Holiday photos

One Great Shot - To Zoo or not to Zoo

One of the great mistakes people make when taking photos is to took out the window and think, “Great it’s sunny, lets go outside.” Bright sunshine is one of the worst types of light to shoot people in. It can of course be done and done well, but unless you have pro lighting and several assistants it’s not going to work well. But what if you don’t have a choice?

Read More

Today’s ordinary is tomorrow’s extraordinary.

Today’s ordinary is tomorrow’s extraordinary.

Our real memories of our lives are not made up of the good moments. We may try to forget for the most part the sad or tragic events. Our ‘real’ moments are made up of those times in between events. Certainly we’ll remember a good birthday party when we were a child or a great family holiday - but most of our best memories will consist of the ordinary. 

Read More

Stormy Weather? Grab Your Camera.

Stormy Weather? Grab Your Camera.

Good weather is not the same as good photography weather. Bright sunshine around midday is probably the worst light to shoot in and stormy weather that might see you running home from work to beat the rain is actually great photography light. 

Read More

How do you get good shots in bad weather?

How do you get good shots in bad weather?

The worst thing about vacation photos in dull weather is the sky. A stormy or rainy sky can work great but there is nothing you can do about a blanket white overcast sky. Everything will look dull no matter what you do and it can’t be ‘fixed’ in Photoshop. So don’t shoot the sky. Aim your camera downwards to exclude or minimise it and concentrate on your family and the environment. 

Read More

Improve Your Portraits with One Simple Change

I often get asked for advice on what camera to buy my first questions is “What camera do you have?” It’s usually a pretty good camera and the desire to improve one’s photography will rarely be with a new camera. Almost any camera bought in the last five years is going to take high quality photos. However most people still have the kit lens that came with the camera attached and therein lies the problem.

Stop right there! Don’t scroll to the next article! I’m not going to persuade you to invest your children’s college fund in gear acquisition. It turns out for portraits and general photography one of the best lenses you can buy is also the cheapest - the ubiquitous 50mm f/1.8 lens. And every camera brand produces one.

The 50mm gives you a natural view, not too wide and not too tight. Great for every shot from full figure to head and shoulder portraits depending on how much space you have. 

The 50mm gives you a natural view, not too wide and not too tight. Great for every shot from full figure to head and shoulder portraits depending on how much space you have. 

Why 50mm?

Historically it was the standard lens on film cameras so 50mm lenses have been produced for so long they are very high quality and inexpensive. 50mm is the closest to how the human eye sees (it’s precisely 42mm if you love acuracy) and this gives photos a very real and natural feeling. There is no wide angel distortion or telephoto compression for effect, very useful for portraits.

No funky business here. Just a nice natural normal view of a train ride.

No funky business here. Just a nice natural normal view of a train ride.

Why is f/1.8 Useful?

For portraits the person in the frame is always your main subject. F/1.8 gives you a blurred background allowing you to isolate your subject from any busy environment while still allowing the atmosphere to form part of the image. It’s useful when shooting in modern busy locations that we often find ourselves and our families in. F/4.5 or even f/5.6 which is typical of kit or cheap zoom lenses will give you a very sharp and distracting background that will take attention away from your subject.

f/1.8 helps the subject stand out from the background and gives the environment more of an atmospheric role in the photo.

f/1.8 helps the subject stand out from the background and gives the environment more of an atmospheric role in the photo.

The wide aperture is also very useful for shooting in dark environments such as indoors or at night. Again a frequent feature for family snaps and day trips. This will allow for cleaner and sharper photos with less noise which kills skin tones.

f/1.8 can help you get nice clean shots in low light environments such as restaurants.

f/1.8 can help you get nice clean shots in low light environments such as restaurants.

It’s A Great Carry Around Lens.

50mm lenses are small and light which makes them great to carry around all day long on holidays or weekends. They turn a cumbersome DSLR and heavy zoom into something that you don’t dread taking with you or even have to think twice about. It can fit in a small bag and not strain you shoulder garter a full day of carrying about. I almost always have this in my bag unless I’m planning something special.

A small setup (camera and lens combo) will make sure you carry your camera with you more often and grab a beautiful unexpected moment even on a simple Sunday walk.

A small setup (camera and lens combo) will make sure you carry your camera with you more often and grab a beautiful unexpected moment even on a simple Sunday walk.

Who would not want to capture a portrait of a dastardly evil hound or maybe just a nice dog with great mascara.

Who would not want to capture a portrait of a dastardly evil hound or maybe just a nice dog with great mascara.

Does this lens do everything?

Well of course not. While it’s a great versatile lens it has it limitations. You won’t be able to shoot wide vistas or zoom in to far away to catch details. And where portraits are concerned the distance you need to focus from the subject may prevent you from getting a tight head shot. But you can always crop the subject later. Some lenses do offer macro ability allowing you to get very close. But it still remains the most versatile lens for photographing people on the go. And what’s more important is that you will carry it with you far more often and therefore shoot more. And that’s what matters most.

 

IMG_0140.JPG

Technical Stuff.

Every camera brand offers a cheap 50mm f/1.8 (or equivalent*) lens for their system. They will also offer f/1.4 or even f/1.2 versions but they are far more expensive and heavier. 

*If you own a full frame camera then you should buy a 50mm f/1.8. If you own a camera with an APS-C size sensor then you should look for around a 35mm focal length to get the same view. And if you have a Micro 4/3 camera such as an Olympus or Panasonic then you should buy around a 25mm lens.

It’s impractical to build a full database for this article of all the lenses currently available so if you’re not sure then just leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you with suggestions.

Vicious Attack Ends Photoshoot!

Vicious Attack Ends Photoshoot!

We chose to arrive late which would allow me nice late afternoon sunlight which is excellent for portraits, and it wouldn’t be too hot to be outdoors either. A sweaty family is not a happy family and doesn’t make for great portraits either. 

Read More