still some interest left in the sky so you can still get away with taking the shot. Over 3 minutes exposure time with lens zooming thrown in to make it a little more interesting. The only difference is you have a person in the foreground of the scene which you also wish to expose well. What you should notice is that the shutter speed would need to stay open for a number of seconds to expose the background well. They should then be a little brighter than your background scene (due to the inverse square law).
Still set the exposure for the background, but now you want the flash to go off at the end of the exposure time to finally light your portrait subject. Think of this as the flash going off at the beginning of the timed exposure (first curtain) or at the end (second curtain). The light from a flash is of a different colour temperature to incandescent or street light. Most smart phones will have an app that causes the screen to glow white and act as a torch. In this series, I’ll explain my philosophy and etiquette for how to take better shots of people you encounter on your travels, whether they are locals in their natural environment or just interesting looking people. So it is quite an interesting sight when I encounter people who do wear these things on my travels. Often times, they’ll even be flattered, but you would never know if you just snapped a shot and walked away without even so much as saying hello.
What makes a portrait special is not just the face or the clothes, but also the environment. As a photographer in such places, you’ll naturally be a foreign element in an otherwise normal daily routine. While I shoot with and LOVE my Nikon D810, on the road, I opt for a smaller mirrorless system that allows me to retrieve and shoot faster as well as more discreetly. A  I just love seeing how my friends & family have changed and grown, and reading what they have been up to throughout the year. A It has always been a dream of mine to learn to take really great photographs and I have spent a lot of time studying, practicing, & improving my photography skills over the last couple of years. A Since not everyone has the desire or the ability to invest in a DSLR, I thought today I would share some simple tips for taking a great Christmas card photo no matter what type of camera you are using. A If you plan to use the self-timer on your camera, be sure you know how you will prop your camera up where you need it.
A Even though the clothes are out of my price range, I love getting wardrobe inspiration from the Crew Cuts (by J Crew) catalog.
A For family portraits, use the portrait setting, which will lower the aperture and give you just a slight amount of blur in the background. A Then set the aperture as low as it will go on your camera and let your camera automatically adjust the other settings.
A Unless you are a professional photographer with professional lighting equipment, you should only ever take your family photographs in natural light. A Pay close attention to odd shadows and streaks of light that can filter through trees or buildings. A Basically you should imagine every picture like it is divided by lines into thirds both vertically and horizontally, creating 9 equal boxes. A  A When you are already busy trying to remember a good lighting & the rule of thirds AND get your family to all cooperate at the same time, mergers are very easy to miss! A Putting a lot of pressure on young kids to pose like models and smile at the right moment will probably result in a whole lot of frustration, more than a few tears, and some really horrible shots.
A Try tying a stuffed animal to the top of your head, or using some sort of squeaker to get really young children’s attention. A That said, cropping can be helpful if you need to zoom in or adjust the subject to follow the rule of thirds. Our newsletter offers a weekly dose of inspiration & encouragement, and many of our readers tell us it is the highlight of their week! I guess flying to Florida for the sole purpose of having our Christmas card photos taken wouldn’t be very frugal, huh? Love the goofy face family photo, can you give me a little tips about the lighting(direction) and the photographer’s position…Thank you so much!
It is easy to just start shooting with little thought to composition because the subject is so overwhelmingly beautiful.
First, your kids are so excited (or sugar-filled) that they won’t hold still for a photo. It’s easier to shoot candid photos of your kid, than it is to get them to pose for you.
My passion is capturing the love and heart-felt connection in every family with beautiful images that will last forever. Not only are these cameras too slow to capture a child’s fleeting expressions, they can’t quite capture the subtle mood of, say, a toddler asleep in a pool of sunlight on the floor. For example, my Nikon D60 has a portrait mode and a kid mode; both are very useful in getting excellent pictures of my little guys. With this mode, you won’t get any movement in camera, and photos will have a narrower depth of field, giving that fuzzy, out-of-focus appearance to the background while keeping your kid’s face sharp. Translation: You can take pictures of your kids running and jumping and freeze the motion, while making the backgrounds more exciting. That way you are not holding down the shutter for long periods, which reduces any shake and subsequent blur.
I change the shutter speed every two minutes or so, typically going slightly longer each time. Remember that because most of the scene will be dark, the camera will over expose so dial down by 1 stop. No one can stay perfectly still for even a second so they will appear slightly blurred as they try to stay still. When the flash goes off at the beginning of the timed exposure the camera will still be gathering picture information of the person after the flash fired.

I sometimes try to incorporate that into the shot to give a better idea of who the person is. One of the sailors didn’t speak any English so he would just smile or laugh whenever I tried to talk to him.
To change this, you have to allow people to get used to you being around and either understand or feel safe enough with your capturing their lives. Imagine how intimidating it might be to have a giant DSLR with a large 70-200 zoom lens mounted on staring you right in the face. A It reminds me that even in the midst of all this busyness, even when we don’t always have a chance to catch up, we are still connected. A Put some thought into what you will wear, whether you want to use props or not, where shot will be taken, and what sort of poses you will use.
A If you plan to ask a (non-photographer) friend or family member to take the shot for you, be sure to talk to them about your vision and share these tips so that you can work together to get a shot you love. A The Rule of Thirds says that your subject should not be in that center box, but along one of the lines, or preferably on one of the points because pictures that are slightly off-center are more interesting and visually appealing than those that are centered. A Always try to take a second glance at the background before you shoot to make sure there isn’t something in the background that might look odd in the photograph.
Here I have used a flash to add a little fill, so they do not become a silloette in front a bright sun. To get some good posed photos have them sit on your front porch steps or curb and show you their goodie bags! Most DSLR cameras have a night portrait mode, it will usually be a face with a crescent moon or star next to it.
Instead, flashes reflect off this and that, shadows appear that never existed before, and skin tones look washed out, blown out, or altogether unnatural. I love to take photos of kids with shallow depth of field, making the child’s face perfectly in focus while blurring the background. This will result in some additional image information of the person appearing on top of the person.
I’ve walked through the bazaars in Morocco and seen tourists standing from afar and snapping photos of the Moroccans going about their day. Hand signals and simple gestures like a smile can bridge a gap between two strangers and two cultures just as easily. Contrary to what I said earlier about asking, sometimes a photographer needs to just capture a scene as it happens.
In 2014, I traveled with the Sony NEX-6, which has now since been replaced by the Sony A6000.
A The best time of day for outdoor photos at the beach or any place without a lot of shade is the hour after sunrise or the hour before sunset. Turn your flash off, set your camera to it’s widest aperture and a high ISO setting (get a copy of my eBook to learn how!) and capture the light that is there. Here are some helpful hints on taking frame-worthy kid pictures, every time you pull out your camera. This is especially helpful when you are, say, in a nursery full of toys that can distract from your photo. Although you could shoot very early in the morning when the sun is just about to come over the horizon. It will be trial and error to take a shot, check if the subject is bright enough, if not then change the exposure compensation and quickly take again.
My advice is always colour balance your subject correctly and let the background turn orange.
Once the ice is broken, you can just as easily ask to take the same shot, but with the approval and acknowledgement of your subject. A The flashes on most cameras will immediately ruin an otherwise nice shot, adding harsh lighting, shadows, & red-eye. The staff will be able to inform you of the direction of the sunset and even inform you of where the best shots can be found.
You know you’ll just get that fake grin, so instead ask them questions to draw out that real smile, “How much candy are you going to get tonight? If you are one of these people who think that “F-stop” is a dirty expression and not a measure of how open or closed the aperture on a camera is, it’s time to reconsider. When the flash goes off at the end of the timed exposure, any low light image information that the camera has gathered of the portrait subject will be overwritten (somewhat) by the brighter person that was illuminated by the flash at the end.
An alternative is to use a colour balance gel for your flash so that the light from the flash is the same temperature as your background.
I’ll flip the scenario around for a second and ask if you’d like it if a group of tourists from some tribe in Africa came around to your office and started taking photos of you sitting at your desk typing and then oohing and aahing in a foreign language without ever saying a word to you? If you know me, you will know that this is highly uncharacteristic as I’ve been kicked out of places for bargaining way too low. On the “flash exposure compensation control” you can either over exposure it ”+” or underexpose it “-“, you should set it at “-“ by ? to ? a stop. You might actually figure out what all those buttons and knobs do, and some manuals even help you learn the very basics, like the difference between shutter speed and F-stops, and what ISO means. While trekking in Nepal, I stopped in a village where a group of children were running around and playing with each other. There was just something honest and genuine about him and his prices were fair to begin with. I asked to tag along and he acquiesced, even though I think this was supposed to be his break. Now that you know where the sun is setting, start to look for interesting features that may make nice silhouettes in front of the sunset: umbrellas, rocks, pergolas, lighthouses……and so on. After we had a chat about his craft, I wanted to take a portrait of this man who out-negotiated me without even trying. The less you have to worry about gear and which lens to keep mounted, the more you can shoot. Sunsets are easily captured in the typical way but need some other features to make it interesting.
For more fun with depth of field, you can purchase an even longer zoom, such as a 55-300mm lens, to further decrease the depth of field. He immediately carried his little boy up and I watched his posed smile transform into a bigger natural smile when he looked at his son.
Maybe it was the cigarette, but he looked lost in thought and didn’t even really notice my presence anymore.
Ever wonder how some photographs have this incredibly huge sun, the photographer is using a large telephoto lens.
These telephoto lenses are also wonderful for snapping very candid photos of your kids, who often go into turtle mode or mug for the camera if they know they are being photographed. As children often are, they were curious and gathered around this strange guy and his camera. I then turned the camera onto myself and gestured for the little girl to push the shutter button. They all turned out to be some of my favorite images captured during this 14 day hike and ones that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to capture if I just tried to take them from a distance.

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