Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Photo Gathering and Editing #3
Taking Good Photos
Taking good pictures is a difficult job. There's a reason that we pay professionals to take pictures for us - they have the time and training to think about lighting, framing, composition, f-stop, mega-pixels, and all the other photo-type-stuff involved in snapping great images.
But there are a few things you can do to snap some great shots of your own.
1. Lighting - there are a couple issues involved in lighting a picture well. First, think about the source of the light - is it behind your subject or in front of your subject? Usually it's a good idea to take a picture where your light is in front of your subject. Also think about the amount of light - a dark scene can be hard to see, but a flash might wash out the details. Some cameras have an intelligent mode that will detect a scene with difficult lighting and take two pictures, one with and one without the flash.
2. Composition - how is your picture framed in the shot? A well composed picture tends to rely on the rule of thirds. So a landscape will usually have the horizon in the bottom third or the top third. A portrait will have the subject in the left third, the middle third, or the right third. You might notice that good images aren't dead-center and balanced. They employ some imbalance for nice artistic effect.
In the picture of the mountain I framed the horizon of the sky in the top third and the edge of the meadow in the bottom third and the peak of the mountain in the right third. I think in turned out nicely.
3. Cropping - one of the best things about digital photography is that you can take a bunch of shots and not have to worry about wasting film and then when you get home you can fix any mistakes you made. Learning how to crop well can cover a multitude of photographic sins. You can fix your composition with a good crop or change a picture from a nice shot to a great shot.
One thing to consider when taking pictures that you might use in your presentations is that you want a descent amount of "white space" which just means empty space not filled up with something. In the pictures below you can see two crops - one emphasizes the flower, the other leave a lot of empty space. The second crop is a lot better for PowerPoint because it leaves you a lot more room to work with if you want to insert text.