How to Not Take a Tacky Selfie (Hint: hide that toothpaste in the background)

Thanks to the cell phone cam, we see tons of selfies when logging into the internet. It seems that there is an obsession among you people to take these kinds of pics and then use them to allure likes and comments.

I recently went through a list of these, where the author was able to point out the don’ts when it comes to taking a self photograph. He made some valid points, which should be obvious in many cases, but I will still point them out:

Stop Leaning into the Camera

Girls, we know what you are trying to do here, but what ends up happening is you look like a bubble head. You know, where your head is bigger than it should be. For a more attractive selfie, stand tall and straight with the non picture taking hand on your waist. If you want something to stand out, use a blouse to do that.

Get out of the Bathroom

Honestly, this just leads to way too many opportunities for photo bombs. I saw a whole bunch of stuff I wish I could unsee looking through bathroom shots. The least worrisome being clutter like an electric toothbrush and water flosser on the counter top. That wasn’t so bad, at least you brush your teeth like a human being. You should however look at what is going on behind you. And since we are on that topic, it is blatantly obvious when you are sitting on a toilet. Stop taking pictures there, or anywhere inside of the bathroom.

The Fakers

Fake selfies have become a thing on FB. Where a picture is posted and the comment is contradicted by a clue in the picture. An example would be a selfie of you behind the wheel, complaining about the traffic. Yet the reflection in your sun glasses shows not another car in sight. Just be real people, otherwise you make yourself look bad.

The Group Selfie

Can one of you step outside of the picture and take it for the group? The only thing worse with a group of people in one self shot is one taken in the bathroom. The angle is not wide enough for this and makes everyone in the shot seem scrunched together.

roo

Photo Shop

A picture that has been photo shopped can be seen from a mile away. Trying to make things look bigger or smaller, a different color, or different body altogether never works. If you aren’t happy with your selfie, just delete and try again.

There isn’t anything wrong with taking a self portrait artists have been doing that for centuries. The difference is they paid close attention to the details before sharing it with the public. That’s what you need to do as well if you want your selfie to be classy and realistic.

New Project: Making People Taste My Pictures

I wanted to give taking pictures of food a try, to see how much appeal a picture can really make. Food shots are all the rage thanks to Instagram, but I wanted to be a bit more professional then the burritos I had at Taco Bell. During my trial run in food photography, I learned a few things that cost very little to nothing, but really made a difference in the shot.

Food Needs Light

Food looks best in photos when it is captured in natural light. Kitchen lighting will make everything look yellow and your flash will create unnatural shadows. Take the bowl of fruit outside or put it next to a big window if you really want those strawberries to look fab.

Shoot Like It’s a Recipe

There is no reason why you can’t show a shot or two of how you got that fried chicken to look so crispy. When shooting for a recipe, don’t be shy about showing the progression in photos. Take a shot of your base ingredients, how they were blended and even the frying unit you used to finish them off. Use fun angles like looking down into the boiling oil while the chicken is working, just be careful not to get oil on the lens.

chickenAdd A Lot of Green

When you are showing a finished product, make sure you garnish it. Or place it on top of fresh ingredients like lettuce. Fried chicken on plate is one thing, but a piece of fried chicken on a bright green bed of kale? That’s sumptuous. You can also sprinkle the food with parsley or chopped chives to make it look better.

Restaurant Food

Since you are not in control of how the dish looks, taking impromptu shots of restaurant food is a challenge. Plus you have the background to contend with and how appealing it looks. Here you want to first make sure that the plate of food looks great, and then take the shot looking straight down on it. This was the only way I had success with taking food shots in restaurants.

When in Doubt… Fake it

If you are having a hard time getting the food to behave for the shot, fake it. No one will know that the salmon in the picture is cold if you pour hot butter on top of it first to make it look just off the grill. Learning how to make the conditions right will get you the perfect shot each time.

I enjoyed this experiment and gained a few pounds doing it. Learning a new aspect of photography is always an eye opening experience. Experiment with your food photography and see if you can’t make people want to take a bite.

Invoking all the senses in a Photograph

For a professional photographer, getting the visual across is only part of the art. An exceptional photographer is able to make those who view it, feel the image with more than just the eyes. They can taste, smell and even feel what the object of your lens wants them to.

This is not easy to pull off. First you need the right subject. If you are given the task of shooting food, make sure that it looks like something you would want to eat yourself. Bright colors against a stark white or black background make food shots stand out and look good enough to eat.

To invoke the sense of touch you are going to want to pair like objects together to offer the viewer a frame of reference. For example, if working with a clothing company that sells leather pants, have the model sitting on a leather sofa. We all know how nice leather feels and will be able to sense that from the picture.

Surprisingly, the sense of smell is the easiest to work into photography. Take perfume ads for example. Many of these are in print and yet wildly popular. Why? Because the model is surrounded by subtle hints at what the scent she is wearing is. A small vase of flowers on a night stand or a little strawberry in the hand lets the viewer know how she smells without even them knowing why.

diffuser

In some cases it is even how the bottle is displayed in the ad. Take essential oils for example. If you wanted to shoot a picture of an essential oil diffuser necklace and show how lovely they smell, you can simply place the necklace and bottle of essential oils surrounded by the herbs, flowers, or fruits. Peppermint sticks for peppermint oil, rose petals for rose… you get the idea. There are a few examples of this at www.scentsationoil.com.

How about making somehow hear your photo? This is not as easy to pull off and is dependent on your subject. Let’s say for example you are shooting a guitar and want to portray how loud it is. Dark colors with a little bit of fuzz in the photo will convey the message that this is a loud musical instrument.

One of my favorite sound shots are of breaking waves. There are just some pictures of surfers that I have seen where I can actually hear the wave break on the sand. This is done with a wide angle shot that shows both the water and the beach.

During your career in photography, you will be called upon to shoot a large number of items that at first glance may seem simple and boring. Put that thought aside and try to think outside of the box. If you frame it right and add sense invoking elements, you will create more than a photograph, you will create art.

The Art of Sports Photography

We have all seen them on newspaper covers and in magazines, that perfect shot of an athlete as he or she is midway in a throw, shot or hit. The look on the face priceless as the photographer catches them at their greatest moment.

Whether you are shooting a pro basketball team, or your sons little league, there is a certain art to this kind of photography. Just as you need to take certain things into consideration when shooting party scenes, you must also study a playing field first if you have dreams of capturing that glory moment.

Shutter Speed

A professional sports photographer is using a shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second or higher. This is good for daytime sports but if shooting a night game you are going to need a faster F stop. If you increase the ISO your camera is going to see more light and the shots will look better. Try this with a night time football game and you will see a big difference.

Change the Angle

little

Sports shots at face level are a thing of the past. Try moving your body into position to get the shot from a different perspective. Got a little leaguer running to first base? Lay down on the ground and shoot from his feet up. This offers a whole new way of looking at how the game is played.

The Background is Important Too

Fan shots tell the story and show the excitement that the game is providing. They can also convey a striking image for what may seem to some a boring event. Take shooting archery for example. There is not much action here beyond pulling back the recurve bow and taking aim, but if you shoot the arrow in flight, with the archer framed by beautiful woods scenery, you have created a masterpiece.

Try getting an inexpensive beginner’s recurve bow at FastFlightArchery.com to use as a prop for your upcoming shots.

Can You Use a Flash?

In most cases you will not be able to use flash at a sporting event. This will be distracting to the players. Inside events are usually equipped for photography with bright lights already set up. This should provide more than adequate lighting for your pictures to come out beautifully.

Practice the techniques first at amateur events to get a feel for how the photography works. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get that perfect shot at every game. Sometimes the moment doesn’t happen.

Once you feel comfortable at amateur events, try your techniques on a professional level. You will be amazed at the difference in the way they look and the emotions they portray. As your skills grow your pictures will improve and may very well end up on the cover a newspaper one day.

What’s the Trend in Today’s Wedding Photography

wedding photographyIf you are planning to take advantage of Calgary wedding photography services nowadays, you should at least know what the trends in this type of photography are so you can expand your choice of themes and scenes.

In photography, you will find a lot of aspects being added as well as many techniques that are being used to produce high quality pictures. If you want to make sure that your wedding photographs are as memorable as it can be, you should at least know what to look for in a wedding photography service.

The first thing that you may want look into is the type of equipment being used in taking photographs. Gone are the days when we use Polaroids, films and all that stuff. Nowadays there are various types of cameras which can be used in taking pictures for special moments like this. One of the major options nowadays is a DSLR camera which has so many features in zooming, clear capture and all of those elements needed to capture special moments on a wedding event.

You can as well opt for various types of photography trends such as the usual black and white soft toned pictures that you may always see on a wedding album, candid wedding pictures which can surely reflect the happiness not only of the couple but the people who have been invited to join this special occasion or you can opt for a Hollywood style wedding photography theme that can surprise everybody else.

If you were to get the services of a wedding photographer it is essential that you have seen his or her previous works to check if this is the type of photography that you really want for your own wedding event. Checking the portfolio of wedding photography services is one smart thing to do before signing those papers.

You can as well do your own research. Usually these wedding photographers or videographers have their own web pages online which you can use for your own reference. Some of them have reviews which you can try to read first to check on how reliable their services are for events such as this. In doing this, you can now compare the services you can get from these various providers and help you make the right decision on who to hire.

We are all aware on how expensive a wedding event could be. To save more money and to save time from making mistakes, it essential to find the right services that will make things happen for you. A wedding is a once in a lifetime event in your life and it pays to make the right decision in choosing the right photography service that you can rely on and can deliver the type of pictures that you want.

New Project: Dogs in their element

dog with head in tree

How can a dog resist checking out the mysteries of the forest? This fluffy fella (husky-mix) I got to meet on my last nature excursion was the friendliest, sniffiest and most happy-go-lucky dogs I’ve ever met! I chatted with his owners a bit, who told me they named him George (yes, much like the famous fictional monkey, Curious George) after knowing him for only a few hours. After witnessing his immediate curiosity of everything as a puppy, they just knew it was meant to be!

dog in forest and sun

This beautiful Rottweiler-mix stands a little taken aback in the early forest dawn. Don’t worry, that’s not a dead bird beside her! I believe she was chewing on this bush’s branches before I snapped the shot. I could tell Luna was a morning dog, much unlike her yawning owner I met with her morning coffee and sweats on.

sled dogs in the cold

On a trip last winter to Northern Canada, I was introduced to a small group of dog-sledders and their dogs. These huskies were a little hyped up at the time I shot this, some were sleeping but these 4 in the front were the center of attention. They were barking and howling at each other under the evening sky in the vast openness of the icy plains. It really couldn’t have been more surreal.

boxer dogs on the beach

Bowie and Boots are regulars here at this beach. Looking pretty serene out to the ocean and gloomy skies, I can only imagine where their minds are going (probably thinking out dashing out to the water any second).

dog rolling in grass

My goofy and hairy pal Gus in the backyard during mid-summer. What better way to itch and play at the same time than having a good old roll in the grass?! He’s the most obedient dog I’ve ever known (I promise I’m not biased!), he’s never run away even though we still haven’t put up a real fence! Good boy, Gus. Good boy.

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How to Take Good Party Photographs

The combination of alcohol, lots of people and poor lighting conditions is not the best backdrop for a good photo.

Unfortunately, these are the circumstances a photographer or any amateur snapper is confronted with when tasked with capturing the sights and memories at most social functions. And if you are not careful, you can end up with a stream of useless snaps which are no good for anyone.

But you don’t need the patience of a monk to come away with a couple of decent shots. Just follow these simple tips on how to take good party photos.

Make preparation

You should be at the party long before the guests arrive so you can set yourself up for the job you are going to be doing. But before you have even arrived, you should know what style of photographs you will be taking, and have your camera settings adjusted accordingly.

If you are going for candid photography, then a wide aperture setting on your lens is a great choice. However, you need to be prepared to take shots of people who come up to you asking for their photo to be taken, in which case the wide aperture brings a shallow depth of field, which wonít work so well.

If youíre taking more staged or group photos, then you should have a deeper depth of field, and to make up for the lack of light, youíll have to use your camera’s flash. Everyone knows that flash photography can look pretty terrible at the best of times, but if visibility is poor, you can’t avoid it.

Whatever the case, now is the time to test your settings with the lighting conditions. Take several test shots to see if everything is working out. If you are at a wedding reception, take some snaps inside the main hall area. If you are at a summer cookout, shoot around the cooking equipment from Charcoal Smokers – Smoky Goodness Barbecue.

Group shots

Now that your camera is set up its time to start shooting. If your party is an event, then there will be a core group of people that you should snap. If it is just a gathering, then try getting shots of the various groups that are there. You can also stay one step ahead by getting shots of people as they arrive.

The main subject

If the party is to honor a particular person, such as someone’s birthday, you should take a close-up picture of this honoree as well as a group picture of everyone attending the party surrounding this person.

Capture the surroundings

If your party is a BBQ, take some snaps of guests eating their SmokyGoodnessBBQ.com – Pulled Pork rolls around the table. If it’s a party at a bar or restaurant, take pictures of people drinking together or dining together happily.

Candid shots

Another good reason to have your camera out and ready before people arrive is so that they see it and relax knowing a camera is about. Now it will be easier for you to take shots when people are unaware. Don’t be afraid to zoom in either, you can get some really good facial expressions with a nice zoom.

How To Photograph Food

Want to hear a horror story about what some photographers do to food to make it look good? How about that rumour about food stylists brandishing a can of shoe polish and applying it liberally to raw chicken to make it look perfectly roasted – ever heard that one?

But don’t worry. There are more natural ways to accomplish great food photography without resorting to such measures. After a little practice, you really can make food look as good as it smells.

Setting

Stop thinking just about the food for a second and consider what setting around it would compliment the food visually. You should go for simple, plain backgrounds in most cases, and certainly something that enhances, but doesn’t distract, from your food. Think about a scenario where you wanted to take photos of the juiciest, smoked pieces of steak. Would you photo them on a dark brown table-cloth? Of course you wouldn’t. The color of the steaks would be lost within the background. Something that contrasts with the food color would be much better. In this instance, shooting them on the dark grill of my smoker that I bought after researching using the best†Barbecue Smoker Buying Guide not only gives me a good contrast between roasted brown and black, it also enhances the food’s appearance into something that whets the appetite.

Getting the contrast right is one thing but remember to not spoil it all with distracting clutter in the background. Like cutlery, or from personal experience: dirty tongs. †Also, if you are going to put equipment in your shot, make sure you have one of the best gas and propane smokers†and not an old rusted up model.

Lighting

Now you have the setting you need to think about lighting. Backlight is key to texture and making the food appear appetizing. This will also allow any steam to show up in the image as steam or smoke will show up prominently when lit from behind. Now, I’m not talking about actual smoke, such as the type when food is burning. I don’t think it would be the best idea to photo that. No, that lovely vapour that oozes out of the best hot dishes or foods.

Needless to say, fail to get the lighting right and your food photography can look flat and unappealing.

White balance

Ever notice that bad food photography tends to have a yellow or blue cast that makes the food look unappealing? That’s because the white balance is not correct. Use the white balance on your camera, or use Photoshop to correct it later on. Color balance is especially important if you are shooting in areas with low natural light and nailing it can make your pictures come alive.

Camera Angle

Varying your camera angle can help both with lighting and the picture’s white balance. From directly overhead, tilted, or shooting into the edge of the plate or table, try different angles when shooting your food items. Get creative and try to show it in a different way than most people would see it.

Don’t shoot

Some foods, no matter how hard you try, will just never look delicious. So learn what not to shoot. Meals that are all the same color and brown sauces are best left alone.

Use the right camera

You can probably get by with a point-and-click camera if you know how to use it well (read through the manual, master the macro settings and practice!) because you donít necessarily need a fancy camera to take amazing food photos. However, when you are ready to have full control over your focal length and exposure, save up for a digital SLR camera. They are worth every penny.

I personally use a Nikon D7000, and it has never let me down once. But remember, comparable models will produce photos of comparable quality, so do some research and choose the one you are most comfortable with.

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Photography: A Paddle Board Shoot

One of my favorite destinations to shoot is at the beach. Anytime I get a project from a client that will allow me to incorporate the sun, sand and surf into my pictures I take it.

There is something poetic about the way the surf breaks, while it’s passengers glide to the shore line. The strength and the grace of the ocean has always been something that has enticed me – and thousands of other photographers to capture it.

I’ve been known to take a few pictures of surfers, okay a lot of pictures. To this day it is still one of my favorite images to capture. So it shouldn’t surprise anybody that I spent the weekend at the beach chatting up strangers with paddle boards asking them if I could snap a few shots of them. Of course some laugh and politely decline (I suspect they’re worried they’re not going to look very groovy on their SUP). Others are happy to oblige, usually following with a “yeah but only if you send me some!”

It’s not everyday a photographer asks you if they can take your photo – who knows you may end up famous!

My first shoot drew inspiration from this shot from paddlepaddle.com. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to shoot when the sun was setting as it is in this photo.

sup-yoga1

How’re I did manage to capture some pretty terrific shots of some pretty girls doing yoga on their boards. So many thanks to those that let me shoot them! This one was probably my favorite shot, in part because this gal was beautiful in every sense of the way. I also like the pier pillars look in the background. The gal in the photo exudes strength and balance. Even if it were a video instead of a still shot, one gets the feeling that she wouldn’t waver what so ever.

SUP Yoga2

It’s pretty remarkable to see how versatile folks are on a paddle board are. One minute they’re doing yoga on their paddle board next the pier on calm waters. Minutes later they’re half way down the beach in the surf line waiting to catch a wave. I kid you not that subject in the first shoot was riding waves later on her board. Pretty slick stuff.

The beach really is one of my favorite places to shoot. Maybe it’s because it feels so care free and artistic. Everyone there is expressing themselves, relaxing or a bit of both. You also meet some really laid back folks who are happy to be the subject of your photographs which is pretty damn cool.

A Pen for the Piece

Quill InkAs an artist, the single most important tool is the one you use to create your piece. For a musician this could be a guitar or a piano while for a painter it could be the paint itself or the paint brush. For many artists, that tool is a pen, which is the instrument used for the creation of art.

Pens come in a variety of different forms. Long gone are the days of a quill and ink where you had to have your ink on your desk and dip it between every couple of words. Today, there is a pen in pretty much every room you walk in to. In fact many people will even carry a pen with them. Computers have of course reduced the quality of penmanship which once existed. Today, kids in school don’t even learn cursive and if they did, it is hardly a focus of the curriculum anymore. However, pens are still a part of everyday life and as mentioned above, are the most important tool available to many artists.

The quality of pens of course varies as well. In an office supply store, you can purchase a box of pens for under $5.00. Typically, these pens will be of poor quality however and will not last more than a couple of days or weeks of continued use. Another risk of buying cheap pens is if they break in your purse, jacket or shirt. Ink is nearly impossible to remove which means cheap pens have the potential to ruin clothing and accessories if not handled with care.

The quality of ink within cheaper pens is also very poor as well. In colder climates the ink won’t work properly and will flow very slowly from the tip making it nearly impossible to write. In warmer climates, the ink will become runny, smearing ink across the page unless extremely careful. Regardless it is important to invest in a good pen, especially if you are an artist.

Perhaps the most reliable pen you can buy is a tactical pen. Tactical pens are designed for professionals who require a writing utensil they can rely on. Made of anodized aluminum, tactical pens will never fracture or break except in the case of being exposed to extreme stressors. Furthermore, tactical pens are made to use refillable ink of the highest quality. This allows these specialized pens to work in the harshest of conditions including extreme heat and extreme cold.

As an artist, it is important to invest in the proper tools. A tactical pen you will have for years to come, lending it’s abilities to your art pieces perhaps even helping you to create your very own masterpiece.

 

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