Christmas Time! How to Photograph Lights

This is  a really great time of the year to get  unique and magical pictures of your kids.  One of the things that adds to the magic, is all the sparkly lights everywhere.   From the lights on the trees, to the neighbor’s vibrantly decorated yard, there are excellent festive backdrops for holiday pictures everywhere.  So why is it that when we try to photograph lights at night they disappear into the darkness?

What Usually Happens (what not to do!):

  1. We see a beautifully lit up scene and position our subject in front of this perfect Christmassy backdrop.
  2. We use our camera’s auto setting, the Auto Flash fires and the lights disappears into the background.

Here’s a shot I took at the weekend which demonstrates what happens when we use flash:

Auto Flash

It’s a perfectly exposed shot but we don’t really get a feeling of the atmosphere of the picture.  The background is beautifully lit by fairy lights but when the flash fires it throws the background into darkness.

How to Photograph Lights (do this instead)

So how to we accurately portray the scene as we see it?

  1. Simply set your camera to Night Scene Mode (the icon looks like a little man beside a moon and stars)
  2. Hold steady and shoot!

And here is the result:

Night Scene Flash

What happens in Night Scene mode is the shutter stays open for longer than normal so the ambient lighting in the background is exposed.  Then, the flash fires in order to expose your subject in the foreground.

The result is a well exposed subject and a perfectly exposed background .  So we get the overall festive feeling of the picture.

Some things to remember when using this mode:

  1. Only use when the background is lit up and the lights are to be part of the picture.
  2. Hold your camera extra steady – that slow shutter speed will result in camera shake if you don’t
  3. Only use for very still subjects.  My model was being unusually poised for this picture!
  4. If you have no subject (person) in shot you could try turning flash off altogether and raising your ISO

So go and find some cool illuminated backgrounds and take some Holiday pictures using Night Scene Mode.

Happy snapping!

P.S. This is a great method to use to photograph your Christmas tree and your living room when taking your picture for Capture the Magic!  Be sure to read my post on this great way to catch Santa in the Act!

Picture Gift Ideas for Mom

Gift Ideas for Mom

Gift Ideas for Mom

So I’ve eventually started my Christmas shopping this year and I’ve been scouring the internet for pressies. One of my sticking points every year is gift ideas for Mom. Being a photographer one of my “go-to” gifts for her is always of course Pictures!  She is usually inundated with photos of recent times and loves to look at them on her laptop, but we have heaps of old pictures that just sit upstairs in boxes and albums gathering dust.  It’s a shame that these pictures are now mostly forgotten. So when I found this idea by ScanDigital I was impressed.

How about getting them all together on a brand new digital photoframe?  All you have to do is ship off your old pics, negatives, slides, whatever you have to ScanDigital and they upload everything to a digital frame and send you everything back plus the preloaded frame and a DVD of all the images.

Perfect gift idea for Mom who has it all and it saves you from having to show her how to put stuff on the frame herself.  I also love the idea of putting old pics on display.  In this digital age they are  always forgotten about.

So get together some of your old pics and visit the ScanDigital website for more information.

But don’t delay! Deadline is December 14th!

Happy Snapping

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The Best Santa Picture without even leaving home

Gotcha! Santa in your living room!

Gotcha! Santa in your living room!

Most of you know that I’m the proud mom of a baby girl and this year I’m anticipating that Christmas will be even more fun than usual, having her around. I know I really should go and stand in line at the mall so she can get her first Santa picture but that doesn’t sound so appealing. So, since Santa will be paying us a visit this year I thought I would capture the event on camera on Christmas Eve.

How so I hear you say? You’ll never catch Santa in the act!

Well, thanks to a new website called Capture the Magic you can!  These guys help you get a picture of Santa in your very own living room.  You could even get a picture of him talking to the dog.

Set up your camera on Christmas Eve before the little ones head to bed and in the morning you have the proof of the pudding to show that the big man himself made an appearance.

Thrill your kids this Christmas! Catch Santa in YOUR house!

Continuous Shooting Mode – Learn a Mode Monday

Hi Guys,

For today’s Learn a Mode Monday I thought I’d try something a little different and post a video of how to use your continuous shooting mode.  This mode is perfect for capturing fast moving subjects like wildlife, athletes and 11 month old babies!

Check it out and let me know your thoughts!

  • So remember, for shooting fast moving objects look for your camera’s Continuous Shooting Mode button  Continuous Shooting Mode Button
  • Keep your finger fully depressed on the shutter button and capture all that action!

A great way to use up an entire memory card 😉

Here’s the Transcript of the video for those of you who like to read:

Hi everyone! Welcome to the 1st Camerashy  Learn a Mode Monday via video. This is an exciting day for me because this is the first time that I’ve ever done a video blog. Also I would like to give a special warm welcome to all my Facebook fans. Over the last number of days our numbers have actually doubled on Facebook so I’m super excited about that. I hope that I will be able to deliver all the good content that your guys are looking for.  In the meantime,  lets go over to the Learn a Mode Monday since it is Monday. Today’s mode is going to be continuous shooting mode. Now this is a good mode if you are at a sporting event and you want to catch fast movement or if your kid is just on the go like my little Sophie who is always moving all the time. I want to be able to just snap quickly as she moves along and not missing a shot. So what I use for that is I use my continuous shooting mode. You might have seen this on some of the more professional looking cameras but most compact cameras can actually do this feature as well.

I’ll show you first where it is on my Digital SLR  which is my Canon so that I can show you where the mode is. First of all I’ll have to turn it on at the top  and the mode is usually at the back of the camera that usually has a symbol like a stack of papers.

Holding up closer, this one is just there. So all I do to select that is to turn on the continuous shot mode. Usually with most cameras you have to scroll through a couple of different modes to get the one that you want. If you are  looking for that little icon like the stack of papers which I’ll be posting so you will know what it looks like under this blog.

All you do is keep your finger on the button while you’re shooting. So it’s just a matter of snapping. All I do is to continually keep my finger pressed down on the button. The method of doing it if you are at a sports event is to keep your focus onto what you are looking at.  Keep your fingers on the button  and you should move the camera and follow the actions along. That action is called Panning and we will probably talk about that in another blog.

On the compact camera, it’s the same exact icon. At least it is for the Canon cameras and most cameras have the similar thing. And for this Canon, it is the shortcut button on my particular camera – it is the little stack of papers symbol that you can actually see better than  on the  Digital SLR.

So that’s Continuous  Shot Mode or Continuous Shooting Mode. Remember you keep you fingers pressed on that button and you will never miss any of the action.  Thank you very much for tuning in to my latest blog cast. Hopefully I can keep them coming so keep snappin’! =)

Keep snapping!

Ingrid

Flash Photography Tips at the Pumpkin Patch

Fill Flash

Fill Flash

It’s Pumpkin time! And of course what does one do if one has both a baby and a pumpkin?  You sit on on top of the other of course!  Well, in my case the baby won’t stay on the pumpkin and tries to eat everything around her in the great outdoors – grass, gravel, bugs…(she doesn’t get outside much.)  So for my pumpkin picture we had to have daddy in the frame too.

It was quiet a gloomy day in Smyrna, so check out the two photos below to see what happens when I used my “Fill Flash.”

This first picture was taken in Auto Mode and as we were outside the camera detected that no flash was necessary.

No Flash Used

No Flash Used

But I know better than my camera!!!

Fill in flash Used

The second picture is so much more vibrant and bright.  I did this by simply switching my Flash to “on” or “Fill-in” so that it will fire outside. this is one of my top flash photography tips!  This give just enough light to brighten up the shadows on my subjects’ faces and adds a bit of sparkle in their eyes.

To do this…

  • First, find your Flash button (usually denoted by a “lightening strike”  Flash Icon ) and a “shortcut” button on the back of your camera.
  • Select Fill In flash from your flashy type choices – Usually denoted by the” lightening strike” symbol again.  This will ensure that your Flash will fire regardless of lighting conditions that the camera senses.
  • Don’t forget that you have to be within about 3 to 4 feet of your subject, otherwise the flash effect will be lost.

So no need to worry if it’s not the perfect Fall day when you have your trip to the pumpkin patch – Use Fill-in Flash!

Welcome to Beginners Photography Blog!

Are you trying to get to grips with a new digital SLR? Are you trying to get a handle on photography basics without the waffle and jargon of those high brow forums? Welcome to Beginners Photography Blog! You’ve found a place where there is no such thing as a stupid question and we are all learning together. I’ve been teaching photography in the “real world” for over 10 years and been involved in the photographic industry for the past 20yrs. I love helping people get the most out of their cameras and improve their photography easily, sometimes by just knowing which mode to use! This blog will help you do that and more!

Beginners Photography - Welcome

Beginners Photography - Welcome

In my experience I’ve found that although there is a ton of photography information out there online, it can be sometimes difficult for a beginner in photography to know were to begin.  Maybe you can’t be bothered with that manual or perhaps you can’t make head nor tail what that camera icon is – I promise I’ve got you covered! Beginners Photography blog is a great place to get lots of tips and tricks that will help make your pictures pop without having to know the intricate workings of your camera!

So if you’ve already begun to learn photography or if you’re just thinking about buying a Digital SLR,  subscribe to our RSS feed to be sure you don’t miss any secret tips of the trade!

Black and White Photography

At a family gathering this weekend I was reminded of the beauty of black and white photography. Instead of the usual family snapshots of people posing , fakey smiles and bright colors, our efforts were rewarded with a set of timeless pictures where we are not distracted by fashion or fads and the true personalities of our subjects can shine. A lot of times we forget how beautiful Black and White can be, choosing instead the “reality” of color. I have to be honest and say that in the past I’ve kept Black and White for Landscapes and Scenery and the odd posed portrait shot. So think about using this mode for an unusual twist on what could otherwise be another set of snapshots.

Black and White mode can be found on most cameras within the scene mode menu. Look for BW icon or a color mode. I feel it works best in situations where you can forgo flash so if your inside, turn off your flash and push up your ISO to 400 or 800.

If you’d prefer you can desaturate the color from your images after they have been taken by using a photo manipulation program such as Adobe Photoshop Elements or Picasa 3. This will certainly give you more control over the black and white effect you apply but can sometimes be quite laborious if you have several shots to work on.

Learn a Mode Monday – Discovering Landscape Mode

Beginners Photography

Landscape Mode

Since it is now the middle of summer and thoughts of vacations with pretty scenery and breathtaking views are all around, this week I thought we could talk a little about Landscape Mode. Landscape photography is one of the most rewarding types of photography and the easiest to achieve astounding results, as mother nature has usually done most of the hard work for us!

This mode is usually denoted by a symbol representing a mountain range and is sometimes called infinity mode. When we set our cameras to to Landscape mode the focus will switch to focusing at infinity and the lens will be set to a narrow aperture so that when taking a landscape shot, all of the scene will remain in focus (i.e. have a deep depth of field). This may result in a slow shutter speed being used, so wherever possible, use a tripod for a steady sharp shot.

In some digital cameras, using landscape mode will actually put a filter on your images to enhance blue skies and make green grass greener thus helping to make your scenic shots pop!

Landscape Mode

Landscape Mode

Use this mode when you are trying to capture a wide cityscape or a beautiful vista from your hotel balcony and you won’t be disappointed! You’ll bring back some pictures for your home well worthy of a mat and a frame which will serve as a great reminder of your awesome vacation.

Much better than those tacky souvenirs now isn’t it?

Top tip: Try capturing landscapes at different times of the day for really stunning shots – early morning and evening light make great pictures and are well worth the extra effort!

Scanning made Easy!

If your are like me you have boxes and boxes of old family photos stacked up in the attic, which are just gathering dust! This has recently become an issue in my house when I wanted to compare my new daughter’s pictures with my own baby photos and I was faced with a daunting climb into the attic only to find I’d have to wade through boxes and boxes before finding any gems. Wouldn’t it have been easier to do a quick search on my laptop? Absolutley but who wants to spend hours on end scanning all those pictures at home? The thought of it makes me break out in a cold sweat!

Then I came across ScanDigital. They offer a fab service where you just ship off a box of pics and they do the rest, sending you back your precious originals, a CD and an online webalbum so you can share with the rest of the family! Check them out by clicking the link below and use the following coupon code for an even better deal! Coupon Code: 1835157191

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