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Lee's Camera Center - Photographic Tip Archive
GENERAL tips | COMPOSTION | SPRING tips | SUMMER tips | FALL tips | WINTER tips

GENERAL Photography TIPS

Film choice
A good film choice is one of the most important ingredients to a great photo. Be sure to take advantage of all the films available. Whether it’s a portrait, sporting event or just everyday shots around the house, there is a film for every situation.

Tripods
Tripods are one of the most valuable tools in photography. They keep our cameras steady for crisp, clear photos. They also help composition by allowing us to frame our subject’s precisely. So remember to take your tripod along when you head out to take your award winning photos or movies.

Filters
Filters come in a few shapes and many sizes, and produce an astounding number of effects. They can soften images, multiply them, color them, lighten them, darken them and stretch them. The results can be obvious or subtle.

Flash
The use of a flash does not always have to be at nighttime. Flash can also be used during the daytime as well. Where shadow areas plague your subject, flash can help. The flash will fill in the shadow areas! Close-up work without a macro lens.

Black & White
Use Black and White film to give your pictures a more creative feel. Try Black and White film with Kids, Animals, Textures, and in different lighting situations.

Digital Cameras
Use the biggest resolution as possible. BIGGER is better!

Say goodbye to red eye. How does red eye happen?

A quick biology lesson photo courtesy R. Schiller
Red eyes are worst in dark rooms. The pupils of your eyes get bigger and smaller depending on the amount of light. Lots of light makes them smaller. Low light makes pupils bigger. When you use the flash on your camera, the light reflects off the blood vessels inside the eye. That’s where the red comes from.

Quick tips There are things you can do stop red eye. Some work better than others, but try them to find which works best for you.

• Use the camera’s “red-eye reduction” feature. It’s the one that has a circle-slash over an eyeball. It creates quick bursts of light that make the pupil get smaller before the main flash goes off. This is often a big help, but it doesn't remove red eye…it just makes it less obvious. Be careful: in some cameras, using this option can slow down the camera’s ability to take the picture when you want it.

• Turn on a light or move to a brighter area. The pupils become smaller and red-eye is less noticeable.

• Have the person look away from the lens, either above the camera or to the side opposite the flash. If you have a camera without the red-eye feature, consider holding the camera straight up and down (vertically) in a way that places the flash closer to your feet than to your hair. The puts the flash at a lower angle and makes red-eye go away.

Sometimes, even trying all of these things, a photo will still have red eye. If that is the case talk to Our Digital Department!

Airport x-ray Security
Don’t forget to put your film in a high quality, lead-lined film shield bag when traveling by air. Nobody can question the validity of the heightened security measures being implemented at our nation’s airports. However, it is necessary to protect your film from the harmful effects of X-ray radiation. A good quality film shield bag is a relatively inexpensive measure we can take to protect our film.

Awesome Fireworks Pictures
For Fireworks, use a long shutter speed and 400 speed film. Also use an f-stop around f.8. This will give you great fireworks photos!


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COMPOSTION

Composition Good composition combines the artistic with the technical to create attention-grabbing photos. Clarity and simplicity are the keys to good composition. Try not to clutter you subject with irrelevant objects. Remember before you take your shot look at the whole picture, not just the subject.

Point of Viewphoto courtesy R. Schiller
Alter your point of view to add energy to your photos. Point your camera up to give objects a towering , looming presence (see image at left). Point your camera down to create a sense of diminished significance.

Add Depth
Depth is an important quality of good photographs. We want the viewer to think that they're not looking at a flat picture, but through a window, into a three-dimensional world. Add pointers to assist the eye. If your subject is a distant mountain, add a person or a tree in the foreground. A wide angle lens can exaggerate this perspective.

Get Closer
Many photographers make the mistake of not getting close enough to their subjects. Take one of your own photographs and draw a circle in the middle of it. Often you’ll find that’s where the real picture is. The rest of the frame is just clutter. To get a cleaner shot, zoom in or move closer.

Use a telephoto zoom lens
Zoom to its most telephoto position and stand back a little. This will allow you to crop out allot of the surroundings you don't want.

 

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SPRING Photographic TIPS

spring photo courtesy R. SchillerOne of the coolest things about spring is that you really don’t have to spend hours looking for that perfect shot. Just sit back and relax. Let those perfect shots come to you.

Every direction you turn there are new and exciting things all around to photograph. A huge part of photography is realizing that some of the best shots are those focused on things as simple as a fresh blade of grass or a backyard fence surrounded by new growth!

Take some time to see the world around you through the viewfinder of your camera. You will spot things that people walk right past every day, without even thinking. You might find that you can get quite a few incredible pictures just by wandering around your yard while enjoying a beautiful spring day!

Spring-CleaningSpring-Cleaning
Spring is the season of rebirth and renewal—hence, the ritual of spring cleaning. It's also a season of contrasts: there's still snow in the high elevations, while the lower regions come into bloom; and there are hot summery spells and cold wintry spells interspersed with milder days. So in most areas, you can shoot "winter" shots and "summer" shots in the spring. But the season's arrival does bring along with it some unique photo opportunities, including migrating birds, blooming wildflowers, flowing creeks, and lots of green stuff.

In keeping with the spring-cleaning concept, this is a great time to check out your photo gear. Replace (or recharge) the batteries in your camera and flash-unit. Make sure you know where everything is (don't laugh: not-recently used odd pieces of photo gear have a habit of migrating to parts unknown over the winter months). Make sure you have an ample supply of your favorite film(s), or memory cards for a digital camera. Clean your lens(es), and check that everything works. Then you're ready to set out on spring photo excursions.

Watch for greenery, new flowers, flowing water and birds . Enjoy the sights and sounds and fresh air!

photo courtesy R. Schiller Spring Flowers
The first thing to pop into many people's heads when they think about the spring season is flowers. Early-morning and late-afternoon sunlight can add life and drama to flowers, and make those translucent backlit shots easy, but the harsh contrast of midday sun is best avoided. A thin overcast will nicely soften the light, allowing you to shoot pleasant flower pictures any time of day .Translucent subjects like flowers come alive in low-angle early-morning sunlight. Shooting at close range with a telephoto lens at its widest aperture throws the background completely out of focus, directing the viewer's attention to the flower subject.

SUMMER Photographic TIPS

summer photoPhotography on the Beach

Probably the Number One subject on a beach is people. People at rest. People at play. People swimming. People sunning. People sleeping. The beach is a powerful backdrop, filled with activity and distraction. To avoid distracting from your subject(s), keep your subject large and up front in your frame.

When you're photographing people on the beach, the biggest danger is squinting. How can you avoid this? Try moving your subject into the shade - for example, the shade of an umbrella. Perhaps, wait till a cloud obscures the direct sun. Or turn your subject so that the sun is behind him or her, and use fill flash to light the face. In other words, watch out for squinting and take steps to avoid it!

In beach scenes of people, the second biggest danger is distraction. Here's where simplification comes in. Pay close attention to the background. It's easy to overlook distracting things when you're surrounded by so many interesting sights. Look carefully. If you see distracting elements - trash cans, coolers, misplaced towels, etc. - try to either remove them or change your angle to eliminate them from view.

Summer Tip
Summer is one of the most beautiful and one of the most challenging times to take outdoor portraits.To minimize the harsh shadows created by direct sunlight, consider using a flash to "fill" the shadow areas of your subject. While it may seem funny to use a flash on a bright sunny day, it will illuminate your subject's face in a photo courtesy R. Schillervery pleasant manner (and you usually don't get "redeye" when you're shooting on a bright day).

Summer Photo idea: With great weather and the kids out of school, summer offers some great photo opportunities. Play with the Kids! Kids are one of the most popular photo subjects, and now you can take photographic advantage of the fact that they're out of school. Take 'em to fun places and take lots of pictures, of both the place and of the kids enjoying it. Photograph individual kids, kids interacting with other kids, kids interacting with pets and kids interacting with parents. Use fill-flash to soften harsh-sun shadows.

FALL Photographic TIPS

Fall Tips for Capturing Autumn Scenic Images

Aim for the "magic hours". Anytime of the day you’ll find great pictures of the fall foliage, but try to take photos in the early morning or late evening. You may have heard the term "magic hour" in photography, which refers to the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. Though it's not written in stone that you’ll get the best photos at these times, you are likely to get some great lighting.

Think BIG & small Don’t spend all of your time shooting big broad landscapes. While those make nice images, remember to take pictures of the little things, too. A thousand red and yellow leaves do look pretty but, like people, each is unique and deserves a close-up.

Fall Color Tricks And Tips
The brilliant colors of fall inspire us to try to capture some of these beautiful images with our camera. But too often, the great scene we saw doesn't translate into a great photo. But with a little extra thought and care, casual photographers can catch some of the magic of fall in their images.

• Photos of fall landscapes need something significant to catch the eye, such as a figure, a prominent physical feature, a condition of light, or a splash of color.
• Show depth in landscapes by putting elements in the foreground, middle distance and background. The eye travels to a light spot in a picture, so try to place one deep in your composition.
• Frame your subject with branches or other elements to call attention to it. To avoid a static, symmetrical look, set up off-balanced compositions. Place the focus of interest away from the center of the photograph.
• Shoot early and late in the day. Early morning and late afternoon light turns a golden color, bathing everything it strikes in a warm glow.
• Try using a polarizing filter, which deepens blue skies and enriches fall colors by removing glare and reflections in shiny leaves.
• Avoid direct, front lighting. Look for other angles to side, or back light your subject.

 

Fall Color
First, don't let the dazzle of colors make you forget about good composition.

It's all too easy to end up with a bunch of pictures of yellow or red trees centered in the frame. Instead, work on using those trees as elements of your composition. It can be hard to capture on film or digital the feeling of being out in nature and fall is no exception.

Make use of compositional techniques to help draw the viewer into the images you make. Position blazes of color using the rule of thirds, look for geometrically pleasing arrangements of color or ways to make use of the contrast between the leaves that have changed and those that have not.

Look for leading lines such as fence lines or roads or the S-curve of a shoreline. Strive to be creative. Especially if you are shooting digital now, you have nothing to lose by experimenting!

WINTER Photographic TIPS

Winter tipMaybe it's cold outside . . . but it's a great time to take pictures!
If you're not an early riser, or you like to get to bed early, winter is your season for sunrises and sunsets.


The sun rises nearly three hours later, and sets nearly three hours earlier, in mid-winter than it does in mid-summer. So you can sleep in and still catch those neat things that often happen around sunrise (such as the alpenglow on pre-sunrise lenticular clouds shown here)—or photograph the sunset and still have time to go out for dinner and a movie. You can also capture those sunsets over picturesque parklands that close at 5 or 6 p.m. (which is well before sunset in mid-summer).

Camera Shopping for the Holidays? Do you need the bells and whistles?

The days of carrying around a gigantic camera bag with various lenses, flash bulbs, and spare rolls of film are over. Nowadays, there are a lot of compact or ultra-compact digital camera options that you can carry in your pocket. If you are new to digital photography or simply looking for a new digital camera, you don't need all the bells and whistles to take great shots.

photo collage courtesy R. SchillerThere are several key elements to look for when selecting a camera, including the image quality. If you have an older digital camera, you may want to look at replacing it with one that's at least five megapixels. A pixel is a single point in an image (see image at left). One million pixels equal one megapixel. The more pixels you capture, the better your image looks when you enlarge and print it.

Lower-resolution cameras (up to five megapixels) deliver sufficient resolution for attractive prints, even at sizes of 8 by 10 inches and larger. But if you're a serious shutterbug, a seven-megapixel camera provides more control over your photographic results. For example, you can crop shots more drastically without compromising image quality. Canon offers compact point-and-shoot cameras that sport seven to nine megapixels and fit perfectly in a purse or pocket; you may even find you get many of the same features offered in more cumbersome models.

Winter Photo Tips - Caring for Your Camera & Gear
While winter doesn't always mean snow, in the northern hemisphere it does mean colder weather. Cold weather affects your camera gear as well as you. For your gear, keep the camera, lens(es), film and digital memory cards under your jacket or in an insulated camera bag until ready to shoot, and return them quickly when done shooting. Keep spare batteries in a warm pocket.

 

Cold weather saps battery power (lithium types do better than most under cold conditions, but even they exhaust more quickly when it's very cold), so take spares and keep them warm.

 

Keep your film in its protective wrapping until you're ready to use it. On returning indoors, let the camera naturally reach room temperature (placing it in a tight airtight plastic bag helps) before trying to take pictures. And let film warm to room temperature before removing it from its packaging.


Remember: Condensation is a problem when moving the camera or film from a cold environment to a warm one,
but not when moving from warm to cold.

more. . .
Cameras run on battery power, and batteries hate the cold. The chemicals in batteries that create electricity don't work well when the temperature drops, so if you'd like to extend your picture taking possibilities, remember to keep the camera inside your jacket.


Be careful when bringing your camera from a very warm environment directly into the very very cold. You may get condensation. to avoid this, try the zip lock bag trick, keep your camera in the zip lock while inside, and then let it acclimate inside the zip lock for a while outdoors before you start shooting.

LCD screens hate the cold as well, and the screens use a lot of power. If your camera has an LCD screen, it's a good idea to turn it off when working in the cold.

Winter mornings
Winter mornings can provide great images. Go out before the sun melts the frozen dew. Spiders webs, icy blades of grass and frost covered berries are all great subjects to catch early in the morning.

Maybe it's cold outside . . . but it's a great time to take pictures
Bare Flora photo courtesy R. Schiller
Colorful leaves are a mainstay of fall photographers. But don't ignore those leafless trees in winter! They make great subjects for studies in lines and textures. Photographing these types of branch patterns, is something you can't do most of the year.

Extra TIP!
The holidays make for fantastic photo opportunities - Shoot First, Ask Questions Later
! Especially if your subject is a child opening a gift - or playing with a gift for the first time - within a split second, the scene can change. There is often just a few brief moments when that "magic spark" appears. Shoot quickly and shoot often. Don't be shy!

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