If you’re near St Louis come see me this Friday and Saturday at Creve Coeur Camera! I’ll be teaching 101 classes in Studio Lighting, Green Screen, and Speedlight lighting. I’ll also be signing copies of my books, Portrait and Candid Photography and Make Money with your Digital Photography.
If you’re near St Louis come see me this Friday and Saturday at Creve Coeur Camera! I’ll be teaching 101 classes in Studio Lighting, Green Screen, and Speedlight lighting. I’ll also be signing copies of my books, Portrait and Candid Photography and Make Money with your Digital Photography.
Here’s a great idea to liven up any party or event – shoot pictures on green screen! You can set up the easy-to-use green screen backdrop virtually anywhere, then just pop them into the included Photo Illusions software for instant composite photos. Fast, fun, and affordable – your party will be a hit! Here are just a few images I created using the Erin Manning Creation Kit.
Watch this video and I’ll show you how I did it.
Learn how to photograph action sports shots of your family using a fast shutter speed, good lighting, and the right background. I’ll also show you how the right memory card is super important when capturing the action.
Check out these tips for capturing better baby photographs! I’ll show you how to set the scene for beautiful images, how to capture close-up images, and I’ll share information about using the right memory card in your camera so you never miss a shot.
This Digital Photography 101 DVD contains 21 short videos designed to entertain, educate, and inspire. The content is focused on the photo-beginner and enthusiast and makes the perfect gift for anyone interested in taking better pictures, from teenagers to seniors and everyone in between!
Here’s one of the videos from the DVD:
Memory Cards – What to Look for and How to Use Them
Join me November 10, 2012 at Mike’s Camera in Denver. I’ll be giving an instructional seminar “Lighting Basics – How to Shoot Professional-Looking Portraits” in the morning, then a hands-on workshop in the afternoon where you can put this practical knowledge to use. I’m excited to be presenting at the Mike’s Camera Learning Center and I hope to see you there!
Here are some easy ways to print and showcase your own art prints!
This video helps de-mystify a very important tool for capturing great photos and video – the memory card!
Part 1 of the very first episode on The Whole Picture.
Part 2 of the very first episode on The Whole Picture.
I had the best time teaching Digital Photo 101 at the BlogHer conference July 24th in Chicago – what a fun group! We planned to have the initial part of the class inside, which worked out great for learning about the camera functions, lighting basics and a little about composition. Next, we went outside for a hands-on lesson about working with natural light using reflectors and diffusers. The sun was in and out of the clouds that day, so it made for an interesting lighting lesson. Essentially, bring a reflector where ever you go (or learn to look for light surfaces for reflective light), it makes you look fabulous.
We picked a spot to set up along the Chicago River.
Here’s our (reflected) group shot, thanks Ashley!
“Group hug” or “Jump for joy” are a couple of good ideas when you’re thinking of things to do in a group picture.
I’m announcing the winners of my BlogHer Photo Contest later today (August 18th) so stay tuned for some wonderful images from the winners and great prizes!
1st Prize – F.J. Westcott 42″ 6-in-1 Reflector Kit
2nd Prize – $50 worth of Digital Photography Titles from Wiley
3rd Prize – A Gorillapod from Joby
All my BlogHer photo students – A one year premium membership to Club Smilebox (email me for the info!)
The three main areas we covered in my Digital 101 class at BlogHer were light, composition, and authenticity. My talented students picked up on the lessons very quickly and either found prior photos that would be appropriate or created new ones for submission into my BlogHer Photo Contest. After much deliberation the winners are…. drum roll please!
First Prize – Bridget Ivey aka QueenofHaddock
Very beautiful. I love the late afternoon quality of light and the timeless feel to the image. A candid shot often incorporates a person in a personal moment, unaware of the camera, and you’ve captured this moment as if it’s a memory the viewer is experiencing. You won a F.J. Westcott 42″ 6-in-1 Reflector Kit!
Second Prize – Cindy Streams aka CityStreams
This little boy looks so sweet and the image really tells a story. You’ve created a compelling composition with him in the foreground and the family visible, but blurred in the background. His expression is very authentic….as if he’s excited and proud to have a new baby in the family. You won $50 worth of Digital Photography Titles from Wiley!
Third Prize – Tara Gerner-Ziegmont aka FeelsLikeHomeBlog
Great shot! The color is vibrant, the composition interesting – nice use of the rule of thirds and the angle creates energy in the image. You won a dSLR Gorillapod from Joby!
Honorable Mention – Virginia DeBolt aka Veesees
The relationship between Mother and child evokes a warm and fuzzy feeling and the S-curve of the hand and little baby foot creates an interesting composition. Nice job. You won a Gorillapod Original from Joby!
Remember that all my BlogHer students win a premium subscription ($40 value) to Club Smilebox. Email me for details.
Thank you to everyone who participated! I enjoyed meeting you all and look forward to seeing more of your wonderful images online.
You bring your digital camera along everywhere you go, snapping photos of people, places, and things that are important to you (even if just for the moment). Problem is, you can’t seem to capture the image you were hoping for and you’re frustrated! Sound familiar?
With a few tips and a little knowledge about your digital camera, you can start capturing those special moments in a way that is both practical and gratifying. I’ll start with the problems, briefly explain why they occur, and follow up with some real-life solutions. In no time, you’ll be on your way to taking better photos!
READ MORE >
Whether you’re gathering for a family reunion, celebrating a birthday, or capturing your favorite sports team, a group photo is always a good idea. The problem is, a successful group photograph can be a challenge for even the most experienced photographer – from impatient subjects, to closed eyes, bored expressions, bad light, and blurry images, what’s a person to do? Don’t worry, with a few tips and a little practice you’ll feel confident about directing the group and your pictures will look fabulous.
1. Plan ahead.
No power means no pictures, so be prepared and charge your camera batteries ahead of time. Have one extra battery with you at all times and don’t forget to bring an extra memory card too.
2. Change your point of view.
If you’re photographing kids, get down on their level, and zoom in to fill the frame and capture their personality.
3. Keep it real.
You don’t need to say “cheese” to take a good picture, be encouraging and positive. Get people to laugh with you or give them something to do, and you’ll capture more natural expressions.
4. Don’t forget the details.
At the holidays, it’s the little things that count. Use your camera’s Macro Mode to get up close and capture the moment.
5. Be creative.
Our world is full of reflective surfaces, especially during the holidays – shiny ornaments, mirrors, windows, and water, are a few. Look around and see if you can find a unique way to reflect your world. This technique works best if you turn off your flash.
6. Control your flash.
The warm glow of lamps, candles, and outdoor lights are often blasted into darkness with an on camera flash. Here are two ways to remedy the problem:
• Turn off your flash and raise your ISO to let in more light and reduce blur.
• Use your camera’s Night Flash or Slow Synch setting to illuminate your scene. This setting uses a slower shutter speed to capture more ambient light in the background. Hold the camera very still or use a tripod to reduce blur.
7. Get together.
Take charge and do a little directing to gather everyone together and capture that group shot. Position your subjects in an overall shape, with some people sitting, some people standing, and in a variation of body angles towards the camera. Take multiple shots to ensure that everyone’s eyes are open in the final picture.
Pay attention to the background, you don’t want plants coming out of people’s ears or lamps coming out of their heads. You can choose something holiday related, but think “less is more.”
9. Capture the action.
When an emotion or reaction occurs, capture every second by using the Sports Mode setting on your camera. Some cameras allow you to hold your finger down on the shutter button to capture multiple frames in quick succession.
10. Compose your shot.
Create a visually interesting photograph by moving your subject off-center and use the “rule of thirds.” Visually divide your scene into thirds like a tic-tac-toe board and place something of interest at one or more of the intersections.
Whether it’s for social networking, a business website, or online dating, we all need a good portrait of ourselves. Now, thanks to technology, it’s possible to capture a professional-looking portrait in the comfort of your own home.
The quality and direction of light can make or break a photograph. Notice where the shadows are falling upon your subject and it’s easy to identify which direction the light is coming from.
• Top light is just like a sunny day at high noon – not attractive. Overhead light creates under-eye shadows.
• Front light is considered beauty light, because it minimizes wrinkles and bumps. The shadow under my subject’s nose indicates the light is placed in front of the face and above the eye line.
• Sidelight creates dimension and texture in your image. Sidelight is found outside in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is low in the sky.
Natural light can be beautiful, especially early in the morning and late in the afternoon, but you can’t rely on it. If you’re using an on-camera flash the results are often unflattering and difficult to control. That’s why it’s best to use a constant, flattering light source to achieve consistent results.
I discovered that a lot of people want professional-looking pictures without spending a lot of money, and they’re intimidated by the technology and price of professional lighting kits. So I teamed up with FJ Westcott to offer a safe, simple, “cool to the touch” daylight balanced lighting kit that makes you look good!
I took a picture of Karla on That Morning Show on E! Look at the results I achieved in the “After” photograph, just by using one of the Home Studio Lights.
Here are a few other tips for capturing a beautiful portrait:
• Tip 1: Look for a catch light in the eyes. This reflection of light in the eyes makes your subject come alive in the image.
• Tip 2: Give yourself room to zoom for a flattering perspective. If you want to fill the frame with your subject’s face, don’t use the wide-angle setting and move in close. Instead, stand back and give yourself room to zoom in with your telephoto lens to fill the frame.
• Tip 3: Create a more visually compelling image by using the “rule of thirds.” Visually divide your scene into thirds and place something of interest at one or more of the intersections.
These are just a few things you can do to improve your images and create amazing portraits that will make a lasting impression.
Watch the video to see a live demonstration!
Framing snapshots and creating calendars and coffee mugs with your images can be fun, but have you ever considered producing your own limited edition art prints? An art print conveys quality and creativity and by limiting the number of prints produced, you establish value to your series.
Art Prints are a great way to share your photos. They make beautiful personal gifts, lucrative crafts to sell, or eye-catching decoration.
It isn’t necessary to be a professional artist, photographer, or print maker to produce professional-looking results. All you need is a digital camera, computer, printer, special paper, a pencil and a desire to express your creativity.
Visit me at the Canon Digital Learning Center to read more!
Painting with light can produce images that range from ethereal and beautiful to funky and fun, but how do you paint with light? What are you painting with? What are you painting on? Is expensive equipment required? Why does this technique sound so mysterious?
Find out how! Read my article on the Canon Digital Learning Center
Are you tired of the same old ho-hum holiday snapshots? Would you like more consistent results when capturing those special moments? You’re not alone. Get a handle on this season’s shots with my Portrait and Candid Photography Workshop. This one-day-only event takes place on Saturday, November 20th, just in time for the holidays!
Click HERE to find out more.
I’ve had more than a few frantic phone calls this week from friends and family looking for photo gift advice. In the spirit of giving and sharing I’ve compiled a list on Amazon ranging from $20 on up. There is still time to order and receive before Christmas. Get this “to do” item off your list and start the holiday party! And P.S. – you’re welcome Maria, Karen, Faye, Scott, Wes, Jeff, and Bean
I’ve had requests lately for more information about macro photography taken with a compact camera, so as a little Valentine’s gift to you – I’ve written a step-by-step guide for capturing those close-ups.
Have you seen a beautiful photograph in a book or magazine that captures all the detail of a flower or insect, close-up? The art of taking pictures of things extremely close-up is called macro photography. Professional photographers have expensive cameras and lenses that enable them to capture these macro shots in great detail, but did you know that your compact digital camera is also capable of macro shots? You’ve probably already noticed it, but let me formally introduce you to the flower icon on the back of your camera – it looks like this:
Pressing this flower icon button and activating the macro mode will enable you to focus closer to your subject and capture details in your images that were previously too small or out of focus. For comparison, most compact digital cameras set in macro mode will focus approximately 1 to 1.5 feet away from the subject versus normal mode that focuses about 3 feet away. And just because Macro Mode is represented by a flower doesn’t mean that flowers are the only allowable subject. Get creative with a few of the following macro photo ideas:
• Flowers and insects
• The human eye
• Baby’s fingers and toes
• Textural detail in fabric, stone or wood
• Coins and collectables
• Documenting serial numbers on electronic items
• Greater detail in your online auction images
The list is endless! Let’s get started – here are the steps and a few tips for taking better macro shots with your digital camera:
1. Turn on the macro mode by pressing the flower icon (make sure the icon appears in your LCD viewfinder).
2. Compose your shot and press your shutter button halfway down to lock in the exposure and focus.
3. Experiment with the angle and distance to your subject until the focus looks sharp in your LCD viewfinder.
4. Close proximity to your subject increases the shallow-depth-of-field blur. Keep your camera parallel to your subject for a sharper image.
5. Experiment with your camera’s zoom feature until you are happy with the perspective.
6. Now depress your shutter button all the way down to record the shot.
Problem: Under-exposed images
Solution: Move to another location or increase the strength of your light source.
Problem: Blurry images – Getting close-up magnifies more than your subject, it also increases the potential of image blur because your subject or your camera moves slightly.
Solution: To decrease the blur in your photos, stabilize your camera on a table or use a mini-tripod. To further ensure that your camera doesn’t move, use your camera’s self-timer feature and set it to 2 seconds.
Tips and tricks
• Use a magnifying glass in front of your lens to get even closer to your subject. The results can be really unusual.
• Capture water droplets on your flower images by spraying water on the petals right before the shot.
• Diffuse harsh light by using tissue paper or a transparent, white plastic grocery bag between your light source and your subject.
• Reflect light into your scene with tin foil or a car dashboard reflector.
I bring my little digital camera with me everywhere. If you see me in a restaurant, I’ll be the woman photographing not only my friends but also the table utensils, salt shaker and candle.
Macro photography opens up a whole new world of photo opportunities, and anything is possible! Look around and begin to explore. Once you see the detail in everyday objects, you’ll be hooked.
Learn some great tips and techniques when you sign up for my Digital Photography 101 class! From megapixels to managing the light, your photographs will dramatically improve once you master these easy-to-understand lessons.
This four-week class covers the very basics—from exploring your digital camera (compact or entry-level dSLR), to shooting in natural light, and fine-tuning your images with fundamental composition techniques.
SIGN UP HERE!
My friends at Write.Click.Scrapbook included me in their latest guest blog post to share my personal photography philosophy. The intent is to inspire you and ignite your creativity! Click HERE to read the post.
Are your vacation photos looking a little…blah? Are people falling asleep during your slideshows? Help is on the way!
Check out my guest post for Animoto
Let me show you how easy it is to get started with Photoshop Elements. It’s the easy way to edit, create, share, and view your images.
Erin Manning’s NEW Digital Photography 101 DVD
Are your pictures looking a little…blah? Are you overwhelmed with all your camera options? Would you like to know more about the light and composing a good shot? Do those “techie” videos make your brain turn off and your eyes glaze over? You’re in the right place. This DVD is focused on the photo-beginner and enthusiast. It also makes the perfect gift for anyone interested in taking better pictures, from teenagers to seniors and everyone in between!
Ring in the New Year with beautiful baby pictures! The following excerpt from Chapter 8 in my latest book, Portrait and Candid Photography 2nd Edition, will help you create images that are treasured forever.
GET COMFORTABLE WITH THE BABY
The term “comfort” is subjective for many adults, but for babies there is a special formula to ensure their comfort. If you intend to shoot for more than 30 seconds and capture happy, spontaneous expressions, these guidelines should help.
Plan the timing
One way to photograph babies is to make sure they are already rested, fed, and changed before your photo shoot; then position them in the area you’ve prepared for the photo session. Another way is to follow the action in a photojournalistic manner and record moments during a baby’s daily rituals. Either way, you need to adjust your photo shoot around the baby’s schedule. Every infant has a ritual of eating, sleeping, bathing, and changing with some crying, bonding, and play intertwined. If you’re the parent, by now you know your child’s optimum times for interacting. If you’re photographing someone else’s baby and don’t have all day to follow the action, be sure to communicate with the parents about the baby’s schedule. Ask them when the child seems most engaged — some babies are more alert in the morning, while others seem more animated in the afternoon. Ciaran, perched on his father’s shoulder, had just finished a nap and was giggling at my assistant’s funny faces when I captured the shot in 8-1.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO Ciaran faces indirect window light as he looks over his father’s shoulder. The sepia image and sloppy border effect was created with Silver Efex Pro™ 2 – Nik Software. Taken at ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/160 sec. with a Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 lens.
Create the right environment
If you show up with a camera and abruptly start shooting pictures, you run the risk of upsetting the baby and missing out on those special moments you intended to photograph. If you aren’t familiar with the baby, take the time to slowly introduce yourself with smiles and coos, get down on the baby’s level, and say hello. If you plan on getting in close for upcoming baby shots, it’s a good idea to introduce your camera, too.
My photo shoot with 7-month old Lily and her family began inside my house, as we looked over clothing, smoothed over hair, and prepared to go outside. This gave me time to meet, coo, and play with Lily a little bit before the shoot. In 8-2, Lily and her mother shared an embrace at the beach while I captured the candid moments.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO The weather was temperate at the beach, and 7-month year old Lily had on a sweet little dress, but her mother brought along a warm blanket too. Taken at ISO 320, f/4.0, 1/250 sec. with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens.
When babies feel comfortable with your presence and your camera, they soon forget the camera and this can lead to capturing many memorable pictures.
Just like Baby Bear’s porridge, the temperature must be “just right” for the baby, which means it errs on the warm side. If you are inside, make sure the shooting environment is cozy and quiet. Music can also influence the ambiance. Newborn babies are soothed by soft music and are startled and frightened by loud, unexpected noises. For a more active photography session, older babies through toddlers can be energized by rhythmic dance music.
You might be short on time or frustrated with your equipment, the light, or other people in the room, but do not allow this stress to enter into the shoot. Babies and toddlers are human sponges, picking up all the emotions and tension in the room. Take a deep breath, be patient, and don’t let any negativity ruin your baby photo session. These moments are important and priceless.
Accommodate for the age
Depending on the age of the baby you are photographing, certain challenges can be expected. For example, newborn infants are like rag dolls and must be held for any pose, while 18-month-old babies will be walking, exploring, and playing, and unless they are sleeping, in constant movement. The following list explains how babies generally behave and respond according to their age, as well as offers ideas for forming your approach:
* Zero to three months. Babies in this age range have no mobility or strength. Unless they’re sleeping or in horizontal poses, they must be held for a photograph. They sleep a lot. Take some shots of the baby sleeping and being held by friends or family members, and don’t forget those close-up pictures of fingers and toes. Anya is only six weeks old and needs to be held in order to take the photo, as shown in 8-5. Outside, in soft, open shade, I positioned her in the doorway and zoomed in close to capture her expressions and isolate her from the background, as shown in 8-6 and 8-7. This helped eliminate any surrounding distractions and you’d never know that she was being held.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO This little baby needed to be held, but I was still able to capture some great shots. Taken at ISO 200, f/4.0, 1/200 sec. with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO Zooming in to the frame with a telephoto lens helps eliminate any background distractions. Taken at ISO 200, f/4.0, 1/250 sec. with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO Getting in close to the baby provides an intimate feel to the image. Taken at ISO 200, f/4.0, 1/250 sec. with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens.
* Three to six months. They can raise their heads and chests when they are put down on their tummies. Take shots of the baby lying on the floor, in a crib, or with a parent, or position the baby over a blanket mound or sofa cushion. Little three-month old Poppy is positioned on a furry blanket in a classic baby portrait pose in figure 8-6.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO Three-month-old Poppy was comfortable and happy when I positioned her on a warm blanket. Taken at ISO 400, f/4.0, 1/1000 sec. with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
* Six to nine months. Most babies are beginning to sit up on their own and can feed themselves with finger foods. You can creatively pose them, but prepare for movement at any time. Think about taking candid action shots when they are eating or playing. Six-month-old Amelia was sitting at a table, happily playing with her toys when I captured the candid moment shown in 8-7.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO By positioning myself at Amelia’s level and remaining ready with the shutter button, I was able to capture a natural expression in this photograph. Taken at ISO 200, f/5.0, 1/100 sec. with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens.
* Nine to twelve months. Now they are reaching for toys, can pull themselves up, and may be beginning to walk. Capture a moment with a baby and his blanket or favorite stuffed animal. Figure 8-8 captures a playful moment between eleven-month-old Mia and
ABOUT THIS PHOTO I placed Mia on her dad’s lap and took a lot of photographs when they began to play. Taken at ISO 400, f/11.0, 1/125 sec. with a Canon EF 17-35mm f/2.8 lens.
* Eighteen months. The baby is walking — get ready to follow the action! The world is a new and exciting place for babies and toddlers. Try to capture their interactions and fascination with the experience. Eighteen-month-old Natalie is full of wonderful expressions as she reacts to her mother’s storytelling in figure 8-8.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO Natalie was running around the house but stopped to listen to her mother’s stories. Taken at ISO 400, f/4.0, 1/1000 sec. with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Less is more when taking beautiful baby portraits. Think Zen. Clean, calm environments with few people, minimal noise, and unobstructed backgrounds allow you to focus completely on the baby and produce quality images that everyone wants to see.
I hope the information from this excerpt has been helpful. Now it’s time to get out there and take some pictures!
Click HERE to find out more about my new book Portrait and Candid Photography, 2nd Edition.
Copyright © 2012 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Take the time to notice someone’s special qualities, observe how they react, and make an effort to authentically connect. People want to feel respected and appreciated. If you show an interest and help them feel more comfortable, they will respond to you and your camera.
One way to create flattering portraits is to shoot during the golden hours, generally the first hour and last hour of sun during the day. At these times, your subject can face the sun without squinting, because the light is diffuse and soft and it’s easy to capture a sparkle in the eye.
Avoid harsh overhead light by placing your subject in the soft light of open shade. Open shade can be found beneath a tree, under the porch of a house, in a doorway, under an umbrella, or in the shade of a building.
Get rid of shadows and liven up the catch light in your subject’s eyes by bouncing light back onto them with a reflector. Whether it’s a professional reflector, white board, or tin foil on a cookie sheet, reflecting light gives you more control over the light in your photo.
Use a framing element to give your image context, depth, and lead the viewer’s eye towards your subject. A tree branch, doorways, archways, windows – any open shape that surrounds your subject in the foreground of your scene will work.
When you’re having your picture taken, you can’t see how you look, which makes some people very self-conscious. People need feedback from their photographer. Encouraging comments and direction really help your subjects loosen up in front of the lens.
Wondering how to create that blurred background effect in your images? Just set your camera to Aperture Priority (AV), choose a large aperture setting (represented by a small number (like f/2.8, f/3.5, f/4, f/5.6), stand back from your subject and zoom in to fill the frame. That’s all you have to think about, the camera makes the decision about the shutter speed for you, depending on the light in your scene.
Most people are happier when they are doing things they like to do or spending time with people they care about. When photographing kids, include their friends, family, pets, or toys and watch the fun begin.
Here’s a little video clip from the educational DVD included in my Home Studio Lighting Kit. It’s a painless way to learn about lighting ratios using constant lights.
Part 1 of the Macro Photography segment on The Whole Picture.
This video clip is from the educational DVD included in my Home Studio Lighting Kit. Watch to learn more about using a reflector with constant lights and how to create your own Facebook profile picture.
Part 1 of the Action Photography segment on The Whole Picture.
Part 2 of the Action Photography segment on The Whole Picture.
Learn how to light kids at home and capture real moments!
Part 2 of the Macro Photography segment on The Whole Picture.
A quick tutorial on assembling the Home Studio Lighting Kit. It’s easy!