8 Simple Steps towards better photos – part IV

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, or view part two here and part three here.  Today, Barb presents the final two steps in this series.

Tip #7 Color

Our eye wants to look at the brightest area of an image first. If you want the center attention to be the face, a really bright orange shirt, pretty as it may be, will only detract from that great expression you just captured.  Oftentimes a portrait client will want to wear something that makes them feel good. That wild stripe shirt or loud graphic often is not the best choice for a portrait as it demands a lot of attention. A solid color that matches or is close to your subject’s eye color will really be more attractive.

This lady in our sample images loves to wear red. It is an understandable selection for an outgoing, fun loving person, but not the best choice for a professional portrait. Pair that up with the corporate white shirt and power tie. It makes sense. However! The red is so powerful and demands so much attention that it is not my idea of a great professional image. After a consultation with me where I showed them other possibilities and suggestions, they selected softer colors that let you see their faces first. After that you can appreciate the understated details of a well coordinated wardrobe. (This couple volunteered to dress this way for me for demonstration purposes. We are not hurting anyone’s feelings.)

Tip #8 Exposure

This is a big in-depth topic as it has so many variables. One change you can make is to be aware that the exposure will be difficult when photographing very light and very dark items at the same time. The large amount of contrast is difficult to record well.

That is why I prefer overcast days, big clouds over the sun in a bright sky, or working in complete shade.  If you can place your subject in the shade, so they can have their eyes open and not have a really bright sky or hot spot behind them, that will look much nicer than out in full sun with harsh shadows and squinty eyes.

I am also assuming that you are using automatic settings at this point.  Be sure to check out my blog because in the future I will cover more details on the settings of a camera and how to use them. I will also be having more advanced articles on exposure, metering, and histograms.

The type of scene to avoid for the beginner is like this image.  Notice the reflection off of the metal roof, the bright spots on the grass and the very black horse head that has no detail?  Not the best place to photograph at four in the afternoon.  One remedy would be to go out at almost sunset or sunrise when the shadows are long and the light is softer.  We call that “sweet light.” Other solutions (that would be easier if it wasn’t a prey animal we were dealing with) would be a more evenly shaded area, adding reflection or extra lighting.

Go out and shoot!

With practice, these eight tips will become easier to do in your everyday photography.  Eventually, these steps will become practically automatic, and you won’t have to try to remember them. Then you can move on to other techniques and acquire more skills.

Photography expert Barb Gordon, Master Photographer, publishes Barb Gordon Photo Coach’s Shooting 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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