Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tips for Getting Backgrounds Right

1. Check your Background Before Hitting the Shutter Release

Ok - this strategy isn’t rocket science, in fact you’d think it almost goes without saying - but unfortunately it doesn’t and many of the mistakes that I see in photographs could have been avoided simply by checking the background before taking the shot and taking some sort of evasive action.

Always scan the background of your shots before taking a shot. Look for colors that don’t fit with the rest of the image, bright patches that might distract the eye, lines that clash, people that don’t belong etc.

2. Move Your Subject

This is once again a fairly simple technique but is probably the first thing you should consider. Quite often asking a portrait subject to take a step to the left or right will fix things either by putting the distraction behind them or by putting it out of frame.

3. Change your Shooting Angle

If you have distracting elements in the background of a shot but can’t move your subject another strategy is to move yourself and shoot from a new angle. This might mean rotating around your subject but could also include getting down low to make the sky the background or even getting up high and shooting down onto your subject to make the background the ground.

4. Using Aperture to Blur Backgrounds

One of the most useful things to learn as a way to combat distractions in backgrounds (and foregrounds) is to use the power of your lens to throw the background out of focus using depth of field. What you’re trying to achieve with this technique is a nice blurred background where you can’t really make out what’s going on there.

The easiest way to do this is to use a wide aperture (the smaller the number the wider the aperture). The wider your aperture the more blurry your background should become.

The quickest way to see the impact of this strategy is to switch your camera into aperture priority mode and to take a number of shots at different apertures. Start with an aperture of f/20 and work your way down - one stop at a time. Once you get down to under f/4 you’ll start seeing the background in your shots getting blurrier and blurrier.

5. Using Focal Length to Blur Backgrounds

Another way to help get your backgrounds nice and blurry is to use a lens with a long focal length. Longer tele-photo do help a little to get narrower depth of field (although the amount is less than many think). In actual fact the impact is smaller than it seems and the main reason for the change is that with a longer focal length the subject actually takes up more space in the frame. Lots of arguements have been had over whether focal length impacts this - you can read more about it here and there - I’ll leave it to the experts to discuss the finer points but will say that using longer focal lengths does seem to have some impact and is worth experimenting with.

6. Place Subjects In front of Open Spaces

Placing your subject a long way in front of other objects will also help to make those objects more blurry. For example if you have the choice between shooting your subject standing right in front of a brick wall or standing in front of an open field - the open field shot will have a much more blurred background simply because the brick wall is just centimeters from your subject and inside the focal range whereas an open field stretches off into the distance where everything will be out of focus.

7. Fill your frame with your subject

One of the most effective ways of removing distractions from backgrounds is to remove the background altogether by totally filling the frame with your subject. Get up close and/or use your zoom lens to tightly frame the shot and you’ll not only remove distractions but could end up with a high impact shot as well.

8. Make your Own Background

Sometimes there just isn’t any suitable background and so you might want to consider making your own. This could range from buying a purpose built studio background or simply buying some cloth to do the job for you.

The other thing to keep in mind is that in many instances you can move things around in the background of your shots (especially if you’re shooting indoors).

9. Post Processing

I’m no expert in using photo editing software but there are numerous ways of editing a shot after you’ve taken it to get rid of distracting elements. These can include blurring techniques, actual removing of elements and replacing them and techniques such as selective coloring (ie making your subject stand out by making your background black and white (or at least sucking some of the color out of it).

Friday, May 29, 2009

Tips for Battery Power Conservation when you are out for long time like Trekking,,,

Last year I went for a Trek with Canon Rebel XT and I had no extra battery. It was five days trek and there was no option for charging the batteries, so I managed to conserve power for all five days. So I read a lot of links for power conservation before going for trek. Recently I was discussing about new plan for 8 days trekking in Kinnaur and realized that it will be very-2 difficult to use one battery for 7 days. I am still thinking of the options I can opt to manage this.

But here I wanted to share few tips for battery power conservation:

1. Think About Your Shot First:

Think about the shot’s value before getting the camera into action. You may find that a lot of the pretty things you normally would snap four images of without thinking, turn out to be scenes simply enjoyed without need for a picture. This step alone will save a lot of battery use indirectly by reducing the amount of times you want to get your camera out.

2. Turn Off Auto Focus:

This tip only works if you use a DSLR camera. Most point and shoots (P&S)don’t have a focus ring on the lens like DSLR lenses do. If you have a point and shoot, you don’t have much of a choice. But for those with DSLRs, using manual focus can be a huge power savings. Most cameras will start focusing when the shutter release is pressed down half way and will continue to focus until the shot is taken. And the larger the lens, the more power will be sucked from the battery to bring objects into focus.

3. Turn Off The Review Feature:

Both DSLR and P&S cameras have the ability to review a shot after the image is captured. While technology for screens is advancing and battery consumption is a prime concern (as well as clarity in sunshine) it’s still best to simply turn off the review feature.

4. If Your Camera Has A Viewfinder, Use It:

More and more DSLRs are being shipped with “live view”, popular on most all P&S cameras. But this can also be a huge power draw. For the same reason turning off the review feature saves energy, turning off “live view” and using the camera’s viewfinder can possibly save more power. Personally, I purchase P&S cameras that can still be used with just a view finder for this very reason. Constant display of what’s in front of the camera is not a wise use of battery power when running low. If your P&S does not have a viewfinder, allowing you to turn off the “live view” on the LCD during shooting, this tip may be of little help.

5. Image Stabilization:

Just like autofocus, the battery is drained from constantly moving elements around inside the lens to compensate for camera shake. It’s best left off, or only turned on for vital shots.

6. Off Your Camera When Not In Use:

I know this one sounds obvious, but many of us get in the habit of leaving our camera on and letting it power down automatically.

7. Don’t Transfer Pictures:

If you are accustom to using your camera to download photos to your computer, now might be a good time to think about bringing along a USB flash card reader. Downloading from your camera will surely suck down more power as most cameras don’t take advantage of the power capabilities.

8. Increase ISO To Lessen Flash Use:

Your flash can kill your batteries in no time flat. Depending on your camera’s capabilities, it may be a worthwhile option to increase the ISO a bit in marginal lighting situations to lessen the use of the built-in flash. Before your trip, or right now, do a few quick tests in moderate indoor lighting (the most likely scenario for flash use) to see just how far you can push the ISO before it doesn’t look good to you. This setting is purely subjective. If you can stand the grain at ISO400 on your camera, then go with it. Some cameras look horrid above ISO200. Don’t take someone else’s, or some website’s, word for it, try it out yourself and see what looks good to you. Flash use has been shown to reduce battery life by as much as 40%.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Patterns and Repeatetions in Photoigraphy

While repetition in the monotony of daily life can at times be a little boring - capturing it in your photography can create an image with real impact.

Life is filled with patterns - many of which we overlook due to the business of our days - however once you get an eye for spotting them (and it takes being intentional and some practice) you’ll be amazed by what you see and you’ll wonder why you didn’t incorporate them into your photography before.

When it comes to capturing repetition in photography a couple of techniques come to mind - you can either emphasize it or break it.

Let me explain with a few examples:


Filling your frame with a repetitive pattern can give the impression of size and large numbers. The key to this is to attempt to zoom in close enough to the pattern that it fills the frame and makes the repetition seem as though it’s bursting out (even if the repetition stops just outside of your framing).

Some examples of this technique might include faces in a crowd, bricks on a wall, a line of bicycle wheels all on the same angle etc. Almost any repeated appearance of objects could work.

Posted by Ripple (VJ) : Pillars : we all need support @ Rajaon ki Baoli, Mehrauli A baoli or stepwell known as Rajon ki Bain was constructed in 1506 during Sikandar Lodhi's reign. It was used to store water though it is now completely dried and is now known as Sukhi Baoli (dry well).


The other common use of repetition in photography is to capture the interruption of the flow of a pattern. For example you might photograph hundreds of red balls with one blue one.

Sometimes you’ll find these broken patterns naturally appearing around you and on other occasions you might need to manipulate the situation a little and interrupt a pattern yourself.

Broken repetition might include adding a contrasting object (color, shape, texture) or removing one of the repeating objects.

Pay particular attention to where in your frame to place the break in the pattern. It might be that the rule of thirds comes in to play here.

Also consider your focal point in these shots - the broken pattern might be a logical spot to have everything focussed sharply.

This week I’m setting myself a little assignment to get out and take some shots that emphasize patterns and repetition.

Posted by Ripple (VJ) : Light Pattern on my office wallsLight Pattern on my office walls : Can you describe???

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