Saturday, 7 February 2015

photography at Bristol Folk House {Pt 4}

Our mission today was to find colour, and keep the composition guidelines in mind while we did that.  I find the rule of thirds quite easy to follow, and it makes a big difference to the way the pics end up looking.  The main discovery of the day was that I don't like colour.   I know that sounds a bit odd, and is probably not very well worded - Kim and Rachel pointed out that it would be more accurate to say I'm not drawn to colour in the same way that I am to texture and detail and shapes and lines. 

Having said that, I like this one from inside the cathedral.  Not particularly original I know, but I'm getting to the stage where I can pick out features that make it work. 

This one, for example, kind of follows the rule of thirds in that if you divide the picture into three equal vertical pieces the eye catching element takes up one of these thirds.  As this technically breaks the 'avoid the bullseye shot' rule I've decided to ignore that one, and point out that I've used the architectural elements of the arches (echoed in the shape of the window itself) to frame the window - a frame within a frame emphasised by the multiple arches and symmetrical features.

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This is the kind of thing I'm drawn to - dried up bits of buddleja.  Oh yes.  Crunchy and crispy and all different browns.

I guess it might follow the rule of thirds in that the tip lies on the first vertical third line; a leading line in the shape of the rest of the stem, curving around from the right; using a shallow depth of focus to draw attention to the tip; a restricted colour pallette with natural shades of brown and green - what do you think?  Does it sound like I did it on purpose?  Because obviously I had all those elements in mind when I carefully composed the photo...

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The subject we discussed today was portraits - head and shoulders shots of people.  Because my camera is technically a bridge camera - greater zoom and more manual options than most 'ordinary' compact cameras,  but not a fancy DSLR (not sure,  but I think Digital Single Lens R...Reflector? Something like that!) that has extra lenses that you swap around depending on what kind of photos you're taking - a lot of what was mentioned about which lens to use and why sounded like complete mumbo jumbo to me, so I'm just noting down points that I understood found relevant. 

Helping your subject relax

Ask open questions, chat about inane topics - the weather, the kids, holidays - think hairdresser.  This will hopefully help your subject feel less self conscious,  but do be aware of funny mouth shapes!  Maybe use the time they're speaking to line everything up and snap away when they pause.

Give clear instructions - for example, use their name and ask them to look at the door or out of the window.  By keeping your instructions short and clear your subject are more likely to feel confident they they're 'doing the right thing', and you can get the angles that work.

If they are fidgety it might help to give them something to hold - a child who struggles to sit still might find it easier to do so if given a toy or (safe!) piece of equipment to hang on to.

A table can be a useful aid - it provides a firm surface for your subject to lean on as well as a psychological barrier to hide behind if they feel uncomfortable with the camera.

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Technical tips

Burst mode can be useful - taking a number of photos in very short succession can give you a natural facial expression rather than posed features

Use a big aperture (small number) to get the face in focus with a blurred background, free of distractions

Use natural, diffused light if possible - this will reduce shadows on and around the face

Consider using black and white - monotone portraits can look amazing

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So my mission this week is to take some portrait shots of the kids - hmm...

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introductions and apertures

practicing aperture priority; about shutter speed; why control shutter speed?; points to remember about shutter speed; white balance; monochromatic photography

practicing shutter priority; panning; composition

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