After publishing over 350 blog articles about all aspects of digital photography, it can be a struggle to come up with fresh topics that I haven’t covered in with nauseating detail in the past. It has been a lot of words, but as I review many of the articles it becomes apparent that most can be distilled down to one or two key “take away” points.
Over the last few weeks I have been out shooting in some different and exciting places. I look forward to sharing many of the resulting images, but, as I continue to experience new surroundings, I thought it would be a good opportunity to reprise a few of my favorite “take always”. As I began assembling these quick little secrets of photography and link to related articles, the list seemed to grow beyond control. To get started, here then are just few of my quick take-always, Not necessarily the best, in no particular order and, for those few who read my blog, nothing new, but still worthy of emphasis.
1) Have something interesting and clear in the foreground on foggy days.I love the sense of mystery that fog and mist create in an image. Fog can also enhance a feeling of depth, especially when nearby elements are seen clearly against a soft distant background. When I approach a foggy scene, my first thought is to find something interesting in the foreground.
2) Avoid Infrared pictures of people.
About six years ago I converted my old Canon 20D to shoot infrared. It opened a whole new way of seeing. The greens of foliage were transformed to a snowy white and the sky became an Inky black. It has been great fun exploring the world in an entirely different spectrum of light, but I learned one painful lesson. Unless your goal is to create zombie portraits, you should avoid using infrared for pictures of people. Infrared makes skin appear ghostly pale and devoid of life. Even worse are the eyes which are rendered in a fathomless black. Leave your infrared camera at home on your wedding shoots.
3) A picture does not exist until it is in at least three places, at least one off-site.
If disaster can happen, it will! When it comes to your precious images there is nothing more certain. Computers crash, hard drives fail, and, some day, the cloud may simply blow away. Any mode of back-up is vulnerable, all will fail, but hopefully not all at once. I shoot with images saved to two different cards within the camera. Before I reuse the cards, I make sure
everything is thoroughly backed up. At the time of
upload, I save the pictures to two separate hard drives, and then archive my
favorite processed images to the cloud. Finally, to protect from fire and
flood, I keep a separate archive on a drive in my friends closet. For my
most precious image, those of my family, I get physical prints and hide them
from the light in shoe box, just like I did when I was shooting film.
|Mom at 7|
That. Is just my approach. You can have your own plan. The important thing is to have a plan!
4) Photograph Christmas Lights in the Blue Hour.
|Pretty Lights, Black Sky|
Pictures of nighttime artificial illumination can be magical at any time of year, but never more warm and exciting as during the holiday season. I love shooting Christmas lighting and early on I learned one cardinal rule, shoot during the blue hour. The “Blue Hour”, is that time just before sunrise or after sunset when the sky retains a lovely blue glow, but does not obscure the illumination. Lighting photographed in the full darkness tends to appear as if floating in space without sense ofcontext provided by the underlying scaffolding of the surrounding, un-illuminated structures.
Because it stands adjacent to the glorious “Golden Hours” of sunrise and sunset, the blue hour is generally unappreciated as a time for photography, but it has its own special magic and never more than when the Christmas lights decorate the night.
5) Get the richest fall foliage colors on overcast days and with a polarizers.
Many people think that the best time to capture the glory of autumn colors is on bright sunny days, but as every photographer knows bright sunlight is the worst time to see into the depth and richness of fall color. Intense sunlight reflects off the glossy foliage and blocks the rich colors underneath. My favorite time to shoot autumn color is on overcast days when the light is soft and comes from all directions. It is like a giant soft box. The light may have a slight blue tint, but that is easy to correct in post. When I can’t avoid the brilliant light, I look for shade or use a polarizing filter to mute the directional illumination.