Snapshots to Great Shots

Turning a Snapshot into a Great Shot in Maui: Controlling the Light



Photographs © Rick Sammon

DPE co-founder Juan Pons and I, as well as several members of the Digital Photo Experience gang, are just back from the 2010 Maui Photo Festival & Workshops. What fun, and what a fantastic learning experience.

One of the highlights of the event was the "Hula Dancers at Sunset" shoot, organized by DPE contributor Randy Jay Braun, a local photographer on Maui. Many of the presenters chimed in with tips on using reflectors, diffusers and a flash. Here is just one example.

We made the opening picture for this post by controlling the strong, direct and unflattering sunlight. Two diffusers were held between the sun and subject to soften the shadows, and a gold reflector was held to bounce some light onto the darker side of the subject. The gold reflector also added a beautiful glow to the subject's face.

See! It's easy to turn a snapshot into a great shot - and it's easy to control the light.

Best,
Rick



Snapshots to Great Shots: Make the Picture

Today at the Maui Photo Festival, we had fun demonstrating how to turn a snapshot into a great shot.

After finding a willing subject, who was on her honeymoon, I took a snapshot of her along one of the busy hotel paths. Then, I grabbed a red table cloth and had two assistant hold the table cloth behind her - which created a studio-type atmosphere. Basically, we made the picture.

The lighting on the subject was soft and sweet. Notice the natural hair-light, too. We also made the picture by choosing the location based on the light.

We made a quick video of this snapshot-to-great shot moment. It will be posted on DPE soon!

Explore the light,
Rick

SLR Snapshots to Great Shots Week: Last Day - Avoiding Flats


This week's blog was devoted to SLR tips - in honor of the Wiley DVD (available this fall) that I was shooting on the new Canon Rebel T1i . All the photos were taken with that camera. It's a also to celebrate my new SLR classes on Kelbytraining.com (available now).

Today is the last day of T1i posts... for a while, at least.

The title of today's post, Avoiding Flats, refers to avoiding flat pictures - in other words, pictures that don't show the full brightness range of a scene . . . pictures that lack contrast.

Pictured here is our entire DVD crew: David Leveen (creative director), Jen Maihack ("student") and yours truly. The top row of pictures was shot with the camera set to the Monochrome Picture Style. The pictures are okay - but they were taken in the shade and lack contrast, as indicated by the histogram (spaces at the left and right of the "mountain range").

By simply moving the shadow and highlight triangles inside the "mountain range," the contrast was improved. See the bottom row of pictures. Yes, it's a subtle change, but enough to make a difference - in my books anyway. Adjusting Curves (making an "S") can also improve a photo's "looks."

So when you do a get a flat photo, fix it in the digital darkroom.

And, please check your histogram on your camera's LCD monitor after you take a shot. It's the best way to determine a whether or not you have a good exposure.

Happy 4th,
Rick

SLR Shapshots to Great Shots Week: Day 5 - Goodbye Jen & When You Plan, Pray!

This week's blog is devoted to SLR tips - in honor of the Wiley DVD (available this fall) that I am currently shooting on the new Canon Rebel T1i . All the photos were and will be taken with that camera. It's a also to celebrate my new SLR classes on Kelbytraining.com (available now).

Well, my “student,” Jen Maihack, on the DVD has flown the coup – back to Florida! She did an great job, playing the part of the student very well, especially because she is a pro photographer herself.

Thanks Jen. Great work!

Speaking of great work, our creative director, David Leveen, actually shot a few HD video segments with the T1i. We'll post some soon.

So what’s the tip for this installment of SLR Snapshots to Great Shots? Here goes:

When You Plan on Taking Outdoors Portraits,
Pray for an Overcast Sky

During a shoot at Bear Mountain State Park, one segment was devoted to shooting portraits. Thankfully, the sky was overcast, as you can see in the top right of the frame in my vertical picture on the right.

An overcast sky produces soft, pleasing flattering light – unlike the harsh light we get on sunny days.

If it is sunny, try to shoot in the shade or use a diffuser to soften the light. Shooting before sunrise and after sunset works, too.

Explore the Light,
Rick
P.S. If you like the image on the left better than the picture on the right, let me know here. I’ll share the technique.

SLR Snapshots to Great Shots Week: Day 3 - A-Depth is A-OK

This week's blog is devoted to SLR tips - in honor of the Wiley DVD that I am currently shooting on the new Canon Rebel T1i (available this fall). All the photos were and will be taken with that camera. It's a also to celebrate my new SLR classes on Kelbytraining.com (available now).

A-Depth is A-OK

Certain Canon cameras, including the T1i, offer an A-Depth mode. When the camera is set to this mode, it "sees" all the elements in the scene and picks the best focus point for good depth-of- field. It's an A-OK mode for quick snapshots.

For max depth-of-field for scenic photographs, here is what I do:
1) Use a wide-angle lens;
2) Select a small aperture;
3) Set the focus 1/3 into the scene.

I photographed this biplane at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in Upstate NY. A great place for fun - and fun photographs.

The top photo is the straight shot. I created the bottom photograph using Topaz Adjust. See my plug-in site for more info - and how-to tips.

Make pictures,
Rick