8 Simple Steps towards better photos – part II

Eight simple steps toward making your images more visually interesting is a series of tips by Barb Gordon.  To see her bio and the first two tips, click here.  Today, Barb will cover the next two tips:

Tip #3 Cropping

Go ahead and cut through the top of a head or hat on someone’s head on purpose.  Look at the magazines, even scenes on television; they do it all of the time.  It adds drama to an image. It draws you to their eyes.  Yes, grandma will exclaim, “You cut her head off!”  It is an artistic decision.  They can learn to deal with it.

Not all images are improved by cropping. Sometimes a client will ask me “How will you crop that?”  I prefer to crop in the camera and get the shot I am visualizing at the moment. So what I show them is what it will look like. As mentioned in tip number one, over cropping after the image is taken degrades the image quality by only using a small part of the original file.

Be aware that even if a client likes a photographic style and comments on how much they like it, they may still not be comfortable with it on their own images. That happens quite a bit. Educating your client or subject will make it more acceptable to them, and maybe in time they will trust you to do something creative.

Go ahead and include some images that have dramatic cropping. It adds to the variety of choices. The client may not select them, and that’s okay. Put one on your wall as a display and enjoy the compliments.

Tip #4 Lens selection

The focal length of the lens you select and the aperture you shoot at also affects the look of your photograph.

For you techies, I realize that the size of the digital sensor can change the true results of our lenses. I explain focal length multiplier in my article “Getting Familiar with the Settings on your Camera for Better Image Control.” But for now, let’s keep it simple.

A standard 50mm lens that comes with most cameras sees like your eye does.  It sees a similar field of view of about 50-55 degrees.  It is the most natural look because it is like our eyes, but I find it so boring that I do not own a prime lens like this.

A wider angle lens, less than 50 mm, is going to see a wider view that your own eye can normally see. This is helpful when you want to record scenery. This makes for a great vacation lens.  Do be careful when using it for portrait work as you may get distortion. When working at a wide open f-stop you will need to be more careful on how you focus.

A telephoto lens, over 50mm, is going to have a tighter view and magnify the subject.  I think portraits look better this way.  The larger the number, the more magnification it has.

A macro lens is for getting close-ups of small items like flowers, insects, or other details. Use a tripod for best results and eliminate the blur that easily occurs from being at such close range.

In this example of Lightning the cat, you can see the difference of three different focal lengths.

The same lenses are used in the garden example. You may also notice that the background is softer, not as in focus, with the 105mm lens as the 28mm lens.

The aperture you select will also determine the look of your photograph. A large f stop number like f16 will have a greater depth of field than a small f stop number like f4.

The shutter speed you use also plays a part in the final look of the image. A faster shutter speed will stop motion and a slower shutter speed can show some blur.

Thanks, Barb!  We’ll continue next time as Barb discusses distortion, and expression.

Photography expert Barb Gordon, Master Photographer, publishes Barb Gordon Photo Coach’sShooting For Success ezine. If you’re ready to take your photography to the next level, get your FREE reports “Make Photography More than a Hobby” and “15 Ways to Make More Money with your Photography” now at http://www.BarbGordonPhotoCoach.com

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