Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Photographing Family and Friends During The Holidays

During our holiday gatherings we want to capture great photographs of family and friends. We want our photos to be special remembrances of happy occasions. What’s the best way to make this happen?

Start by taking lots of practice portrait photos before your get together. Ask a few willing family members to pose. Practice both candid and posed shots. Read your camera’s manual. Know your camera’s settings.

Take your camera out of automatic mode. If you’re fairly new to photography set your camera on portrait mode. Portrait mode is typically located on a dial at the top of a camera and is represented by the symbol of the little lady in the jaunty hat. This mode will help adjust for lighting and background.

Whenever possible turn off your flash and use available light. You’ll be shooting at close range in small spaces so your flash may be too harsh on your subject.

Window light and no flash makes for the best indoor photos. If you do need to use your flash, turn on as many room lights as possible to reduce the flash power that’s needed to expose your image.  



Check through your viewfinder for harsh shadows on your subject and either move them to a location with better lighting, or position lamps to eliminate the shadows. 

I have a couple of tall floor lamps with bendable arms that I take with me whenever possible. They’re great for adjusting lighting and I use bulbs with a soft glow which keeps my subjects from looking harsh.

Remember to turn on your camera’s red eye reduction feature.

Tripods are handy in low light so there’s no blurring in your photos.

Keep composition in mind. Don’t cut arms, legs, hands or other body parts off in awkward places.

Make sure your subject doesn’t have any odd items “growing” out of the top or side of their head.

It’s best to leave plenty of room around your subject and crop the image later to a pleasing composition.

Use gaily colored fabric, a family heirloom quilt, or holiday items to make a backdrop for posed photos. Get creative and you’ll create really special images.


Be prepared for spontaneous moments.




Have fun and don’t forget to capture those candid shots of whacky family members. There's at least one in every family!


Thank you Keith at krwhome for allowing me to use your wonderful photos. You know how much I enjoy your images. Please be sure and follow the link to his flickr site and leave a comment or two.

After the first of the new year I'm dedicating a post to all my followers. I'll share a post on which you can link to your blog or Facebook and share some of your holiday or party photos with us. Fun!

I will be mostly off until after the new year. So stay tuned for some great new years tips and ideas for your photography. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Varina Patel, an amazing and mesmerizing photographer

Varina Patel is an amazing and mesmerizing wilderness and landscape photographer. She's in my photography circle on G+ and shares a great photography tip with us

I received a message from Varina on G+ with a description of how she photographed one of her images. I'm sharing the message with you as you'll find the photography tip as informative as I do. This is definitely something I'm going to try. 

Below is a copy of her message. You'll find her image with the original message on G+ at Varina Patel. Once on her G+ scroll down a bit to find #PhotographyTips and her image and message.  

Varina's message:

So, here's something a little bit out of the ordinary from my collection. I took this shot on a beach in Florida a few years ago. It's nothing more than a bit of a branch that I found in the sand, but I loved it's smooth form and the cracked patterns that covered it. I wanted a clean and simple portrait.

I took the stick and pushed one end into a little hole in a log nearby and set up my camera so that I could shoot the sticks straight on. I used a 180mm macro lens to get nice and close, so I could bring attention to the interesting cracks and details. And I chose a shutter speed carefully - making sure that the background was completely blown out and that the stick was exposed correctly. I wanted it to look as though I had placed the stick in front of a white background... but of course, I didn't have one out there on the beach... so I just set the stick in front of the bright sky. It's a really simple technique, and the finished image looks as though it was photographed in studio.

Obviously, this look won't work for every photo - but in this case, I like it. :) The stick seems to be reaching for something just out of the frame. I wonder what it is reaching for!"

Be sure and follow the above link to her on G+. Take a look at her wonderful image and leave comments. 

When you leave your comments on G+ please let her know you found her through #PhotographyTips Blog. You'll love her photography so take a look around while you're there. You'll find lots of inspiration in her work.

Do you have a blown out or the opposite, a silhouette photo to share? If so, be sure and leave it in your comments box so we can all share and enjoy. Or post it on your blog and leave a link.

I don't have a blown out photo to share so I've shared one of my silhouette photos, textured and layered. 

A client's engagement  photo - they were thrilled with the results. 

If you're on G+ and would like to connect let me know. If you'd like suggestions of other photographers on G+ I'll be happy to provide some. Leave me a comment.

As always, happy clicking.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Changing What's Real Monthly Event By "The Other Side of Anna"

At the beginning of each month The Other Side of Anna will be showcasing a photo gallery of her work displaying an original photo and the subsequent photo edits and editions that she has done to it.  There will be a linky tool on her blog available for anyone who would like to join in the fun.  The event will begin the first day of each month and continue until the last day of the month. There are a lot of creative photographers out there and we'd all love to see your work.

I use Photo Shop Elements for my digital art but there are lots of programs available like Picnik, Gimp, Picasa, and of course Photo Shop. Prices vary from free to expensive.

I love creating digital art and spend a lot of time at it. For me it's a relaxing artistic endeavor. I'm excited Anna has started this project and I can't wait to see what everyone posts.

Here's mine for November:

This is my original photo taken of a Peony in my garden. Notice the ants crawling around, I've pointed them out with blue arrows. They are small but definitely spoil the photo! I removed them with the cloning tool in Photo Shop Elements (PSE).

This is the same photo with the ants removed. Now I can sell this image on my RedBubble photo sales site as greeting cards, prints etc. 

Then I started playing around adding various textured layers in PSE:

Pink textured layer with grainy film look

Gold textured layer with grainy film look

The last two are similar to each other but I used PSE with Topaz Labs Filters rather than textured layers. 

I edited the first one to a soft lavender painterly look with a soft grainy feel....dreamy!

I edited this one to a soft white and grey painterly look with a soft grainy feel....more dreaminess!

All of these from just one photograph! 

ALL images are copyright protected and the property of Mari Sterling Wilbur Photographs. Thank you. If you wish to use any of my photographs please contact me at mariwilbur@gmail.com. 

Which do you like best? Leave a comment below with a link to your site. As always, feel free to leave a photo. We all love to share your work.

Be sure and visit Anna's blog and leave your post on the Linky Tool and also comments. 

Happy clicking!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How To Photograph Fast Moving Subjects Using Panning

Panning implies speed and motion without blurring your subject. 

In the images below notice how the race cars are clear and crisp but the rest of the image is blurred to show the motion of the race cars. This effect was accomplished by panning. Panning can be used with any fast moving object.

In order to pan successfully set your camera on a slow shutter speed and follow your subject’s movement and match it’s speed and direction as perfectly as possible. The faster your subject is moving the more difficult it is to pan. Panning requires lots of practice.

Tips for Successful Panning:

Panning requires a steady hand and a fairly slow shutter speed.
The actual shutter speed depends on the speed of the subject but usually it will be 1/200th or slower. 1/200th if your subject is really zipping along, like these speeding cars, and perhaps as slow as 1/40th of a second if your subject is a runner on a track.

ACURA by e_walk

When you’re first learning how to pan, don’t slow your shutter down too much.  Just keep it slow enough to begin to show some motion. As your confidence increases and your images start to look good, go ahead and slow your shutter more and more to show even greater motion. This will separate your speeding subject from the background.

Make sure your subject remains in the same portion of the frame during the entire exposure. This will guarantee a crisp, sharp subject.

It’s difficult to keep your subject in the same portion of the frame if it’s moving faster than you are. Start with something fairly slow and advance from there. Again – lots of practice.

When I first tried my hand at panning, I went to a park that had a beautiful old merry-go-‘round. I practiced photographing the horses as they made their stately and gracefully circles. They were moving at just the right speed for a beginner.

Most importantly - have fun learning this new skill. You will succeed!

Check out my prior post on photographing fast moving subjects and how to keep the entire scene in sharp focus. 

All photos above are distributed under the Creative Commons License. Thank you to the photographers for allowing their images to be used by others.

We'd love to see your photos showing panning or sharp focus photography. Post them in your comments section. Open a comments box, click on the + symbol in the left corner and follow directions. 

Happy clicking!

Monday, November 7, 2011

YouTube Tuesday - Marcel the Shell With Shoes On - Soooo Cute!


Originating at It’s Tiger Time, You Tube Tuesday is a day set aside for sharing your favorite video.  Feel free to join in and let's have fun seeing how creative we bloggers can be!  Each month a selected video will be presented the "You Tube Tuesday" Award.  If you participate, please remember to leave your link in the Linky Tool that is available at It's Tiger Time.

Share your favorite Video Every Tuesday. Be creative, have fun. The video can be about anything. Also leave your link here in your comment box so we can drop by and see your choice.

Adorable video, the kids will love it too.  Best watched large on YouTube:


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Magnificent Monday: Transport!

Welcome everyone to another Magnificent Monday!

This weeks topic is “Transport”.

Let's have a lively week linking our articles on how we like to get around town. 

Be sure and leave your comments here and a link to your blog so I can come visit and comment.

Also add your blog post to the Mr. Linky at Holes In My Soles along with a comment.

Transportation where I live:

Transportation here on The Puget Sound outside of Seattle, Washington in the USA's Pacific Northwest involves boats of all types - and lots of them. Boats of all sizes from large and small ferries run by the State of Washington Transit System to tiny sailboats and kayaks. 

The Puget Sound is a system of interconnected  waterways which connect to the Pacific Ocean and Canada with at least 16 islands within its boundary..

Car Ferry - this one's quite rusty - it's been around a long time.  

Walk-on foot ferry for island hopping.

There are 100s of marinas.

Adorable sailboats of all types.

And adorable sea life.

Be sure and link up to the Mr. Linky at Holes in My Soles and also leave a link to your post in the comments below.  I'm looking forward to seeing your photographs and reading your post.

Happy clicking!

Friday, November 4, 2011

How To Photograph Fast Moving Subjects

How to photograph fast moving subjects:
Your biggest challenge in sports and action photography is making sure that the main subject in your image stays in focus. Because your subject is moving your focus is constantly changing. There are several options for keeping moving subjects in focus.

Manual Focus:
Keep your subject in focus by tracking in manual focus mode. This takes practice and is increasingly difficult the faster your subject moves.

Automatic Tracking:
Another option is to use the automatic tracking/focusing mode. This keeps a moving subject in focus if you hold down the shutter release button half way before firing off your shot. Most DSLRs have this option and quite a few Point & Shoot cameras do too.

Photo Credit John Sterling Jr.

This is an option I personally like and use frequently depending on what I’m shooting. Pre-focus on a spot where your subject will pass in front of your camera. This takes practice but is really useful if your subject is moving on a predictable path like a race course.

If your subject is unpredictable, like a football player who changes direction often, you might like to try one of the other focusing methods above.

In theory pre-focusing is quite easy. Simply switch to manual focusing, choose a point where your subject will pass and focus on that point. Just before your subject hits that point you hit the shutter button and you should capture the shot. This may take time to perfect so you’ll want to practice on various moving subjects to perfect your technique.

With a fast moving subject set your camera at a fast shutter speed. You might also consider shooting in continuous shooting mode. In this case, start firing off shots a second before your subject arrives or starts moving. You’ll take a number of shots around your focusing point and should get at least one or two great images.

When you first try pre-focusing go to a dog park, the beach etc. and position yourself where you can see people, animals or even cars moving towards or around you. Switch to manual focusing, choose a spot and get your camera focused upon it. Wait for the action to hit that spot then click the shutter. But remember to shoot just before your subject arrives at your chosen spot. Word of caution: don’t stand in front of the action!

It will take a few outings to get your timing down but you’ll get there with practice. Give it a try this week! 

Let's see your action shots! 
Leave a photo in your comment box for all of us to share and enjoy. If you have trouble leaving a photo, give us a link back to your blog and leave your photo there :)

Happy clicking!