Monday, May 29, 2017

Photographing Level Horizons

Use a tripod. It helps keep your camera steady - in any position you select - so you can compose your picture more precisely.

    Some SLR cameras accept interchangeable viewfinder screens. A particularly useful one is the architectural-style grid, which comes with etched lines (both horizontal and vertical) that assist with lining up horizons and assorted other compositional references.

    A bubble level often tips you off to any tilting. Some tripods come equipped with a level; otherwise, an add-on accessory is available that slips onto the camera's flash shoe. But remember: Such a bubble is NOT foolproof (see next item).

    Trust your eye: On occasion, the horizon may not look right, even though the camera appears perfectly level ... and even though the bubble level confirms it. In those cases, you may need to actually slant the camera ever so slightly in order to keep the image visually level. I've found that this sort of thing happens most often with slightly sloping ridgelines, lakes that include opposite shorelines, and similar scenes ... so that even though, technically, these lines should slant a bit, they actually appear tilted in the photograph. Thus, levelling them out would be recommended!

    After composing your shot, perform this last-minute task: Check the viewfinder to see if things look "right." Specifically: Is there the same amount of sky AND the same amount of land (or sea) on each side of the picture frame?

Lastly: Think of these horizon-line suggestions as take-it-or-leave-it guidelines that you consider thoughtfully, not as hard-and-fast orders that you follow mindlessly. For example, intentionally "rocking the photographic boat" - i.e., with a severe slant - could result in a visually striking "diagonal" image!

About Author / Instructor / Photographer, Kerry Drager
Kerry Drager is a professional photographer, teacher and writer who is also the co-author of two books: The BetterPhoto Guide to Creative Digital Photography and The BetterPhoto Guide to Photographing Light. He has taught many photography courses (online and in person), seminars and field workshops.
Be sure to check out Kerry's website -

Friday, May 26, 2017

Few of us know how to capture strong emotion

Many of us know how to capture a good composition (there are tons of tutorials on the web about this).

However very few of us know how to capture strong emotion in a photograph.

To me, emotion is more important than composition in a frame. Why? Because emotion is what hits us in the gut, and burns itself into our memory. A photograph without emotion is dead.

Not only that, but as humans— we are emotionally-driven creatures. Anything that strikes fear, excitement, or novelty into our minds will be more memorable.

But what is the best way to capture emotion? Some suggestions:

    Hand-gestures: If your subject leaning their body against their fist? Is your subject scratching his chin? Is your subject giving you the middle-finger? Try not to photograph your subject with their hands just by their sides. Try to engage them to make an interesting hand-gesture by commenting on their face, hair, or bodily accessories. Or be patient and wait until your subject makes an interesting hand-gesture— then photograph.
     Body-language: Is your subject slouched over, or standing upright? Is your subject leaning towards someone, or leaning backwards? A person’s body-language shows a lot of their emotion, and inner-thoughts. Also as a tip, if you mimic the body language of another person, you can better empathize and feel their emotions.
     Eye contact: The saying: “Eyes are the windows to the soul” is very true. A photograph with strong eye contact can strike fear, excitement, or sensuality into our photographs. It is very difficult to make sustained eye-contact with someone else, that is why whenever we make a photograph with strong eye-contact, it tends to be more memorable. Experiment making photos with your subjects looking directly into the lens and away.
     Aesthetics: You can feel certain emotions in a photograph based on the aesthetics. For example, a black and white photograph will tend to feel more nostalgic, sad, and retrospective. A vibrant color photograph shows more excitement, joy, and has a more contemporary flavor. There is no “right” or “wrong” type of post-processing to use in your work — but know that the aesthetics of an image will affect the emotion.