11 Simple Secrets to Better Pictures –
I found this a few years ago and found it most helpful, enjoy 🙂
All right. Very good. Like Katie said, my name is Andre Costantini and I’m a professional photographer and even make movies from to time. Today, we’re going to go over the 11 Simple Secrets to Better Pictures Seminar. You’ll get at least 11 and maybe 12, we’ll see how it goes. The first thing that I wanted to discuss is this idea of creating images with impact. I think no matter what type of pictures that you like to take and wherever your photography leads, it’s always your goal to do this. Whether or not you’re conscious or not if that’s what your goal is. Because you want to take a picture and then show it to someone and they go, “Wow. That was pretty good.” Because then you know that you’ve done your job effectively. Now, obviously, it’s important for all of you to be able to make pictures that you’re proud of but there’s always something nice about you can make and say, “Well, that’s exactly what I wanted,” and then the rest of the world also starts to take a look at that and agrees with you. “Oh, that’s good.”
There’s something nice about that. It’s our goal to be able to understand how to create these images with impact. The first thing I wanted to discuss is, what exactly is the criteria for that. What does that mean? We can collectively agree that we all want to make pictures that have impacts that we like, that we’re proud of, that other people also resonate with. What does that mean? It can mean different things because photography isn’t strictly technical, it isn’t strictly art, it isn’t strictly lighting, it’s not just being creative or style or composition but it’s the combination of all these things working together. Sometimes some are more important than others that come together to be able to create this type of image. First thing I want to do is to show you a couple of images. Now, all of these images that I’m showing you now were all made by photographers presumably just like you. Because these came in for a photo contest that Tamron ran a couple years ago called Make Your Mark.
Wow. I wish I could take a picture like that.
One could interpret that anyway that they want and people submitted all these types of great images. Now, you might look at some of these pictures and say, “Well, I could do a better job than that. Well, I have a better picture than that.” Or you might look it and say, “Wow. I wish I could take a picture like that.” It really depends where in your skill level and in your career with photography you are. Now, of course, there’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to get the image you want. When you know that you have this great lens and this great camera and it has all of the capabilities to do exactly what you want and yet, you’re not able to make it quite work. What I’m going to do today is go over all of these different styles and ways of looking at some of the technical sides of photography and then some of the artistic and lighting sides of photography.
Hopefully, depending on where your skill level is, then you’ll be able to resonate and walk out of here better photographers, because that ultimately is my goal. Is to empower you with the knowledge to make the pictures that you want to make. The first I want to talk about is something very technical. By a show of hands, how many people use the auto or green box mode of their camera? Okay. You can admit it. There’s nothing wrong. There’s no judgement here. At least by me, by your peers. P or programme mode, maybe, no. Aperture priority mode, shutter priority mode, and manual mode. Okay, very good, very good. All of these different modes are created to do different things. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the green box auto mode if it’s going to give you the results that you want. However often because it’s making all of the decisions for you, it doesn’t know what you’re thinking. Despite the fact it’s designed to help you, in some cases, it may not.
How to use a flash
For example, if you’re using the auto mode of your camera or the green box mode and if we were to try to take a picture in here right now and I already take a picture of this gentleman here. I’m sure the first thing that would happen is the flash would pop up. Now, if I didn’t want the flash to pop-up, I put it down, I try to take a picture again and the flash would pop up. Because in the auto mode, the camera doesn’t think there’s enough light for you to be able to successfully handhold and take a picture. The camera maybe correct but first of all, if I’m on a tripod, the camera wouldn’t know that and it doesn’t know what my vision is. It just knows what it’s been programmed to do. If you’re one of those people that uses the green box auto mode almost exclusively, if you move down just to that P or programme mode, now, the default is still going to be very similar to auto expect that flash isn’t automatically going to pop-up.
In addition to that, you’ll be able to start to make some decision. If you want to add the flash, then you push the button, put it and it will pop up. If you want to change your aperture, you can change that. Then, the corresponding shutter speed will match it as well. It gives you some more control. If you then move to the aperture priority mode, what happens is you’re picking the aperture and the camera is picking the shutter speed to give you what it thinks is the correct exposure and most of the time, it’s right. In the shutter priority or time value if you’re a Canon shooter, what’s happening is your camera is allowing you to pick the shutter speed and it’s picking a corresponding aperture. Now, the problem with the shutter priority mode is that, if you say, “I would like to shoot this at 8,000th of a second,” and there’s not enough light, it’ll still shoot at 8,000th of a second but you’re going to have an underexposed or probably pretty dark picture.
The relationship between the shutter and the aperture
If you understand the relationship between the shutter and the aperture, which is if this is a fixed amount of light, as you change one, the other needs to change as well to keep that amount of light fixed. The goal is to really be able to understand that if you use aperture priority mode at the widest aperture that you have, you’re always going to get the fastest possible shutter speed that there is. For example, if you are using this 70 to 202.8 lens and you had it wide open at 2.8, then the fastest shutter speed that you can get is going to be at 2.8 because the most light is coming in. Consequently, that will be the fastest shutter. Then of course, there is the manual mode where it allows you to control both of those things. Now, keep in mind that when you’re looking at in your camera and even if you have it in the manual mode, the camera’s metre is always working. It’ll tell you what it thinks and it could be right or it could be wrong.
If you are apprehensive to use manual mode because you feel like you don’t know enough, keep in mind that the camera is still always telling you what it think. You can use that as a guideline to give you a little bit more control. Next, I want to shift gears a little bit and I want to talk about a couple of different concepts. One of them has the idea of looking and then if you walk into this room, the first thing you do is maybe look around. Then maybe something catches your eye and then you start to see something and you really start to focus. Seeing is a deeper concept than looking. Because look is just an awareness of the scene but when you start to see something, then there’s some element that you take interest in. Then, as a photographer, you try to create something. If you walk into a room and you see something and it catches your attention and you look a little bit further and you have your camera and you want to photograph it, then you try to find a way to represent whatever it is you’re photographing in some way.
There’s colour and there’s also different compositional elements.
It may be a function of how you create the composition or it may be a function of the lighting or all these other things but your goal is then to try to re-create or create something very specific. Now, the question is, how do we reconstruct all those elements and how do we take the image of something that we want, so it has that power and it has that impact that we’re looking for. Now, one of the things to consider is that, what you include in the frame is extremely important. Because if you include something, it should be of some value visually in terms of being able to convey information. If you isolate something, then you’re not showing things. Everything that’s in the frame is extremely important. Then, there’s always the relationship between the backgrounds and the foregrounds of your image. Sometimes, light and dark relationships dealing with contrast and endpoints of where your eye will be directed to. There’s colour and there’s also different compositional elements.
We’re going to start with this. This is actually not one of the 11 secrets. This is a sidebar creative secret which is creative images impact a viewer’s imagination. It goes something deeper than what it is. I think a great examples of that, I’ll start with photojournalism. If an image is really impactful, it’s usually not just because it’s illustrating whatever the story is but because there’s something deeper that speaks to us as human beings. It’s more about the condition and not specifically the event and that’s how certain images become iconic and last over time. If we think about it this way, if an image is a visual representation, then if we see something with the imagination, then we’re looking at it in our mind. I think a lot of times having images that have that power affect our minds and our imagination in some way. We’re going to look at this image really quickly and I need to ask all of you what you think of it.
How does the photo make you feel
Anything? Nothing. Okay, all right, very good. Does it make them feel anything? Pretty much apathy and indifference, is that what I’m getting? Okay, great. What about this image? I heard a little oohs and ahhs. Apparently, there’s some difference between this one and the last image. What makes one image have more merit than another image? Is it the composition? Is it the subject? Is it the lighting? Is it a combination of all these things, right, that come together. The difference between a good photograph. The first photograph was properly exposed, it was composed I guess okay and it was presented all right. Technically, maybe there wasn’t anything wrong with the photograph. It’s just that most of you simply didn’t care because it didn’t grab you in any way. Great photographs have those other element. They have impact and usually feeling and it’s done by understanding how your camera works and bring your own vision into the mix.
Let’s see. We’re going to look first at this one. The first secret that we’re going to talk about has to do ironically enough with lens choice. Because secret one is experiment with your lens. Now, here’s an image that was taken with 18 mm. 18 mm considered usually a wider angle focal length. Now, interestingly enough, if I were to walk up to anyone of you, I’m just going to use this gentleman as an example because he’s closest to me. If I did this, right now, you can’t focus on my hands and you can’t focus on my face. The other thing is that, that my hands physically look larger because that’s the way that the eye works. Now, one would think normally that if you wanted things to look normal, you would use a 50 mm or normal focal length lens. In this case, using an 18 mm and getting close to your subject visually represents the way that we see much truer.
How to use a focus point
One might not think that but in the case, that’s the way that it works. You can try this at home if you’d like to walk up to people like this is, “What am I doing? What am I doing?” All right. Number one is experiment with your lens. When I say that, it’s taking whatever lenses that you have and it’s working the angle. There’s a difference between getting close with a wide-angle lens and standing back with a telephoto lens. Partially because of the optical characteristics of telephoto versus wide-angle but all of these different points of view have an impact on how the image gets constructed. Get in close, move far back, change the subject of the composition, provide certain contexts or environments and then select the depth of field to best suit the subject. If we go back just for one second here, you’ll also notice that she’s in focus and her hands are out of focus, correct?
Now, I could have changed the aperture to increase the depth of field to try and get everything in focus but that actually isn’t the way that we see. It looks much more natural to have certain things in focus and other things out of focus. Now, just to go through a range here of focal lengths and discuss that aspect. Here is a little series of photographs. The first one taken in 18 mm and then what I did is I slowly zoomed in 35 mm, 75, 150, 200 and then finally, 270. Having a lens in this case, the 18 to 270 which has a 15 times optical zoom. For anyone that really cares, when somebody talks about the power of a zoom, it’s basically a simple math. You take the wide-angle number and you divide it into the telephoto number. Whatever number that is, it’s how powerful the zoom is. Now, you know. All these years, I’m sure you’ve wanted to know that. Now, you do. 18 goes into 270 15 times, so this a 15 times optical zoom.
The time and place for a macro lens
You have this entire range. This image obviously has a different impact and feel and context than that image, so everything you choose to include. Or if you wanted to take that 270 and focus anywhere else in the scene, think about the hundreds of pictures that are possibilities and you’re making a decision when you click the shutter, what’s in the frame and how you frame it up? Having the ability to go through this whole range with one lens gives you more options. This being super wide-angle lens and this being super telephoto. Here, 11 mm to 500 mm having a different impact and shooting different things. Then, of course, there’s also macro. Now, with macro, you’re really in general close to your subject and with true macro lenses like a 16 mm or a 90 or 180 mm lens, you can get actual 1 to 1 macro magnification, which is pretty cool.
Take advantage of this macro ability, too. The proximity you are to your subject and the focal length you’re using. Now, I want to talk briefly about a couple of functions that lens technology can enhance. One of them has to do with the angle of view of the actual lens. For example, having something that goes from 18 mm to 270 mm, at 15 times zoom in one convenient little package. Something about this size or so. Having that ability with one lens, means A, you don’t have to change lenses and B, you can carry around something convenient and light. Maybe you’re the type of person that likes to take all of your gear with you all the time. Or if you’re like me, I prefer that someone else carries it and I just could use what I want.
Focusing distance and the len
Anyway, then you’re also dealing with the minimum focusing distance of the lens. The minimum focusing distance of the lens controls how much magnification that it ultimately has. For example, many lenses like this lens right here which is the 18 to 270 has a macro feature. If any of you have zoom lenses that say macro on them, it means that in general, it’s going to be at the most telephoto focal length. In this case, 270 mm and you’re going to be at whatever the minimum focusing distance of the lens. In this case, it’s about a foot and a half. Once you’re at that distance, that’s going to give you the most macro capability that your lens has. Now, by photo industry standards, any lens that gives you one to four magnification or quarter life-size or greater, can be called a macro lens. True macro lenses give you one to one magnification.
Another technology example is VC. That’s a Tamron stabilisation, which is an almost all of their lenses at this point. What stabilisation does in any lens allows you to handhold an image at a slower shutter speed than used to be possible. Basically what it does, is it detects movement and in detecting the movement, it counteracts whatever your action is as the photographer and allows you to be able to get clearer pictures. Now, what the stabiliser doesn’t do is if you have low light and a moving subject, it doesn’t freeze action any better. Also, if you have it on a tripod, it can actually create blur. It’s recommended by every manufacturer currently that you would turn that switch off, which is why they give you an option to turn it off. Long exposures in a tripod, shut it off. Other than that, you can pretty much leave it on all the time.
Leaning about zoom lens
If you have faster shutter speeds, it simply won’t impact it but it’s that marginal somewhere between second and eight of a second in that range where handholding it with this is really valuable. An example of that, so here I am in the Times Square on the edge of the street not really able to put a tripod down. Also, the traffic is moving, everything is kind of crazy, it’s Times Square. You’ve all been there, right? Or at least seen it, heard of it maybe, okay. Anyway, this was with the 28 to 300 mm lens at 42 mm and it was handheld at a sixth of a second. Now, the traditional rule is that you take one and you put it over the focal length that you’re using. That’s the slowest shutter speed that you want to use. For example, if you have a lens that’s 28 to 300 mm, at 28 mm, you want to be at about a 30th of a second. Any slower than that, the chances of you moving while the pictures being taken and creating blur, it starts to get pretty high.
As you zoom your lens to say 300 mm, now you have to be at about a 300th of a second or 250th, let’s say. Because what happens is, as you zoom, you magnify and it magnifies everything including your movement. I’m sure you’ve all had this experience before where if you look through a telescope or something that has very high magnification, the slightest movement can create that shake. The same goes with photography. If you have a stabiliser however, it gives you in the case of the Tamron VC about four additional stops. That would mean, if you are handholding this image at let’s say, 42 mm, so we’ll say a 40th of a second that you would be able to go to a 20th of a second, that will be one-stop. Then, a 10th of a second would be another stop. Then, a fifth of a second would be another stop. Then beyond that would be about half a second. You should be able to hand hold between a half a second and the sixth of a second, presuming there’s no major movement.
The depth of field and more
It can really help on those marginal low light situations. All right. The next thing I want to discuss has to do with understanding depth of field. Now, depth of field is controlled by several different factors. One of the things that is controlled the depth of field has to do with the focal length of the lens you’re using. For example, a 24 mm lens has more depth of field than a 300 mm lens. That’s the first factor. The second factor has to do with the actual aperture you’re using. Apertures that are wider apertures that let more light in, have numbers like 3.5 or 2.0 or something like that. Those there’s a larger, they let more light in. The consequence of that is that there’s less depth of field, so that’s the second factor. Then, the third factor has to do with the distance that you are physically focusing from your subject.
For example, if I’m using a 300 mm lens and I’m really close to my subject and I’m wide open at whatever, I have 5.6 or something on my lens. That’s going to be very narrow depth of field. The same lens at infinity even wide-open would give you everything in focus. The distance that you’re physically focused is one thing, the actual F stop you’re using and then the focal lens. Those of the three factors. We’ll just give you some examples isolating some of those factors. On the left-hand side, you could see how there’s more blur in the background because you’re using that lens 2.8 wide-open. Here at 22, you have more depth of field. Now sometimes, having more depth of field especially for a lot of landscape photography is desirable. A lot of times for portraits, you want your subject to be sharp but the background to be a little bit softer.
In the case of landscape, give you more depth of field.
Most of the time, people are shooting portraits there somewhere in this FA, F56, F11 aperture wise because they want … You want to be able to see the background but you don’t want it to be as sharp as the subject. This way, the subject pops off of the background. If you use even any programme mode of your camera, if you could put in portrait mode or landscape mode or whatever. What it’s doing is it knows this information and it’s trying to bias it towards based on how much light there is all of these factors. In the case of landscape, give you more depth of field. In the case of portrait, give you a little bit less and isolate your subject. Give you another example of that. Here’s an image taken at F22 and then F2.8. There, there’s a pretty big difference in terms of the impact of this picture versus the impact of that picture. If you’re aware of this is how it works, then you would make these choices based upon the visual effect that you’re trying to create. Those wider apertures blur out the background significantly more.
Here’s another example. This is taken with the 28 to 75 mm lens, wide open at 2.8 aperture and at 75 mm and it may be almost the minimum focusing distance. You can see that the depth of field is pretty small like the grass in the front is out of focus. Then you get the nose and the eye in focus. Then behind that, everything else out of focus. Now sometimes, if you put the focus in the right place, it can be desirable because everything is in focus. You as the viewer aren’t really sure what’s the most important thing is. Here, it’s pretty clear that what exactly you should be looking at based upon what’s physically in focus. Here is another example, also with that same lens. Where when I took this image, I shot first the one with his face in focus but then, the foreground just looked a bit odd. In fact, this picture was really more about that specific gestures. That’s where the focus was on the second one and it’s much more successful.
More on the field (deep)
Like clearly, there’s enough information for you to determine who that character is, if you need it to say, well, whether or not you know them. You can clearly make out all the features, so it’s not faceless but at the same time, the focus being on that gesture in the foreground. Now, to do this from a really extreme angle, if you get super, super close and you’re wide-open. Especially if you’re photographing children because they’re smaller physically. Then that means, in order to fill the frame, you have to physically get closer and the consequence of that is less depth of field. Here, this is with the 28 and 75 at 75 mm, 2.8 wide-open and extremely close to that subject. Literally, the entire face isn’t in focus. It’s just the eyes. Now, the other reason is because the way that it works is it’s all with respect to this particular playing.
This is the play at where your chip is. Now, your minimum focusing distance is always measured from this little icon here, which is a circle with a line. I’m pretty sure every single one of you has this on their camera even if they never knew that it was there. If you look for it now, you know that’s exactly where your chip is. When they measure the minimum focusing distance of your lens, it’s always measured from that point. It’s not the front of the lens. With that said, if you get really physically close to someone this way and we have a small depth of field, if I’m parallel to his face, then his eyes and his lips will all be in focus. As soon as I change the angle, well now, the angle is here. That’s what’s happening in this photo. Her eyes are focused, her chin is out. If I was parallel to her face, then that’s the way that depth of field works, very thin.
physically engaging with whatever you’re photographing
Here’s another example. This is using a macro lens, a true one-to-one macro lens. In this case, it’s the 90 macro. I actually have this stopped all the way down to F16 so you would think that it’s selectively depth. There’s like not a lot of focus there but once you get physically so close to something using a true macro lens, even to maintain a little bit of focus sometimes requires you to stop down. That’s an F16 using the true one to one macro. Then, at the other extreme, this is 11 mm and here, because we’re already focused at infinity, that you have everything in focus. Again, using wider angle lenses gives you more depth of field. Getting really close to your subject gives you less depth of field. All right. This brings us to number three which is understanding the field of view. There are always these relationships in images between things and everything that you choose to put in the frame is actually important information.
It may not be something that you cognitively consciously consider when you’re composing an image but if you start to think about it and look at it later, you might say, “Well, it would’ve been better if I had this out or this?” When you’re actually out there taking pictures and you’re physically engaging with whatever you’re photographing, be conscious on what’s going in the frame because that’s the information that winds up ultimately getting conveyed. The image on the left-hand side, clearly, there’s enough information to you realise where that is, where an isolated part of it maybe not so much but you can’t always tell. Like for example, the sky there is little bit washed out just because of the day. Sometimes, you say, “Well, rather than try to get everything, I’ll just isolate and get one specific thing.”
New York fashion week – what did i learn
Here’s an example. This was with the 70 to 202.8 here in New York at Fashion Week a couple of years ago. This is at 200 mm and cropping out everything except for the dresses and the arms in the final part of the runway show. Now, it would have been possible obviously to use a different focal lens and then be able to see all of the models on the runway. Somehow, by just isolating a specific part, sometimes, it makes it a little bit more impact in the image. Another example of something like that where you’re just taking a part of something and representing it for the whole. You don’t always have to show everything to get enough information to know what the photograph is of. Sometimes, the idea of less being more is also a great way to be able to convey story. Because of the mood, because of the fog, because of this, it just isolates one specific simple thing that normally gets crowded by all these other things. It makes it simple in a very clear sort of statement.
Understanding that field of view also has some relationship to the lens that you use. This for example is with the 10 to 24 mm at 10 mm. This is in Brooklyn at the botanical gardens, cherry blossoms and what not. 10 mm, it starts to … It’s the branches in this case are what sort of break up just this field of flowers. Where if you focus on a specific one, then it becomes more about a specific blossom than the whole tree of blossom. You get a different mood and a different feel just depending on what you put into the frame. Another example here, for some people that were here earlier before probably know what’s coming. Here’s the 270 mm and of the 18 to 270, isolating just part of the Brooklyn Bridge. If that’s what you choose to take, that is fine, but then you wouldn’t have thought that there would have been someone standing right in front of you at 18 mm.
What to put in the frame
One image is taken from the exact same place but think about all the possibilities of 270 mm pictures all in just that space. Whatever you choose to put in the frame, really, really matters. Next, we’re going to go to secret four. Secret four is called understanding tension. Creating some sort of visual tension is a device that you can employ in your photography and sometimes can give it a little bit more impact. Now, sometimes, it can be done whole within one frame. Like in this case, because of the placement of the reflections of the people and because the way that the waves are break them down, there is this inherent dynamic tension. If they were closer together in the centre of the frame, it wouldn’t have existed. Because they’re closer to the edge of the frame, then that negative space is driving, putting a wedge in between them which is adding this constant attention.
Now, sometimes, you can also do it by juxtaposing or putting pictures together. In this case, just out of curiosity, if I were to ask you what’s happening here, you would say, okay, yes. The older person is nagging the younger one. Also, top answers on the board, it’s her mother-in-law. That seems to be a top answer on the board as well. Now, yeah, in reality, the picture on the left and the picture on the right were taken at two completely separate times and they don’t have any relationship to each other other than the fact that I put them together. Now, one of the reasons I put them together was from a visual point of view because the colour relationships were similar. I did this thing for a while where I would have, I basically have a stack images that were of this tone in the stack, this tone. I would just say, well, because they visually, they start to work and how do you start building narratives beyond that.
Really understanding the rule of thirds
I found an interesting experiment but it’s something to keep in mind that all the information, once we put this and that, immediately our minds are going to think that there’s a reason that it should be related. We make up these stories based upon the information that’s in the image. You can do it all these different types of ways. The opposite of creating tension is to create resolution. You can have something that’s simple, beautiful, calm that also has a certain power. It’s just all looking at it from the specific point of view. Secret number five is understanding composition. Now, there’s two basic rules that I’m sure most of you in this room have at least heard of and if not, then, I’ll be glad to introduce you this concept of the rule of thirds. Now, the rule of thirds basically states, if you take a frame and you draw two lines vertical and two lines horizontal much like this diagram here, you wind up with nine boxes and four points right in the centre.
centre these points cross, if you put something of information that’s interesting or important in your image. In general, if it falls at one of those points, it’s going to be a more interesting composition. Let’s see if this holds water. All right. Here is the image I for one, like a lot of the negative space in it because I think it creates this feeling of suspension, which is basically what we’re doing. If we draw that line right on top, you can see where that figure falls pretty much for one of those points cross. If one of the challenges that maybe you’re having is like your composition doesn’t quite seem to be as strong as it could be. Experiment with this idea of putting whatever your subject is in that particular point. If you’re the type of person that takes maybe one picture of something, that’s going to be the best picture whatever it is that you have because it’s the only one.
If you were to just change one thing as an experiment or for yourselves, I would say change the composition. Rather than take one picture, try taking three and the thing that you change every time is that angle or that composition. As you start to do that, it winds up being a valuable process. Because inevitably, if I showed you three pictures of the subject, we’re probably all collectively going to agree that one is better than the other two, almost inevitably. We may not even know why but if you go through that process to give yourself choices, it will definitely improve your photography. Here, another example of that. As you can see, especially when things become slightly more abstracted and there’s no real point. Like you can see how the flowers that’s pointing right towards us falls on one of those four points. That also means that I can rotate this in any direction and it’s going to fall on one of those four points.
Realistically, I don’t know if this one is better than that one or maybe they’re all pretty much the same. If you work on that concept, then you’re able to control the composition. That’s your basic rule of thirds. Then, you have this idea which is I call power quadrants. In power quadrants, you rather than break the frame into nine boxes, you break it into four. Then, if you concentrate something of interest in one of those, it can also create some strong compositions. Something else to play with. Let’s go number six. Number six is understanding point of view. Now, when I say that, I don’t necessarily mean like what’s your religious or political affiliation. It’s more of the relationship physically that you are to your subject. Now, if you’re close to your subject, if you’re further back, getting … If you photograph someone and you’re close to them, then the image shows that you have that relationship. If you’re shooting with a 500 mm lens of someone, then you’re probably paparazzi or whatever. Definitely a different type of photograph or a different relationship.
Whenever you’re photographing, if you move around subjects, try different positions. Low angles, high angles, different lenses and that really is pretty important. Here for example, this is taken with the 18 mm lens from a really, really low angle and these flowers are probably like maybe this tall or whatever. Once you put the lens really low and you exaggerate the perspective with the wide-angle lens, well then, you start to create this dynamic in this relationship. You can really start to play with this idea of scale with the relationship that you are to your subject. When photographing especially children, is goes for people in general but if you ever seen the cover of Newsweek or something like that. The title is like, Nation In Crisis, then you’re going to see someone usually shooting up at whoever this person is. These become interesting, the dynamics of the camera physically to the subject.
If I want to make you look like a powerful important executive, I’m going to shoot from a lower angle. If I just want to humanise you as much as possible, I’m going to be a straight. If you’re photographing children and you want to humanise them more, you get down to their level. Because then, you’re shooting in this way. Otherwise, it’s like your relationship to them shooting down. That angle really conveys a lot of information that we may not even be conscious of until we start to analyse it and think about it. This is from a super really high point of view and using a long lens. This was taken from the top of the Sears Tower of Lake Michigan and all those little white things are moorings for boats but it’s winter, so there’s no boats. From a really high angle and using a … This was in this case, a 200 mm lens at infinity. Because I’m at a high angle, it compresses everything. Everything looks really flat. It almost looks like a painting. It doesn’t have the same feel as a photograph. All these different angles really impact how the pictures come out.
All right. Number seven which is understanding the leading lines. Now, leading lines, there’s something that we can use in our photographs to help guide the viewer’s eyes through or to bring them to a point of something that’s either interesting or important. These can be any types of things. The traditional leading line is like I guess just a road that’s going in but they can take on all different types of forms. In his case, it’s literally a line. Having that line go straight to the feet, then you know exactly. Everything converges at that point. There’s not really any question about what you should … Like what the subject is and where to go. Because the line is literally taking you there. Here’s another example. Because when I look at this image, the first thing I see is the girls’ face and then I follow her arm down, follow the rope to the horse. Then, I go back up to her.
It’s creating a pattern and there’s a circle in there. Despite the fact these are all still images, that you’re creating rhythm and you’re creating movement throughout for your eye to follow. Then, here’s the classic leading line and there is your little road taking you into Kinkade ville or whatever that might be. I wanted to just speak for a moment because this had come up by some people and talk about lens hoods. Now, all Tamron lenses, if you purchase this lens, it comes with the lens hood. The lens hood is designed to be able to give you the most amount of protection from flare. Because flare can ruin the contrast of your image and the quality. Basically, the way it works is … Remove this lid here. I don’t know if you’ll be able to see it from where you’re at right now. If you see that light hitting this lens, anytime that you have that situation, that’s the potential for flare.
Having one of these hoods, if I take this off entirely, now you’re all going to see that there’s going to be flare because those lights are right there. If I put this back on and it’s not directly pointing towards the light source, now, it should shield it from flare. It’s going to improve the image quality. Now, why are they this flower shaped hood? The reason is it gives you the maximum amount of protection without vignetting. For example, if you inscribe right in here a rectangle, it would be the exact same dimensions as your chip, of the chip of your camera. Because lenses put out an image circle and the chip is this size, it gives you the maximum amount of protection without vignetting. Vignetting obviously is if I put the lens hood on incorrectly like this. Now, this is actually blocking some of the area, and so, I would see a dark part of the corner.
All the Tamron lenses come with them and it’s specifically designed for each lens. Other manufacturers, I think many of the Nikons I believe come with them. I think the Canons are an option. I think the Sony’s come with them as well. It’s really depends but they’re all available and it’s recommended by most manufacturers to have them for that specific reason. All right. We’re going to go onto I think the eighth secret. Y’all feeling the eight secret about now? All right. That is very important. It’s called look for and understand light. Now, light obviously is an extremely important part of photography but there is one thing to be able to get something well exposed. There’s another thing to be able to either control light or the relationship that you have to your subject which creates the mood.
For example, here is an image that was taken at about 9:00 in the morning and you can see the light is coming from the side because you see a highlight side on the boy’s face. Then, you see a shadow side and the same thing with the mother. You know that the light is coming in at an angle. Now, a lot of times when you have light that comes in at an angle, it creates depth and dimension and that is what we’re looking to create. If you wind up photographing everything with your flash and it’s this flash on camera here, let’s say. This little flash here is going to make really flat light because it’s coming from directly the same angle as your lens. Everything is going to be flat. Now, if you were able to take this flash off or if you took another light off, then you’re going to create dimension.
Even if we look at these lights here on me, this is coming from the front but it’s a little higher than the flash, so you’re getting some dimension. Then, as I turn, now the light, these people over here, I’ll see a lot more modelling of the light because it’s coming in from the side. The angle of the light to the subject becomes very important on how we perceive things. For example, this was taken at 8 a.m., I’m sorry, about 9 a.m. of this subject. In this case, I’m letting the light illuminate them. Well, what I did is I walked up the peer and two minutes after I took that picture, I took this one. Now, what does this say? Well, the light is the same, subjects the same, photographers the same, but the angle of the light to the subject and the angle of the photographer to the subject change. Any time you change one of those three things, either the light or the subject or the angle that you are to the subject, then everything changes.
Here, this has a completely different tone, mood, feel. Even though it’s the same subject and the lighting is the same. I would urge all of you if you haven’t done this. When you start photographing whoever or whatever, is take a walk around whatever your subject is and you’ll start to notice that, “Oh, wait. From here, the light looks much better.” Because when I started in photography, I could see expression, I could see moods but I wasn’t able to really successfully see light. I wouldn’t know, I could say, “Well, this looks pretty good,” but then I would take a picture and it doesn’t look as good as it looks to me with my naked eye. Then, you start to realise that, “Oh, it’s because of the lighting.” If you can move your subject, use walls to bounce, there’s all these ways to modify light in the real world.
I’ll give you another example. Here is an image I took of this boy, this was with the 28 to 75 mm lens at 28. I was happy with the composition more or less, it’s a picture I wanted to take. The only problem actually is the lighting and it’s not that it’s not well exposed. It’s just that essentially, he’s being back lit. The result of that is that we have like you see the lightness and then you see darkness and then you see lightness. Well, I knew that the light wasn’t good, so I asked this boy if he would turn around 180° and then I took this picture. Now, several things happened here. One is that now, it goes light, dark, light, dark light. The pattern play is more interesting. Perhaps even more importantly, you can see the catch light in his eye. Our eyes look for points where there’s extreme contrast. Where is the most extreme contrast in this entire image is right in his eye.
What’s that going to do? That’s going to make us the viewer connect much more with this child than with that child. Even though clearly, it’s the same child. Having that point there and this is just by turning them around 180°, nothing new again. Same photographer, lens, place, all of the stuff. Look for and understanding light turns out to be an extremely important thing. That as you go out and about in the world and start to become conscious of these things and how it works, I can guarantee that your photography will improve. Now, sometimes, you can also manipulate the light in different ways. In this case, you probably seen those big shiny pop up reflectors probably. If not, they have it here at B&H. I would recommend it if you photograph people. They’re very handy and they can add light. In this case, you can see light on the edge of their hair. That’s from the sun. The sun is behind them.
Then what I do is I have one of those shiny things and you can see the catch light in their eyes and that’s from the reflection of the light bouncing back to them. I was able to manipulate the light and now, it’s almost like having two lights. One is creating that nice hair light which the separation and then the second one is returning light to them. Because realistically, I could’ve tried to just expose without that reflector and I probably could have got an okay exposure but then the quality of light would be different. No flash on that. All right. Here’s another example. The light is coming from behind her but in this case, it’s bouncing into a huge white wall. To give you this scenario, if this was the white wall right here, then my subject would be right here and then my back would be to that white wall.
You can find this outside on the sunny days, like in the middle of the day. “Oh, terrible time to photograph,” but maybe not. Maybe you can find places where the lighting looks great and it’s always there if you know what you’re looking for. Taking advantage of large reflected light sources that just exist right all out and about. Here’s another example. I was happy with this. I like the drama to this picture here. However, his mother would prefer to see him. In this case, I added some flash to that. You could see what we’re looking at here is in this second picture, there’s actually two light sources. Because the sun which was making this really dramatic room light still exist in the second picture. If I just had the on camera flash without that sun, it would still be kind of flat. Because of that, it has a lot more dimension to his face. By in this case, using two lights. One, taking advantage of the sun and the second, my on camera flash.
Secret number nine is also important. I would urge you all to try this if you have it before. Maybe you don’t have to actually. Maybe I can save you the trouble but understand how your camera works and how the latitude of exposure works. Because I’m sure you’ve all experience taking a picture and you’re like, “That’s not the way that I see it.” Well, partially, it’s because the camera doesn’t see the way that we see. It has the ability to see maybe 10, 12 something stops of light, which is based on an amount halfing or doubling. Our eyes can see maybe 30. That means we can be in this room and I can be looking out on all of you and despite the fact that I have a very bright light in my face, I can make out most of you because of that case.
If you ask the camera to do that, it would either, that would be too bright or you would be too dark. Because the contrast, the latitude that you’re asking it to capture is beyond what it captures. What I did here was a little test that basically goes through over and under exposing the same exact scene to see exactly what it is that the camera sees. For example, right now, that says F8 at a 500th of a second. It’s happen to be shot it 100 ISO if anyone really cares. F8 at a 500 to the second. F8 is the aperture, 500 to the second of the shutter speed and next to that is a little zero. There’s a zero there because that according to the camera’s metre was the correct exposure. I want to take a picture of this.
The camera says, “If you set it that way, that’s what’s right.” Okay, that’s what the camera says. Then, what I decided to do is I underexposed it by one stop. Now, when I underexpose it by my one stop, you’ll notice in this case, it went from a 500th of the second to a 1,000th. By making the shutter speed twice as quick, I’ve added half as much light and the result is one stop darker. That’s what we get. Then, I did it one more time. If I was going to do it one more time, what would the shutter speed be?
Speaker 3: 2,000.
Andre C.: 2,000. Very good.
Speaker 4: You shot it in manual?
Andre C.: I shot it in manual and then, I did it one more time, let’s say. What happens if we went 4,000. Then, just to go totally crazy, yeah, an 8,000. That’s underexposed by four stops from what the metre says. What we’ll notice is that in the scene, the sun being the sun is still overexposed. However, everything else got dark. I think by about maybe three stops or so. This part actually is looking nice if that’s what we are only looking at that particular part. You can see how the saturation increases as things get underexposed. If you’ve experience photographing sunsets before and they looked washed out, well, this tells us that if we underexpose from what the camera says, then we’re going to get more saturation and colour. Something good to know. Then, what I did was the opposite. We started originally at F8 at a 500th of a second. If I wanted to overexpose one stop by manipulating the shutter speed, I would go to 250th of a second.
That was one stop overexposed from what the camera said was correct. Then, I went two stops overexposed, three and finally four, for what the camera said. What we notice at four stops overexposed from the camera’s metre of the whole scene, well, this looks about right. The camera’s looking at all these tones and it’s making an average based upon the light. If this is the way we want our picture to look, our camera would know that. It just knows what it sees. This at least then you can understand that throughout this, there’s all these different tones and exposing for the part of the picture that’s most important to you is what’s important. Here’s an example where the camera’s metre would do absolutely terrible job. Because there’s so much brightness in the scene, it wants to make it darker. Because it doesn’t know that there’s this white, that we want white. It’s just trying to make everything this average tone which in this case is not what we want.
That means, if you have a lot of light or white in your image and you want it to look the way that you perceive it, then what you need to do is overexpose from what the camera’s metre says it thinks is correct. In this case, if I were to metre this scene and I took the photograph, it would be too dark. I have to overexpose it because there’s a lot of light in the scene. Then, it looks the way that I want it. Then you also have the opposite which is if you have a lot of darkness in the scene, the camera wants to make it brighter. By doing that, it would wash out all that red colour. In this case, we have to underexpose it. If there’s a lot of dark things in your image, usually, you have to underexpose it. A lot of bright things in your image, you overexpose it. Then, you’ll get the exposure for the part of the image that you’re trying to get correctly.
A little story about this particular image. I think for me, I don’t mind spending time in light room or Photoshop for this type of things. The part that I like the most is usually taking the images, that’s just me. Everyone can approach it differently. There’s no right or wrong way. I’m assuming most of you do this because you like doing it. Whatever part that you like doing, that’s the part you should the most of your time doing. In this case, I prefer to get as best I can in the camera. Now, it’s not to say that all of these images you see have probably been manipulated or tweaked in some little way. There wasn’t anything major. I didn’t composite anything on any of these photographs but there was some sort of something done to them from the original image to what you just saw. Whether it was changing the contrast or maybe changing the levels or whatever. Pulling out some detail from the shadows that you wouldn’t have see in the original image, things like this.
In this case, I came across … This was in our Kyoto and I came across this scene the night before this image was taken. Smart people travel with tripods, just remember that. I, however, did not have a tripod. I wanted to take this image and there was no way I could take it because the sun had already gone down like way too far. The only way that I would’ve been able to take it the night before by the time I got there would have been take like two images in one exposed properly for the sky and the other exposed properly for the lanterns. The problem is without a tripod, trying to take multiple images from the same position is pretty impossible. As it was, I precariously balanced my camera on my bag at a cockeyed angle using the self timer and I mean, it worked clearly. Not the best way to do it but sometimes, you invent solutions to problems that you have on-the-fly.
In this case, I came back the following night earlier. The sun had gone down but there’s still some glow. You can see from behind that it had the clouds slightly illuminated and there’s some blueness to the sky. If you got there much later, then obviously, that light goes away. It looks like night but there’s detail there as opposed to it being that black black. In this case, doing it right in the camera meant going back the next day. You can also play with certain things. In this case, you can see the blur in the background and she’s relatively sharp compared to the background. In this case, if you’re willing to get on a tyre swing with your camera and have somebody spin you on it, then you’re very easily able to take this picture. Because when you think about it like me relative to this girl, we’re not really moving because we’re on a tyre spinning together.
Relative to each other, we’re not really moving but relative to the rest of the world, we are. Right at about 30th of a second or a 60th of a second, we’re able to blur the background and keep the foreground sharp. Now, it depends how fast you’re going, which is the appropriate shutter speed to get this effect. If you have someone spinning you at a good speed, you can create blur and have sharpness at the same time, just by that. That also reminds me of the technique of panning. Is anyone familiar with the technique of panning? All right. In the technique panning, you take your camera and you’re following a moving subject and you’re usually tracking it and photographing as you do that. What that does again, it reduces the relative speed of whoever or whatever you’re photographing to the camera. You’re able to get clearer pictures by doing that and sometimes, you’re also able to blur the background and have the subject sharp at the same time.
It shows this idea of movement much more effectively sometimes than freezing all the action. Because if you photograph a race car on a track at 8,000 of a second, you’re going to stop everything and that car is there but it just looks like it’s parked there. If you see some sort of blur or movement, then the implication is that it’s moving. You’re able to use those things to be able to make images a little bit better. All right. We’re up to number 11. It’s the you factor, yes. You have to experiment, you have to try things that you wouldn’t normally try. I find a lot of times by making assignments up for yourself, however simple they might be, at least gives you some direction and it gives you something to focus on. Because the more that you have options, the less likely you are to have a focus. I can put it this way. When I started out in photography, I taught myself a couple of different techniques that just came out of the process of doing it all the time.
One of them was I would go through and at the time, it was film and I would shoot a roll of film and then I go into the darkroom and develop it and then make a contact sheet and go through all this process. Inevitably, they be frame in there that I liked, that I either didn’t remember taking or I didn’t think was going to be good and it wind up being better than the one that I thought was going to be good. Because photography is a process and when you’re dealing with photography and film, it made it even more of a process. Now, everything is so much quicker but it doesn’t mean it’s still not a process. It just happens quicker. I think being cognizant of that and then you go back and you look at your own images. Even I almost never delete an image right in the camera because I could look at it a week later and have a completely different opinion than the moment that I look at it.
Because the moment I look at it, if it’s not exactly what I had here, I can instantaneously translate it. I might think it’s terrible but in reality, with a little bit of perspective, you’ll understand your own work and your own vision better by reviewing things at different particular points. I think that to me is always a very valuable way of understanding your own work. Anyway, with that said, so I would find an image that I’m like … I mean, like I said, I was just, it was like lucky I guess I got that. I would go back but it would consistently happen. What I notice the consistency of the luck, even though I never remember taking these images. I realised, there must be something to the whole approach. Because at the end of the day, if I’m always getting a picture that I was happy with on a roll of a film that I’m like, “Oh, this is great.” Whatever I was doing was working, so keep doing it.
When you find an image that you take that works or maybe you didn’t think that works. Then someone else will say, “Hey, I like that.” You say, “Well, it’s not what I wanted.” Maybe it’s not but maybe you have a relationship to that and back and that can help guide your path to your own photography as well. All right. Here’s a couple of images. These were all taken on the same day and with a friend of mine who’s a musician, we’re putting together a package for her album a couple of years ago. All taken with different lenses, different lighting, different time of day but it was just through the course of one day. This with the 18 mm in the car, we drove around probably for half an hour. I probably took 74, 75 pictures. Most of them were terrible but that’s okay. I think that you also should realise that taking risks and making mistakes or not getting exactly what you want is also probably a good thing.
Some people can walk into a scene, take one picture and be like, “It’s perfect,” and walkway but most people, that’s not the case. Even with people that are some of the best in the world at whatever their type of photography take hundred and sometimes thousands of pictures to get that one picture that they’re after. There is something to be said for the math of it as well. You take one picture, it’s the best one you have. You take 300. Well now, you have to go through 300 pictures, right? That’s terrible, but at least you have options. Again, whatever. If you’re the type of person that takes one picture, try taking three if you’re the type of person that takes 800, I don’t know, maybe try three or something. Whatever you do to give yourself a new challenge because that winds up giving you some focus.
This was taken the same subject, different place later in the day. The sun had just gone down down. Again, I’m not using the camera’s [inaudible 01:04:07] because it wants that background to be dark but I don’t. I want it to be light and to fade off. Then, I added flash in the front. This was again, this is the light had just set. If the light just set, then what’s the light on her? Well, that’s an off-camera flash which I literally put on the ground. This is like a little speed light just on the ground with a remote facing up. I’m able to … Because now, it gives a little detail there. There’s dimension, there’s playing with lighting. Not even a diffuser, just straight on. Play with all of these different things. Sometimes whether or not, it’s just saying, “Well, today, I’m going to photograph this object, this person, this subject.” You walk around the city or have some other location. That gives you some focus.
Then, this was at the end of the day using a couple of different strobe lights inside. One is bouncing off of the ground. Another thing, a technique that I came across at some point is sometimes, you see great light in a room but the quality of it is fantastic. The amount is not enough. Well, you can take your flash and put it right where the underneath that lamp right under the shade and then get that same quality of light but just much brighter with a flash. If you see light that you like, you can just make it even better. Sometimes, sometimes. All right. Here’s another approach to certain things. Again, it was a subject. I was at the beach, just spent the week collecting random shells. As I did, I would just photograph them all with the macro lens and all at one to one. That means if this is shot at one to one with a macro lens, that shell is like super, super small. I collected a whole bunch of them and then, at the end the week, put it all together.
I gave myself a little assignment. Something to do, something interesting, something to explore and different ways of seeing. That’s one of the things that I think if you do for yourself, no matter what your interest is, you’ll find that you will refine your craft pretty significantly. All right. Let’s see, www.tamron … Its’ actually tamron-usa.com. Now, they recently change that and I haven’t updated this yet. tamron–usa.com is a Tamron website. There, they have videos, articles. Also, such great information about photography in addition obviously to information about lenses. Because you’ve attended this and you get the idea, you know everything about the lenses, so maybe you want to learn more about the photography.
It’s a really great site. They have on there the Tamron Learning Centre and it’s contributing articles from various techs and professional photographers about all different types of photography and it’s a really good resource, in addition to Tamron’s blog which is called Angle of View. They have lost of updated articles, how to’s and all types of things on different types of photography as well. If there are no more questions, then I guess we can consider this session adjourned but I will be around if you do have any other questions you’d like to ask. Thank you very much.
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