Posts tagged ‘amateur photographers’

January 17, 2012

Cropping Photos to Improve the Visual Effect

Cropping is a useful tool for photo improvement. Though it sounds like an easy trick, cropping is more art than science and you need an eye for it. Still there are some general guidelines that can help you improve the visual effect of your photos.

Focus in!

Crop to bring the attention to the main object or person. In a portrait, the person’s eyes are the focal point. If the person is looking sideways, make sure to allow ‘space’ for her to look into or include enough of the object so the viewer knows what the the person is looking at. Otherwise the viewer will wonder what is missing.

Cropping also lets you remove the parts of the picture that didn’t turn well, let’s say because of awkward posing like in the example below.

Don’t amputate!

Cropping off people’s limbs at joints makes them look like amputees. Despite a very popular concern, it’s okay to crop part of the head if it’s a close portrait, as it will bring more attention to the eyes.  Cutting between the joints is alright as long as it’s still possible for the mind’s eye to fill in the blanks to complete a person’s torso or limb.

An example of bad cropping where the hand cut off at the wrist appears detached. The only way to fix this effect is to re-crop the photo to a close portrait.

Combine tilting with cropping!

In some situations tilting can save the day when you realize the only photo that you like is still bad.

Remove distractions!

Remove the view-spoilers, parts of unidentifiable objects and things that distracts from the story the image is telling.

Someone's back was a view-spoiler in otherwise a nice portrait. The photo allowed for easy cropping that brought the new balance to the composition by seemingly adding to the empty space in the direction of the person' glance.

Watch the ‘negative space’!

This is the space around the central object. Cropping too tightly will make the photo look awkward.

Cropping Contextual Images

The images surrounding the person or the object in the center of attention serve as the context and create the picture story and establish the mood. It becomes a critical compositional component that need to be cropped to have a balanced visual effect. To reach the optimal result, it is recommended to follow the Rule of Thirds.

The Rule of Thirds: Divide the frame into thirds horizontally and vertically. The points where those lines intersect are good starting points to place the main subject. Essentially the primary subject is slightly off center.

In the original photo the person is put squarely in the middle and the background is cropped too tight leaving no breathing space above and below the figure. By cropping right below the hand (not to lose the gesture) and reducing the space on the left we re-balance the composition to bring it it in line with the Rule-of-Thirds.

You might find it impossible to follow all these rules as they start to clash when your photo has more than one problem. You would need to compromise or send it to us at PhotoHand and we’ll apply more advanced techniques to perfect your mementos.

You might also want to read:
Cropping Photos to Match Printing Standards
Other Point-and-Click Tips

July 8, 2011

Point-and-Click Tips: Taking the Red Eye Glow Out Of the Picture

Red eyes (red glow in pupils) in photos is a common phenomenon when taking pictures of people or animals using a flash.

Some cameras support a “red eye reduction” mode.  In that mode the camera fires the flash a few times before taking the photo. Although this helps reducing the red-eye effect, it can also result in photos of people with their eyes closed (as they blink when blinded by the pre-flash).

There are a few things that you can do to prevent red-eyes.

1. Take the pictures with sufficient light in the environment so that your subjects’ pupils decrease in size.
2. Tell them to look to the side of your camera – not straight at the camera.
3. Have someone divert babies or pets’ attention so that they look away from the camera.

Some cameras include built-in image processing software that automatically removes red-eye from the photos, or you can use Picasa or other online photo editing software. Make sure that the software only effects the eye area and doesn’t change the color of other elements in the picture that happen to have the tint typical of the red eye effect. Software trips in such cases as it works on formulas and doesn’t exercise common sense.

Another option is having it done by professional photo retouchers for as low as $3.50, especially in case you have captured a close portrait in a dark environment and now the whole eye retina is glowing red.

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July 6, 2011

Point-and-Click Tips: Avoiding Overexposure and Underexposure When Taking Pictures Outdoors

Although digital point and shoot cameras are generally automated to measure the amount of light in an environment and apply the proper settings to take a good picture, the camera often makes an exposure decision that is incorrect due to complicated scene conditions. Most of the time, when a shot is underexposed, the details in the shadows can be recovered in Photoshop, while you can’t fix a photo if the details are not there as the result of overexposure.

Overexposure: photos that are washed out, too bright, or have blown-out areas.

Direct bright light will create overexposure. To avoid it, as the first measure, make sure the sun is not shining into the lens while you are taking a picture. Sounds like the most obvious thing but you’ll be surprised how many people don’t think of it. It is recommended to put your subject in a shady area when shooting a sunny day.

Besides washing out the image, the harsh light creates a strong contrast where the highlights are too white and the shadows too black.

Uneven contract can be an eye sore. For example if the object’s face is lit from the side the object’s nose can create a strong shadow. When lt from above, the face will feature black spots in the undereye area, under the nose and on the chin. The camera can not automatically correct such effects. Use flash on the shade side to even out the exposure to light on both sides!

Underexposure: Photos that are underexposed look dark and lack details. When printed in large sizes they show pixelation instead of solid colors.

The obvious reason for underexposure is poor lighting. But it can also occur if there is a very bright light source in the photo. It can confuse the camera to believe that there is enough light in the scene for a low exposure setting. The result will be a photo that captures the bright area but darkens all the others.

To prevent underexposure you have to move closure to your subject and make sure your subject is the most well-lit element within the frame.

General: Outdoor photos can benefit greatly by overcast skies or by taking photos early in the morning or in the evening. Taking photos when the sun is at a 45 degree angle will result in richer colors.

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March 12, 2009

A New Source of Imagery – Every Man and Woman

In 1953, the Time magazine reported amateur photographers were taking estimated 2 billion pictures a year. In our Digital Lifestyle age, when there is no cost of film and development associated with clicks, one enthusiast might account for this number.

AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER: Every man his own artist. Time Magazine - Nov 2, 1953

AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER: Every man his own artist. Time Magazine - Nov 2, 1953

Photography today is the national pastime. People seem to be carrying cameras at all times in hopes of one day being at the right place at the right moment. Well, they might get lucky. After all, some amateur pictures made history like the shots of the sinking of the Vestris in 1928, the explosion of the Hindenburg in 1937, or the Hotel Winecoff fire in 1946. Can amateur photos compare in artistry and technical quality to the professional photos? Artistic quality is largely in the eye of the beholder and even Robert Capa himself once observed: “Most of the people in this country take pictures, and most of them take better ones than I do.” And now most amateurs are walking around heavily armed with semi-professional and professional cameras that become more and more affordable with every year. Professional-grade cameras now cost less than $1,000 The borderline between professional and amateur photographers is beginning to blur. Back in 1953, selling your lucky shots means a lot of legwork. These days, all you have to do is open an account at one of the photography microstock websites that serve as marketplaces for images, and you can proudly claim yourself a professional once you have sold. One of such sites iStockphoto’s clients now include bulk photo purchasers like IBM and United Way, as well as the small design firms that used to buy from expensive agencies like Corbis and Getty. As a matter of fact, Getty Images – one of the world’s largest stock and editorial photo vendors has made a deal with Flickr to add a hand-picked set of Flickr users’ photos to its catalog. The deal will almost certainly cut further into the market for professional stock photography. You won’t make too much cash selling your photos though. Thanks to the collective effort of millions of you, stock photos are no longer scarce and the going rate for royalty-free photos is $1. But who knows, you might produce a photo that will be hugely in demand. So, click away for extra cash or maybe fame! Here is the list of some of the microstock websites to consider with an overview in their own words:

ShutterStock is the largest subscription-based stock photo agency in the world.

Dreamstime is a distinguished leader in stock photography and a major supplier of high quality digital images at unbelievable prices.

BigStockPhoto provides designers with an alternative to high-priced stock photography, in addition to providing photographers with a marketplace to sell their work.

123 Royalty Free is your one-stop royalty-free photo library offering stunning, practical stock photos at the most affordable price!

Crestock – stock photo & image bank that has the stock photography industry’s highest standard in royalty free stock photos & images.

iStockPhoto is the Internet’s original member-generated image and design community. We offer millions of royalty-free stock images for as little as $1 each.

YAY Micro claims to be the best creative and editorial microstock agency in terms of quality, turn-over, reputation and satisfaction. Our vision is to be the leading digital content provider.

CanStockPhoto is one of the world’s largest microstock photography agencies.

FeaturePics is an Internet tool for the realization of the free market; where an Artist is responsible for a product and supervises its price, and a Buyer completes this market by buying the Art.

Fotolia offers the largest image bank of free and affordable royalty free photos and illustrations perfect for any medium, web or print.

Cutcaster is a dynamic, licensing exchange where members buy, sell and request the rights to use digital photos, vector illustrations and images.

PantherMedia is an online marketplace for royalty-free photography. Buyers and sellers of royalty-free images meet on one common platform.

Zymmetrical – the site’s moto is ‘Digital Art to Go!’, but they let our Artists determine the prices of their files – you may find some files to be cheaper than you’d expect, some may seem expensive; however you can always be sure the quality is top-notch.

Fotomind is a royalty-free stock photography agency delivering high quality photos under affordable prices.

Albumo is the Royalty Free Photo Stock – where everyone can sell or buy desired images.

ImageCatalog is a Royalty-Free stock photography web site with the goal of providing exceptionally high quality images at micro prices.

ThePhotoStorage – a royalty-free stock photography website where anyone can purchase photos or vector illustrations for less than $1.00

MostPhotos is a democratic marketplace for stock photos and images.

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