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Portrait Photography tips for Beginners
31. Throw horizons to the wind for fun portraits
Landscape photographers, who are typically quite picky about horizons being perfectly level, would want to cry if they heard this tip. But, giving the composition a good tilt can create a fun and unique portrait. I took ONE TILTED FRAME onthree different senior picture shoots and all three seniors chose the tilted picture. It s a fave of clients, even if some photographers think it s cliche. To learn more,check out this article on tilting.
32. When taking a portrait of a group always focus on the closest person to the camera
You ll regret it if you don t, because the front person will be out of focus even if you have a slightly higher aperture. Trust me on this one.
33. Get that model release
I have a library of dozens and dozens of great portraits that I can t use commercially because I never got a release. I did a black and white of a homeless man that became quite a popular photo, but it will spend its life collecting dust on my hard drive because I can t sell it. Ugh!
34. Try out electronic model releases for simplicity
My life changed when I downloaded an app for my smart phone that includes a model release that the client can sign by writing with her finger on my phone. It makes things much simpler for me and I am now much more likely to get the release. Just search model release on the Android or iPhone App Stores to find an app for you. I also keep a few paper releases in my photo bag since iStock and other microstock agencies still don t accept digital model releases.
35. Learn the famous S pose
Every human being who could ever be considered a portrait photographer must know the s curve. It s essential posing education, and I m definitely going to be teaching it greater detail in my 30 day portrait photography class. Basically, the model does this pose by making the (camera right) side of a model make the shape of an S with the shoulders and hip creating the right edges of the S.
36. De focus the subject
Sometimes the subject is only part of a portrait. To apply this technique, you might focus on the subject s hat and have the person standing a few feet away, reaching for his hat. Or, you could do the same thing with a kid s toy or a woman s high heel shoe. It s a fun and creative shot.
37. Fill the frame
Zoom way in on the subject s face, eye, or hands. Filling the frame shows great detail and will set your photo apart from the millions of snapshots that we see every day on our friends Facebook pages.
38. Check for sharpness on the eyelashes
It can be very tough to tell if your shot is in focus by looking on the back of the LCD screen. The way that I check for sharpness is to zoom in on the picture on the LCD to look at the eyelashes. If you can see individual eyelashes, then you know you have a tack sharp photo. Eyelashes look like a blur of black? Not so sharp.
39. Get a vertical battery grip
Battery gripsare large attachments that clip onto the bottom of the DSLR and include an extra battery. While the battery is handy, the real advantage of a battery grip is that they give you another shutter button. This extra shutter button can be pressed when the camera is in portrait (up and down) orientation so you can hold the camera more steady without sticking your elbows up and contorting your body to get a vertical shot. This will make you more likely to change your camera orientation and your shots will be much sharper. Battery grips are typically pretty expensive ($200+) buthead over to Amazonand search battery grip and the name of your camera model. For most popular models of DSLRs, you can pick up a third party battery grip that is every bit as good as the name brand battery grip for around $50. Click here to see the cheap battery grips on Amazon.
40. Get out of the model s face
I did something incredibly stupid while shooting a black tie event for a company last year. I totally forgot my 70 200mm f/2.8, so I had to shoot with a short 50mm lens for the candids while the guests had dinner. To get a decently tight shot with a 50mm lens in this situation, I needed to be about 5 feet from the subject. It was a failure. Everyone froze up and looked terribly uncomfortable when I got that close with my camera. I couldn t get any decent candids that way and it ruined the shoot. Personally, I shoot most of my portraits at 100mm or more unless it s a full body shot, in which case I shoot at about 70mm.
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