I want to drop a little knowledge bomb on you every once in a while so I’m going to be sharing some tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way that generally make my life and photographs better, I sincerely hope that they are of use to you.
On metering (assessing the light and selecting the correct exposures): For those of you less fortunate souls (like myself) who can’t afford to buy all kinds of photo goodies like a hand held light meter and instead use the one built into their SLR camera, here are a couple techniques/tricks I use to ensure the best possible exposure.
- Many people don’t know/realize that instead of using a grey card (which is totally inconvenient by the way), you can use the palm of your hand. The light reflected from your hand is nearly equivalent to the 18% grey cards used by many photographers, and comes in way more handy (pun intended) when you’re out and about without your bag of gear.
- A really good way to become comfortable selecting proper shutter speeds for the best exposure with “difficult” shots (anything with interesting lighting basically) is to always bracket shots that are giving you weird meter readings. Say a night time shot, or a weird shadowy shot that would normally be washed out due to your light meter wanting to make everything neutral- you can bracket up or down, which means exposing for a stop more or stop less than what is suggested. It’s a really good way to get a feel for your camera and how to correctly identify exposures- in the long run the more you train your eye the less you need to rely on light meters. I like the least amount of crap with me when I go shooting- some photographers are the opposite and want every gadget available, it’s all a matter of preference.
Lighting & composition (outdoors): it’s really easy to fall into the pattern of photographing something already “perfectly” lit (even & head on) and then just upping the contrast in the darkroom (real or digital) so here are a couple reminders about lighting.
- Take a minute to look at your subject and note the direction of light, if it is head on, change your angle by at least 90 degrees, shadows create a much more interesting photo than one that has only middle tones.
- If you want the good shadows and not the bad and you’re getting funky shadows on someone’s huge honker bust out that ghetto reflector card (I’m all about budget photography)- grab anything with a white surface (scratch paper works) and use it as an on the spot reflector to bounce some of the light back to fill in those shadowy areas on the face. (this is probably best with b&w film)
- Play with your lighting options, look at every angle through your viewfinder and don’t be afraid to get low or high or even sideways, shoot. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your lighting options either, I once shot portraits out in a field in the middle of the night using only the light from my cars headlights on bright- I actually got some pretty interesting shots that night.
I know I’m not a pro, but I feel like these tips are good things to know for anyone interesting in taking photos. I really do hope they help you all because they sure have helped me.
Oh and those pictures I was talking about…these would be with the assistance of a very beat up 96 camry and my headlights on high…(disclaimer, they are digital- le gasp!)
PS. Are all 2 of my readers sick of my alliterations yet? Haha.