Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Portrait Photography

Portrait Photography
by Danielle Lancaster from Bluedog Photography

Lenses: long lenses for a compressed DOF
Wider lenses for a more dramatic portrait but the can distort the scene or the subject
The choice comes really comes down to what sort of portrait photography you wish to do.
My two favourite words are it depends.
In each of the images below the subject and photographer have stayed in the same place and distant – all that has changed is the focal length. This show how choosing a lens is important for what you wish to achieve.
f:8 18mm at 200mm               f:8 18mm at 18mm    

To Blur a background:
Use a large aperture (small number)
A longer focal length (the longer the more blur)
Move your subject away from the background
Other Accessories:
Lens hood
Polariser filter
Reflectors and diffusers
Cable release/remote (only in some situations)

Get off Auto – even P mode and keep the ISO as low as you can. I suggest 200.
Watch that shutter speed!

Always have the eye closest to the camera sharp.

Look at the light.
Know how to use your flash – it is another tool in our kits.
Backgrounds should complement not compete with your subject.
Separate your subjects head and shoulders from other objects like the horizon.
Become a people’s person – communicate with your subject.
Do a variety of shots.
Alter your perspective.
Add props – make sure they are relevant.
Shoot vertically, horizontally and on an angle.
Be prepared for the unexpected!

Tel. 0428 715 310

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Next Meeting Monday 24 April - 11.00am

Hi Members,

Welcome to a new term. We meet again next Monday. Remember the challenge for the Show and Tell. Send us two photos showing two different DOFs (Depth of Field) from our discussion at the last meeting.

The main topic on Monday. presented by Diane, will be HOW TO TELL A STORY WITH PHOTOGRAPHS. By now you would know that Diane's mantra is: “A good photo should evoke emotion, tell a story and engage the viewer.”

On Monday she will discuss how to tell a story with one photo or with two or more photos. It is not enough to have perfect composition, light, focus and all the other technical skills. We must strive to engage the viewer by getting them hooked on the visual story.


Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Photo Basics

by Mervyn Amos

I have been interested in photography since I was in high school and initially used and old box brownie that belonged to my mother.
In 1969 I was a draftsman working at Mary Kathleen Uranium mine in NW Qld. So I decided to take up photography as a hobby and I bought my first SLR – a Praktica IV with a 50mm and a 135mm lens. It was totally manual. It gave me a good grounding in photography.
B & W film was readily available and could be processed by the local chemist or yourself. The only colour film was Kodachrome slide film. (I think this was ISO 25 or 50.
This was processed by mailing in to Kodak in Melbourne.

Today we can try things and see results on camera screen immediately. Only delete the photos that are obviously wrong.

(out of focus, camera shake etc.). Wait until you see photos on a computer as many photos can be recovered with a photo editor.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Adding a Sense of Motion Improves your Photos

You may want to sharply focus on subjects in the foreground, you may want to blur certain elements in the image or you may want to freeze everything depending on the purpose of the photo.

Freeze Action
Blur Subject

Blur Background

You may just want to convey movement but there are other purposes like conveying mood. For example: the wildness of wind in the trees, crashing waves or roaring waterfalls; the excitement of a football match or a bicycle race; the bustling of a street scene, the happiness of a toddler or dog running, or the serenity of leaves falling.

So how do we do this?

 Most people know that to capture fast moving objects we need to use a fast shutter speed but there are other tricks to learn:
·      Shutter speed
·      Panning
·      Zooming
·      Timing
·      Location/Perspective
·      Composition
·      Focus
·      Crono-Photography
·      Practice

Shutter Speed 

Freezing the action captures the motion in a single moment. A super fast shutter speed like 1/1600th will freeze the action and works well in sunlight but it could darken the photo in low light. 1/250th will also freeze the action. You can also increase the ISO to let in more light but that could also cause noise.
Freezing the entire field is good for capturing more than one subject like a bird flying in front of a waterfall.

Blur the subject and keep the background sharp instantly communicates that the subject is moving quickly. To do this you need a slow shutter speed and a very steady hand but better still use a tripod. This technique is often used at night to capture headlights moving through the image. It is also used to make water look like it is moving. But it can also be used for moving people and animals. A slow shutter speed will let more light in so the photo may be overexposed. You need to adjust the speed and check the ISO is a low number.


This is where you use a slow shutter speed and move the camera at the same speed, as the moving object to keep it in focus but the background will be blurry to create the feeling of speed. It also removes any background distractions and makes the subject stand out.
Wherever possible use a wide aperture to give a narrow depth of field, which also helps to make, the subject stand out from the blurry background.
Start with 1/30th speed and then try to get slower.
It is easier on a flat surface and standing parallel to the action where you can judge where the subject is going to be.
Try to position yourself where there aren’t too many background distractions. Single colours or a plain background is best.
Track the subject smoothly. A monopod could help. Continue to pan after you have taken the shot.
Use automatic focus tracking.
Experiment with shutter speeds. You need to think about:
·      How fast is the subject moving
·      The distance between camera and the subject
·      How much motion do you want to convey
This is not easy to do. You will get a lot of duds but with practice you will get some keepers.

Blur everything

Sometimes it is effective to blur the whole image to show chaotic motion. This is usually used for an artistic look. Capturing motion is part technique and part art.


You can add the sense of motion by zooming during exposure. Focus and lock, use of the back button is beat. Press shutter button and physically rotate the zoom lens. Try two different ways: Pause and zoom quickly or zoom slowly and pause at the end. This technique is good for night shots and lights.


When taking shots of a field sport find a “sweet spot”, the perfect distance away for your lens. You can’t get all of the action all over the field. Be patient and get what comes into your sweet spot.
It is best to get players coming towards you so that you can see their faces and capture expressions. Bring the viewer in close. Use a zoom lens 70-200mm. Memorable sports shots show faces with expressions of joy or agony.
Use a different perspective. Getting low down adds drama. It makes athletes look bigger and more heroic. It also gives a better sense of setting and action.


Timing is everything. Anticipate the action. You can use ‘burst’ or ‘continuous’ shooting but don’t rely on it and use it all the time. You will have hundreds of photos to sort through for a good one. Don’t waste time by ‘chimping’ that is checking all the time in the LCD screen you may miss the best shot of all. Focus on getting the shot.


Use composition rules to help create a sense of motion in photos. Have more active space than dead space. Try to have the moving object moving into the scene not out of it. (Remember rules can be broken for effect.
Don’t forget to use different angles, especially down low for moving objects to look bigger and more powerful.
Backgrounds can be blurred to avoid distracting objects in the background especially spectators.
To make the focal point stand out use a slow shutter speed to blur a moving object behind the subject. Focus on the subject.


Perfect settings, timing, composition won’t count for anything if you mess up the focus.  Manual focus is too slow for fast moving objects. Automatic focus, using the shutter button is also cumbersome as the camera wants to lock onto other objects like spectators or advertisements so consider using the back button for focusing. It gives you more control and frees up the shutter button to do its other jobs.
Back button focusing. Cameras have a dizzying array of automatic focal points, which are good, but you don’t have time to fiddle with them with fast moving subjects. By using a separate button you can do a lot more with your photographs. If your camera has an AF-ON button use it. If not read your manual, which will tell you how to use one of your other buttons.
By using the back button you no longer have to hunt for the right auto focus point or wait for the camera to focus on the right place. Trying to keep the moving subject in focus with the shutter button is difficult. It easier to focus with the back button whether it is: people, animals, cars, or a petal in the wind.
Use the centre focus point to focus on the subject then release your thumb and recompose, it’s faster than autofocus and you can take the shot when you want. Or you can hold the back button down to continually adjust the focus and press the shutter to snap photos when you want.
Focus Modes- Manual, Single shot and Continuous. Using the back button does all three just by moving your thumb.
Manual.  Take your thumb off the back button and focus by rotating the lens. (Make sure your lens is set to MF)
Single. (AF-S Nikon/ One Shot Canon) Press your thumb on the back button until your camera is in focus, and then lift your thumb up to keep the focus locked until you press the button again.
Continuous.  Hold your thumb on the back button as long as you want, forcing your camera to continually adjust until you take the picture. You must be using Continuous focus mode for this to work (AF-C Nikon/ Al Servo Canon)
Another focus trick is to Pre Focus on a spot where you know the subject will be.

Crono- Photography

A different way to add a sense of motion to your image is to use your ‘burst’ or ‘continuous’ feature on your camera to take a sequence of shots of the moving subject and then stitch them together with a post-processing program.


Adding motion to your photos can be fun but frustrating. It takes a lot of practice, practice, and practice. Approach it with an experimental attitude. Mix up your shots if you are at an event. Shoot some with a fast shutter speed to freeze the action. Shoot some with a blurry background. Shoot some with a blurry subject. Shoot some from a different perspective. Try to catch expressions up close. Your whole shot may be blurry but this can add to the shot sometimes.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Reignite Your Motivation

Taking photos is an exciting and creative pursuit but sometimes you get stuck in a rut, lose our mojo and lack inspiration and motivation. You get tired or bored with your own images. It happens to all photographers at one time or another.
Anthony Epes believes this happens because we are immersed in habit. You do almost the same things everyday.  Make your coffee the same way at the same time every day. Do the same activities every week, eat the same food every week, it is almost like you stop thinking and just do.
“As long as habit and routine dictate the pattern of living, new dimensions of the soul will not emerge” – Henry van Dyke (American author, educator and clergyman.)
Habit makes life easier for you. You don’t have to make loads of different decisions everyday. But if you are lost in habit you aren’t seeing new things, doing new things, trying new things in new ways. Habit will strangle your creativity.

The way to get of this cycle will be different for different people but here are some tips to try to reignite your motivation, inspiration and creativity:

Leave your camera at home

If you are someone who carries their camera everywhere and just take shot after shot it is likely that you will get bored with your shots.
Start looking at the world in a different way. What do you hear, smell, and feel? Use all your senses not just sight which photographers use all the time. Use all your senses and absorb the atmosphere around you to help you gain a different perspective.
Challenge: When you are ready to start taking photos again, set yourself the challenge of taking just three photos a day, for 15 days. If this sounds hard, then it’s the perfect challenge! This will help you be more precise and thoughtful in your approach. You will work harder to create a smaller number of better photos. So – what will you take with your three images?

Make it a habit to take lots of photos

If you are someone who doesn’t take photos very often then do the opposite.  You won’t develop creativity. You need to practice and practice to develop the skills of really seeing the world and composing great images. The act of creating is like a muscle the more you do it the stronger it becomes. By making a habit of taking photos and being creative gets your body and mind prepared to be creative, it energizes you into new and exciting ways.

Challenge: If getting into the habit of taking photos is tough for you, then this is the challenge for you – take 50 photos every day, for 15 days. That will kick start your creativity, and imbue your day with the looking and seeing and noticing that is necessary to take great photos.

Enjoy taking photos

Don’t just think about what the result will be but enjoy the actual process of taking the photo like a child enjoys feeling the texture of things before they create a piece of art or craft. Get totally in the zone. Look with wonder at your subject, absorb yourself in the beauty, wildness, peace and craziness of the world. Cut yourself off from your day-to-day problems.

Start a project

When your life is busy and we don’t get a lot of time for photo shoots it is a good idea to start a project.  See the link above for ideas. Choose something you are passionate about . It could be anything, kids, pets, trees, and men with tattoos or the colour red. It is not so much about technique but more about passion.
When you get in a rut you are less likely to abandon a project that you are passionate about.
Passion will drive you to create new perspective on your subject.
When you feel something when you are taking a photo you are likely to evoke emotion in the viewer too.  Remember the best photos evoke emotion, tell a story and engage the viewer.

Do something completely different

Get out of the habit of photographing the same subject matter. Think of something that you’d be terrified to photograph and go and do it. It may be street photography or close up portraits. It might be asking permission to take a photo or to enter a building and climb on the roof for an overall shot of the city. If this makes you nervous then go for it.

Don't worry about being perfect

Often we stop taking photos or give up because we feel our work is not good enough. Who cares if some of your photos are not perfect? Its crazy stopping doing something you love. Recognize that you have a fear but don’t let it stop you. Ignore the output and focus on what you see. Follow things that spark your interest. I have a fear of asking strangers for a photo but I have a passion for street photography and want to improve it.

With the first shot I was so nervous and I had the wrong setting so the DOF is all wrong and in my hurry not to detain them too long I managed to cut off their feet. The second time I managed to get the feet but I’m still not happy with the background but I guess that is street photography and the decisive moment.

Get inspiration indirectly

Fill your life with creative inspiration of anything that moves you, be it music, art, books or poetry. Remind yourself what being excited and creative feels like. Remember how you felt when you did capture that great shot rather than thinking you will never take another good photo.

I loved this elephant at the Art Gallery. Up close I could see the intricate pattern of dots that had been stuck on.

Why do you take photos?

Anthony Epes says,” It can be easy with your photography to get into that should way of thinking – “I should take more photos! I should be better!” But scolding yourself rarely gets you anywhere (with anything). Instead, I encourage you to think about what photography really means to you, what are the benefits beyond the fun of taking that photo. How does it enrich, energize and enhance your life?”
Ask yourself, “What does photography give me?
How do I want to be creative?
Which of my photos am I really proud of?

Photos with meaning

Adam Crawford’s article in a recent DPS newsletter, says similar things about being on a plateau with your photography. You have acquired the technical skills but something is missing….substance, meaning, emotional connection and finding your own style.
He has similar suggestions on how to ignite creativity to Anthony Epes. Crawford says,

Mimicry is the best form of flattery. Try to shoot in the style of your favorite photographer.  You will be cued into their vision, which will inspire your own creative insights. Just like surgeons learn from other doctors so it is with photography, it’s on the job training.
You need to learn different styles and then you will start to see your own style peeping through, because you have learnt to create your own vision by studying those whose work you like.
He also advocates taking up a challenge.  Get peers to critique. It will give you helpful advice and a thick skin. 

My Favourite photographer is Karen Larsen. (Manukau NZ left)
My mimicry (Grand Canyon right)

John Davenport says,

Self critique can help improve your photography

Learning how to constructively critique your own photography can not only help you make better photographs each time you pick up a camera, but it will also build your confidence as a photographer, and prepare you for the inevitable critiques from your peers and colleagues.
You have learnt the technical skills for a good shot but in the heat of the moment technique will often slip. You should notice this and correct it. You may find that you have a common fault like forgetting to check settings, wrong DOF, or it doesn’t capture emotion.
To talk about a photograph either what makes it good or what could be improved can improve your photography. You will start fine-tuning for a better shot while in the field.
Self criticism will prepare you for what others might say and you will be able to defend the choices and style.

He was self critiquing in the field by checking the LCD screen and retrying.

Meditative composition

 Adam Crawford also suggests just sit and wait for the decisive moment. Absorb the atmosphere and capture a special moment by composing and waiting.

Evoke emotion

Crawford talks about equivalence a term used describing Alfred Stieglitz work where he said his photos were more than a capture of reality but they were emotionally connected to him whether it was geometric patterns or people.
Photographic meaning isn’t a literal translation of an image. Instead, it is a way in which you use your voice or perspective, to create a work that doesn’t need to be explained, which also evokes something/anything in the viewer. Try to do this to improve your work.

Tell a story

You can tell a story in a single image or in a sequence of shots. To tell a story is the same as photographing with meaning.  Try doing this to get back some inspiration and motivation.

Photograph close to home

James Maher ‘s article tells us how trying to be creative with photography around your own home will help improve your photography. He says,
I am told fairly frequently by photographers and students that they cannot, or do not feel like, photographing where they live. “It’s too boring” they say, or “There’s nothing interesting to photograph. I only do my photography when I travel.
This is great of course, as passion for travel and photography go hand in hand, and it’s often when people do their best work. But, thinking that way can also make you miss the whole point of photography.
Challenge: Spend a few weeks photographing areas near your home. Go for a walk in a different direction each day and at a different time each day. Even go to the most uninteresting area and figure out how to take an interesting shot. You may think the area is banal or boring but to someone living elsewhere would not. Try to think like them.
Good photographers have learned how to make interesting photographs anywhere. They don’t take anything for granted. This is the skill to that goes to the heart of being a good photographer.

Look at the work of William Eggleston

Valerie Jardin gives tips on how to get over Photographer’s block. They include many I have mentioned but they are good reminders:

Push yourself take risks and make mistakes.

Experiment with different genres and techniques don’t be afraid to fail.

I tried to capture store holder selling chocolate but failed. I tried to capture welding sparks but failed to keep the camera still.

Get out of your comfort zone.

Try street photography and photographing strangers.

Spend time with Photographers

Get together with other photographers join a photo walk group

Take a class

Participate in a workshop, a physical class or an online class.

I was taught about metering on a photographic safari in New Orleans.

Seek Inspiration

Immerse yourself in something beautiful. Visit museums, art galleries or pick up a book or magazine of photograph artists. Look up photographers on line. Look for composition, emotion and a story.

Get lost on purpose

Don’t think about what you are going to shoot just get out with your camera something will trigger your photographic eye.

Pick a theme

Leaving your house with a theme in mind will help you keep focused. It might be the colour yellow, reflections, or dogs

Start a project

Commit to a long term project such as 52 weeks or a weekly blog meme or join a facebook photography group like iPhotomagic  or our very own  camera club photo blog.

Rod Holmes Camera Club Photo Blog                Noelene Berg iphotomagic fb group  

Try new gear,

Try using a different lens or maybe a fun thing like a fisheye lens. Experiment with phone apps.

I experimented with camera effects.

Valerie’s conclusion

It’s okay to take a little break too! Remember that creativity is a process, not a result. A creative block is not something to fear. It is part of being an artist.