How To Take Pictures - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-07-2009, 09:08 AM   #1
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I probably know less about taking pictures with a camera than anything else. My wife always complains that I fail to include people in the picture. Photos that were recently sent to relatives received the same criticism. OK, I get it, more people. So, besides including people, how do you take good pictures?

I recall reading something from a famous movie director that landscape type pictures, whether they be movies, paintings or photographs, should contain a certain amount of sky to foreground. Anyone know the percentage?
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Old 08-07-2009, 09:48 AM   #2
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I am an avid amateur photographer, and while there are lots of 'rules', like most with experience I tend to ignore them and do what I like, look for what I like in others results and try to find new approaches the the same old shot.

I include people lots in my photography, even when canoeing or hiking in the backcountry to add some interest and memories. I still do take landscape type shots to show the beauty of an area.

The best thing you can do is to practice lots. Don't just take snaps of stuff (though this is still a good thing to do), but actually take some time to set up a shot, try different angles, adjust your depth of field to give the background an out of focus blur.

By far, my favourite people shots are the candid ones, as people are much more natural an 'real' in these shots. I hate it when I sit for a few minutes with my camera trained on a kid, waiting for that right moment, and someone pipes in an tells the kid to smile.

There are TONS of great resources out there for photography, from books to forums, that will give you lots of good ideas. Still, nothing beats practicing.
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Old 08-07-2009, 11:06 AM   #3
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Steve I can only say what works for me, and I do sell cards with my photos on them which bring oohs and ahs from folks. I do not have fancy camera equipment, just a few simple point and shoot digitals that have a few settings for close-ups etc. and some ability to zoom in. You didn't say what type of camera you have which can make a difference in what you can do.

It sounds like the people you share your pictures with like people pictures so that is always a good idea. That aside, I find relatively close-ups of plants, birds, animals etc. make for interesting pictures, really great landscapes require good equipment though I have had some luck with landscapes. People pictures are also more interesting if you zoom in a bit and get up close and personal.

Lighting lighting lighting and composition is what you'd learn from reading about photo taking. I have taken the same shot at different times or different angles and the lighting makes one look great and the other blah. Many people think direct sun light is ideal, but depending upon the camera, it can make a shot, especially people, look washed out. More indirect light can make a picture look richer in colors.

Composition can mean different things - it may mean looking for a feature or element of interest if taking a broad view, looking at how features in the shot go together, even with people pictures the surroundings make a big difference. Is there a pole behind someone's head that looks like it is growing out of their head? Learning to look at all the elements of a photo is important, I have taken some pretty weird photos by not noticing what is going on around what I was focusing on. Composition also can be changed by a different angle, Jim mentioned angles and I find when out in nature just by shifting my perspective a shot can look more interesting.

The wonderful thing about digital is you can just shoot away, take enough pictures and you're bound to be lucky. If you don't download, delete and edit on your own computer I recommend learning how, it can make a big difference - no one has to see those 'bad' pictures, just the good ones! You do not need to learn Photoshop, which can be overwhelming, I have a Mac and use iPhoto but there are programs for PCs that allow basic editing capabilities. Sometimes just being able to crop a photo can change the composition enough to make a not-so-interesting photo interesting.

Most of all - have fun!

Penney
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Old 08-07-2009, 11:47 AM   #4
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Hi Steve,

As far as landscapes go, most of the time you want to avoid putting the horizon dead in the middle of your shot. A 1/3 2/3 "guideline" works for some. In other words if the sky is the more interesting part of your shot make that 2/3 if it isn't, make it the 1/3. Also try to make sure your horizon line is level, especially with water!

People in your shots, even if they are small, give context and scale to the environment. With people,try avoiding putting them dead center in your shots. It's similar to the 1/3 2/3 "rule" where it's more interesting if they are off center, (framewise not mentalwise).

Lots of good advice already. There are also photography forums on the net that you can view and glean tips from. Finally, the best advice I can give is when you look at photos that you like, ask yourself why do you like it? What makes you stop at some photos and not at others? Teaching your brain how to see things will help your photography more than anything. Good luck!
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Old 08-07-2009, 11:55 AM   #5
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Never tried this, but I've heard you need to get up at 2:30 am and hike 15 miles in somewhere where no one else has ever been, before the sun comes up, to get a good landscape picture.

Jim and Penney have some pretty good advice on setting up and "bracketing a shot" with different angles, shutter speeds, etc. and being able to shoot away with digital now vs film. One instructor used to tell our class that if you get one "keeper" on a 36 roll you had a good day. Of course, his definition of "keeper" and ours probably varied a bit.

There are tons of great photography classes as well at community colleges, and just around town that would really be a great way to get better faster. They just had one here in Phoenix where you followed one of the top instructors around for a morning and shot away, then he judged the photos and picked his 6 favorite which got published in the paper.
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Old 08-07-2009, 12:25 PM   #6
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I'm the last person who should be giving advice on how to take pictures. Lots of the ones I've taken of my daughter, there always seems to be something sticking out of the top of her head... like telephone poles!

But, I agree with your wife is saying about needing "people shots." Memories are made not only of places you've been, but people who were there during the experience. Times in the future, you'll be able to look at these peoples and remember stories of the "who, what, when and where." People in the pictures add to that time "remembered." And when we're long gone and our families own the pictures, they'll look at them and say, "That's grandmother at the Grand Canyon," rather than just simply that's the "Grand Canyon." You can find that kind of picture in lots of books.

My 2-1/2 cents, for whatever that's worth!
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Old 08-07-2009, 12:48 PM   #7
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OK, my brain is full already with all these good suggestions. Hope I can remember them the next time I use the camera, which incidently is a Canon SD1000 Powershot. I also have a Nikon Coolpix 4500 but it hardly gets used anymore. I like the Canon better because of the small size.

I don't know if this is what everybody is talking about but it's one of my favorite collection of pics. Well done IMHO.
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Old 08-07-2009, 02:14 PM   #8
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Others have mentioned these things, but since I find that even when there are repeats, I like to hear different people's perspectives, I'll assume others do too.

1) I find that it's soooo easy to "ignore" the background when I'm taking a photo. It's like my brains knows what it is I'm looking for in the photo, and so it filters out the background. But then when I or others look at the photo later, the background suddenly stands out. So I've learned to really look at the background when I'm framing a shot.

2) The other thing I've realized, is that for me it's nearly impossible to take a really good photo mid-day. On the other hand, the low, saturated light of morning or evening can make even my (decidedly middle of the road) photos look neat. I'm not a morning person at all, so that leaves me with evenings Of course I still take photos mid-day, but I know they're not going to be as nifty.

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Old 08-07-2009, 03:02 PM   #9
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Lookie what just showed up on our local news station... for what it's worth:
How to take great vacation photos
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Old 08-07-2009, 03:06 PM   #10
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Hi Steve,

As far as landscapes go, most of the time you want to avoid putting the horizon dead in the middle of your shot. A 1/3 2/3 "guideline" works for some. In other words if the sky is the more interesting part of your shot make that 2/3 if it isn't, make it the 1/3. Also try to make sure your horizon line is level, especially with water!

People in your shots, even if they are small, give context and scale to the environment. With people,try avoiding putting them dead center in your shots. It's similar to the 1/3 2/3 "rule" where it's more interesting if they are off center, (framewise not mentalwise).
Steve,
What Brian M. is describing is called the "Rule of Thirds" and he is right on. Photos compositions can be divided into thirds either horizontally or vertically. . . it all depends on the main subject. You must decide on the main subject of your composition in advance and take steps accordingly.

Another feature to be mindful of is that in Western cultures we tend to "read" photos from left to right just like we do the printed word. If you are aware of this tendency when you compose your photos then you will try to do a couple of things depending on the situation: 1) If a person is in the first third of the composition and the landscape is the other 2/3s then the person should be looking to the right of the photo. Just like the person in the photo, the viewer is now directed toward the landscape. (Of course, if the person in the photo is vastly more interesting than the landscape, then the person will take up the first 2/3 of the photo and the landscape will be minimized.) 2) If the person is in the last third of the composition then he/she should be looking to the left. In this example, the viewer will first "read" the landscape and then focus on the person embedded in the landscape. It all depends on what you, as the photographer, want to emphasize in your telling of the story. It may appear fairly elementary to some but you would be amazed at how many people take photos where the viewer's eye is simply directed off the photo and not toward the intended subject of the composition.

Lastly, do not be afraid to turn your camera for vertical shots. Most people take all of their shots on the horizontal axis and it never occurs to them to shoot vertically in certain situations (like when you are taking a picture of a couple in front of a boring background). Variety is the spice of life. Just a thought.

May you enjoy many successful photo safaris!
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Old 08-07-2009, 05:17 PM   #11
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Steve, the rule of thirds is probably the most significant compositional rule. Leading lines, selective focus, depth of field, and proper (or improper as the case may be) exposure all come immediately next in line.

Here's a really good illustration of the "rule of thirds".

There's a lot of good information on-line about all this stuff. Despite being a professional wedding photographer for over thirty years, I'm still looking for that "perfect" shot...

Roger
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Old 08-07-2009, 05:21 PM   #12
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Yes, Rule of Thirds! Here are some examples of what I was talking about: Two shots at Matagorda beach on the Texas coast. One all about the beach, the other all about the sky.

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Old 08-07-2009, 06:06 PM   #13
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, Roger!
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Old 08-07-2009, 07:22 PM   #14
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Quote:
how do you take good pictures?

A virtually impossible question to answer with any degree of authority

See it
Shoot it

that's about it.
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