Posts tagged ‘photography’

July 20, 2012

Modern Wedding Book Trends: Vignetting

Before digital cameras vignetting was an unintended and undesired effect caused by camera settings or lens limitations. Now it is purposely introduced for creative effect, such as to draw attention to the center of the frame.

It also helps the photos blend well with dark colored background of layouts. This design element serves particularly well for large photos, especially portraits.


MODERN WEDDING BOOK TRENDS:
Vintage Style Photography
Black and White Photography
Vignetting

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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.

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

January 16, 2012

Cropping Photos to Match Printing Standards

Cropping is used to make your shots fit the standard photo paper sizes. It’s done by bringing the aspect ratio of your photo to the aspect ratio of a standard print size.

An aspect ratio is simply the ratio between the width and height — the shape of an image. A square photo, for example, would have a 1:1 aspect ratio where the width is the same as the height.

Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a set frame aspect ratio of 1:1.33 (known as 4:3) when most DSLRs use the aspect ratio of 1:1.5 (known as 3:2).

In comparison, standard photo paper sizes have the following aspect ratios:
6″x4″ – 1:1.5
7″x5″ – 1:1.4
10″x8″ – 1:1.25

As you can see the DSLR aspect ratio fits the format of 6″x4″. In other situations you need to crop your photo.

It is recommended that you crop the photos yourself before sending them to a printer. Otherwise they will use their own judgment what parts of the photo can be sacrificed.

If you need a photo editor, we recommend using GIMP – free open-source software that has been around for quite a while:

for Windows:
http://www.gimp.org/downloads

for Mac
http://www.gimp.org/macintosh

July 24, 2011

What Is ‘Natural’ in Photography?

Some time ago I saw an amateur picture of a woman with her baby posted online with a defiant comment that she was proud of her natural unretouched look. The picture looked pretty bad. You could tell there wasn’t enough light in the room when it was taken, so her skin and he baby looked earthy and bluish. The low angle from which the photo was taken was rather unflattering. She had no makeup on and her hair was messy.

I couldn’t understand her logic. If you are shooting a picture for keeps and posting online you would normally pretty yourself up to have a photo that celebrates you and brings you in a good mood.You would ask someone to take the photo of you so that person would give you directions for better posing.

Then there was another comment that made me join the discussion. She compared the “honesty” of her photo to the “naturalness” of Annie Leibovitz photography. Without stating the obvious points of difference between the lady’s self-portrait and the creations of a genius, I’ll get to the educational part: the ‘naturalness’ of great portraits is achieved through hours of collaborative work.

For starters, the photographer will help you with posing and your facial expression to make sure you do relax and do look natural in front of the camera. A real professional will make sure the background doesn’t have any distracting elements to spoil the view: water bottles, bags, exit signs, or any other clutter.

S/he will watch out for stray strands of hair, wardrobe malfunctions, and other obvious issues.

A top-level photographer comes with a crew that includes, depending on the budget, the following type of helpers:

– Lighting Assistant who directs a reflector to bounce light onto the subjects, sets up flash stands and adjusts the settings on external flash units, and holds and aims video lights.

– Photographic Stylist who collects the necessary materials and props before the shoot from various suppliers, arranging objects in the desired fashion and setting up lights and special effects, if any, e.g. fog, wind or rain.

– Hair and Makeup Stylist – Even a natural beauty that doesn’t need much help but a little enhancement can go a long way with some makeup. As a minimum, you need a flash-resistant foundation so that your skin doesn’t appear oily. During the shoot, this professional corrects the smudges and watches out for stray strands of hair.

– Wardrobe Stylist – knows how to accentuate the positive attributes of the people they dress. Choosing the right outfit to flatter someone—in a way that is appropriate for each event—is an art. Fashion styling requires extensive knowledge of the fashion industry and a knack for matching your clients with the clothing that will support the image they want to project.

Depending on the chosen style these professionals can present different facets of YOU.

In 2008, Vogue Paris demonstrated how, without any retouching, and only with the application of makeup, wardrobe lighting the same woman could appear as a 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60-year old:

Vogue Paris November 2008 with Eniko Mihalik by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin styled by Carine Roitfeld, make-up by Lisa Butler

Technically, these are natural (unretouched) photos, unless you consider makeup that women wear routinely to be a grand illusion. But somehow I think that discretely retouched portraits where photography flaws have been eliminated, skin has been cleaned, undereye shadows lightened, static hair removed, and the background clutter eliminated to be more ‘natural’:
Amateur photo edited to look like a studio portrait

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July 9, 2011

Papercraft Celebrates Retro Photo Cameras

These 100% recyclable retro cameras are for keeps. Each device is cut by hand utilizing sustainable paper, and even the smallest “waste” scraps are re-used to form some of the smallest detailed components.

The photo camera and the Polroid were crafted by design studio Zim and Zou based in Nancy, France, and there is more colorful retro electronic devices made of paper to admire.

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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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June 13, 2011

New Tennessee Law Bans Posting Images That Cause Emotional Distress

The new Tennessee law that bans posting images that cause emotional distress has caused a lot of stir in the media. Specifically, it outlaws posting photos on the web that cause “emotional distress” to someone and have no “legitimate purpose.” The punishment amounts to a year in prison and nearly $2,500 in fines. It is stated that there needs to be “malicious intent,” so dimwits with poor judgement can be off the hook, but the law nails down the persons who “reasonably should know” that the actions would “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress.”

Unfortunately the wording of the law motivated by good intentions is too broad not to get into a conflict with the Freedom of Speech. For starters, it doesn’t require that the picture be of the “victim,” only that it be distressing to the “victim.” This leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

With all the criticism the law has received, we should appreciate the attempt of the Tennessee law-makers at curbing the actions of bullies and bitter jerks who, thanks to the Internet, now enjoy the access to worldwide audiences.

When the news came, we remembered a rather creepy call to our studio asking if we could place a new face on a totally naked body in another photo. We do photo montage but our company policy precludes us from handling images that feature frontal nudity and we quickly turned down the order. The caller lamented that no studio would take his order. We were glad to hear that though most probably the guy eventually found someone to do the job.

Women, and we know this as our staff and clients are primarily female, are very sensitive about their photos and often feel like executing their friends for posting lousy photos of them on Facebook – not the malicious ones but just bad photos taken from an unfavorable angle at the wrong moment. Now if these are really embarrassing shots taken by creeps for whom propriety and civility have no value, we seriously want them to be brought to court.

So, no matter how imperfect the Tennessee Law is in defining the “emotional distress”, it’s a good start for a movement to protect the dignity of ordinary persons as well as celebrities.

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February 9, 2011

Boudoir Photo – A Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift

Valentine’s Day is the busiest day of the year for boudoir photographers as women are looking to drop the tired clichés in favor of an original and sexy gift.

What is boudoir photography?
It is sensual and tasteful photography that portrays a woman in the best light possible – fun and sexy pictures.

What it is not are R-rated or X-rated photos taken by some creep claiming to be an artist. Nudity and porn are certainly not boudoir photography.

Though the origins of boudoir photography date back to the early 20th century and trace their roots to the pin-up girls of WWII France, it was only in the last couple of years that this photography genre has entered the mainstream.

Women took to it as a way to celebrate themselves and capture their essence at a particular time of their life.

Now some photographers provide group packages which makes the service more affordable for women and creates a fun and supportive atmosphere where you cheer each other up.

What makes for a good boudoir photo?
Sensual yet comfortable posing is essential – looks don’t matter as much as how you are feeling. You must feel beautiful, confident and sexy. Above all, the boudoir photo shoot should boost your self-esteem, not break it.

The lighting should be used in the most flattering way.

Discreet retouching – no cellulite, blemishes, rashes or any other skin imperfections, no wrinkles, no double chins. Your photo should be poetry celebrating you, not prose.

These rules will make your boudoir portrait a perfect Valentine’s gift for your significant other.

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December 12, 2010

Photo Retouching: Feel Beautiful Because You Are

Looking good is not important, it’s everything! At least it must be to two thirds of women, as the Hewlett Packard survey showed, who are “deeply embarrassed” by many of their photos. The same research shows that if you are a man under 35, you are probably happy with every photo of yourself, including the ones that should appear embarrassing.

Why women hate their photos? Because we want our photos to present us the way we’d like to be and they usually don’t. We want our true self to be captured in a flattering light, from a favorable angle and preferably by a genius from Photography. This doesn’t happen often and this is why we delete our photos before anyone had a chance to see them and plead with our friends to remove our photos from their Facebook galleries. Even those women who are majorly satisfied with their reflection in the mirror can and do develop photophobia.

Professional models are never happy with their photos till they have been edited. PhotoHand artists know this because we work with models.

Your photo might be far from perfect, but with the help of the photoshop retouching service, you can make any picture perfect and outstanding.

Suppose someone snapped a decent photo of you that you decided to use a your professional photo (a.k.a. “executive portrait”) on your marketing materials. With a little help from Photoshop, your casual amateur photo will be turned into a “studio portrait”.

Another lucky shot doctored with the glamorizing effects will give your image a touch of Hollywood turning it into a photo gift to your loved ones.

Boudoir photography is a growing trend. Brides are looking for something unique and sexy to give their husbands as a wedding gift. But ladies in their 30’s, 40’s and even 50’s are wanting boudoir photo shoots even more. When asked about their motivations, the general response is that they are still feeling young at heart and want to capture themselves in some beautiful sensual images.
Needless to say, boudoir photography always needs a hand from photo retouchers. We also recommend applying various art effect like soft focus, Rembrandt-like light and shade contrast, Hollywood affects, etc. Then your photo will be poetry. Plus, that the experience of having a make-over and photo session can give women a feeling of liberation and empowerment. Now beauty salons started hosting boudoir photo sessions for groups of women.


From 1991, when pregnant Demi Moore appeared nude on the cover of Vanity Fair, pregnancy stopped being something to be hidden, but something to be celebrated in all its glory. Maternity photos are always a challenge but with skillful retouching they become a celebrated memento in moving forward. We at PhotoHand are noticing a growing trend of sending our pregnancy announcement photo cards just like it is with baby arrival cards.

Wedding photos have been family treasures since the beginning of photography. They must be perfect, especially the bride’s gala portrait shot before the wedding. All the tiny photo flaws must be fixed. But what if you don’t even have that portrait. Well, it can be created in all its splendor.

A less than perfect photos shouldn’t bring you down. First, not everybody is a model – it’s natural to get uncomfortable in front of the camera. And that hair gets out of control because there is no stylist around to assist you. And the makeup artist is not on hand to fix the smudges. Remember, all these annoying flaws can be easily fixed after the image capture.

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December 12, 2010

Photo Retouching: Going Mainstream

Photo retouching, a.k.a. photo editing or airbrushing, is as old as photography itself. But only with the advent of the digital revolution that overturned a lot of concepts in the Photography industry since the beginning of this century, photo retouching became commonplace, extending to family photography – professionally taken as well as amateur shots.

Photo retouching services became affordable to any budget ($3.50/photo at PhotoHand.com) and easily accessible over the web. You can order it 24/7 just like you order books or clothes.

Just decide what you don’t like about the photo, check the pricing schedule and go to the order form to upload your shots and type in your instructions. You will get your images back in the same resolution without any marks claiming the copyright over your photos.

Photo retouching (“photoshopping”) does not mean altering the photos completely, rather it simply modifies the images and removes the flaws originating from technical and non-technical faults.

Besides the lighting that you normally don’t have control of outside the studio, there are a lot of mishaps that can ruin the view: exit signs spoil the mood in the wedding pictures and so do slight wardrobe malfunctions like skin overflowing the edge of a sleeveless wedding dress (happens even to the skinniest brides), twisted tense smiles resulting from prolonged posing, electrified hairs crossing faces… There is no reason now to put up with these imperfections that spoil otherwise a perfect memento.

Of course, it takes skill, experience and artistic perspective to improve and sometimes rescue the photo without affecting the originality of the image. Luckily, now the magazine-quality photo editing services are available to every mom, newlywed, serial dater, actor, musician, aspiring model, pageant contestant, starting out fashion designer, beauty professional, life coach… everyone.

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