March Presentation – How to take better holiday snapshots (from snapshots to great shots!)

These notes may be found at https://billspracticeblog.wordpress.com/

Introduction
This presentation will cover how to take better holiday snapshots. It will look at:

1.       Encourage you to take fewer but better shots by taking the time to plan the shot

2.       What equipment that you may need.

3.       How to hold your camera steady while snapping away.

4.       Post production of your snapshots.

5.       Sharing your snapshots with the world!

 

 

My opinions only!
This presentation is based on my personal experiences (as well as lack of experience) with my beginning to learn about photography three years ago after I retired. Before that I took only the occasional snapshot of family and friends.

As I became more involved as a beginner, I was amazed at the learning curve involved with photography.

In this discussion, there is a lot that will be left out simply because

  1.  I don’t know about it.
  2. It is not needed for the entry level that is being discussed. I have been asked to keep it as simple as possible.

At the end of each section of this talk, time will be allowed for members of the audience to contribute their knowledge.

Part 1 – Equipment needed

Let’s start with what you will need to be able to get better vacation snapshots:

  • New camera
  • Tripod
  • Manual (RTM)
  • Spare battery,
  • Cables,
  • Extra storage card
  • A storage bag for all the bits and pieces that you pick up along the way (lens spray cleaner, lens wipes, cotton buds, . . . )

Please note that you may be perfectly happy using your iPhone or iPad to take snapshots. But for the purpose of this presentation which is to suggest how you can take better snapshots, my personal preference is for a point and shot camera.

(A) A new camera
I want one that is simple to use and big enough to suit my fingers. If it is too small, then it becomes really frustrating. I would rather not have this:

 

Nor do I want to have one like this:

 

I would like a camera that fits easily into my pocket and that I can use easily and quickly.This is the one that I was using a few years ago. It is nice and easy to operate. there is only the On/Off switch, the shutter button, the zoom  toggle and the mode selector dial. That’s all. Easy peasy!

Recommendation
There may be some members who would rather be told what to go out and buy.

If I was buying a new point and shoot camera, after a bit of research, I would get the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS / IXUS 285 HS for less than $300 AU. But there are the other bits and pieces that you may decide that you want or need.

For example – http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1210602-REG/canon_1081c001_powershot_elph_360_hs.html/c/product/#inpage:in+stock?gclid=CLrz9oqzlMsCFVgjvQodTcINCw

So that’s almost another $100 of items that you might need to go with the camera.

Pause for comments and suggestions from the audience.

(B) A tripod, manual, spare battery and memory cards, cables, storage bag.
I won’t worry about going into these any further for now. The salesman will be happy to help you with these items.

Part 2 – Holding your camera/iPhone/iPad steady
I’m going to take a break now and let you watch a video on how to hold your camera/iPhone/iPad to reduce the blur of camera shake.

(A) How to hold a point and shoot camera

Note that Tony Page from the video that you just saw also has further information on tripods and monopods that you may want to watch as well.


(B) How to hold an iPhone
I just learned how to do this. Now I can take selfies! The image below shows how to hold your iPhone with one hand so that your thumb can press the shudder.

 

You can use your left hand to steady the iPhone and to touch the screen for where you want to focus.

Since the only thing that is moving is your thumb, there is much less camera shake.

To me this is a much simpler way than trying to use the increase volume button as an alternative shudder button.

A third way is to use the volume button on your ear plugs cable.

This is an area that I am totally ignorant. Any suggestions from the audience?

Pause for comments and suggestions from the audience.

You can find lots more information about taking iPhone/iPad photos at this website:

http://www.imore.com/how-to-take-photos-camera-iphone-ipad

(C) How to hold an iPad
The image below shows one way to hold your iPad to take a photo:

 

Joel Johnson addressed the problem of looking like a dork when you take a photo with an iPad. He summed it up pretty well when he wrote:

Thing is, a tablet is actually a pretty great all-in-one photo studio. You’ve got a bigger screen to use while framing your shot. Photo editing and manipulation after the shot is a lot more pleasant on a tablet than it is on a phone. (So much room for activities!) Gathering friends around a tablet to show them your shots later is much better using a tablet than a phone. It’s all right there. Source: http://gizmodo.com/whats-so-wrong-about-taking-photos-with-an-ipad-1039994284

But we losing the plot a bit here. We started with the aim of taking better holiday snaps by using a camera/iPhone/iPad that we have with us at the moment. Our whole aim is to keep it simple.

So have a go with these ways of holding your camera/iPhone/iPad and see if your snapshots are looking less blurred.

Practice may not make things perfect, but it may help to improve them! Go for a daily walk with your camera/iPad/iPhone and take a bunch of snaps. Don’t worry about what you photograph, just try to hold your devise as steady as you can. When you get home, load the pictures into your large screen desktop and see if there is any improvement.

If not, then you may need to consider using a tripod.

Pause for Comments and suggestions from the audience.

(1) How do you manage to see what is on the LED screen when you are out in bright sunlight?

 

 

(D) Using a tripod
A tripod improves your holiday snaps as soon as you begin to use it. First, it gives you a steady platform that lets you eliminate any camera shake.

But more importantly, a tripod forces you to take more time to think about your snapshots. Instead of ten mediocre shots you now get one much improved one.

Setting up with a tripod gets you thinking about composition – the ways that you set up the photo so that it really tells a story and looks fantastic.

Your tripod can be a full size one or it can be a miniature one

So let’s start with this video about setting up a tripod.

It is possible to buy a holder for your iPhone/iPad to mount it on your tripod the same as you would a camera. Here is one that you can get from Harvey Norman for $22.

1_37_478

iPad holder from Harvey Norman.

 

004

iPad holder from Harvey Norman

 

 

Now we have had few tips on how to reduce blurred snaps due to camera shake. And we have looked at the possibility of getting a tripod.

The other point that goes with a tripod is to learn how to use the timer on your camera. Mine is set to 3 seconds and one shot. This means that I can push the shutter button down to the half way point to get it to focus and to see that it is focused where I want it to be (such as a person’s eyes in a portrait). when it looks OK, I push the button down the rest of the way and step back. The timer kicks in and the three second delay gives the camera and the tripod a chance to settle down so that there is no blur or shake.  Next, the camera takes the shot. And that should give me a snapshot without blur or camera shake.

But the best is yet to come. Let’s look at how you can compose your snapshots and with a little bit of extra time and planning your snapshots will improve dramatically.

Pause for Comments and suggestions from the audience.

Part 3 – Composition
The Nikon USA website has a good explanation of what composition is:

You may not realize it, but every time you bring your camera up to your eye you’re making decisions about composition. Simply put, composition is how you choose to frame the picture you’re about to make. Many books have been written about composition, and while no two people are likely to frame the same scene the same way, there are some general guidelines that can help you improve your photos and make them more interesting and engaging. (Source: http://www.nikonusa.com/en/learn-and-explore/article/h7dfrceh/5-easy-composition-guidelines.html)

Here is a short introduction from the same website to the basic five rules of photographic composition:

http://www.nikonusa.com/en/learn-and-explore/article/h7dfrceh/5-easy-composition-guidelines.html

Now let me show you two more clips from Mike Brown. He may be a bit difficult to understand with his strong accent, but it is worth the effort. These will follow up on two of the rules from the Nikon video that we just watched.

The first one is about the rule of thirds:

The second clip is about leading lines:

Mike Brown had what is pretty much a free intro to improving your photography on his YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs4S07E5NC0R7pVuzBJ0e8Q. Then he as his own commercial website at http://www.photographycourses.biz/leading_lines.html. I hope that you enjoy his sense of humour and tips and tricks as much as I have.

This is just a brief introduction to the world of composition. But I cannot think of any better way for you to improve your holiday snapshots then by spending the time and effort to plan and compose your shot before pressing the shutter button. Sorry. That should be SQUEEZING the shutter button.

Well, we are getting towards the end. We have looked at what you might need for equipment, how to hold the camera steady, and how to compose your shots. What is next is taking your images from your camera to your computer and then going through and culling the ones that are not worth keeping. I know that this is a hard step for you. But you need to do it.

Pause for Comments and suggestions from the audience.

Part 4 – Saving, storing, deleting and sharing the photos
There are a variety of ways that you can save and store your photos. I am only going to discuss the ways that I use. When I am finished, I will open the floor again to advice from the peanut gallery. For those of you that you used to watch Howdy Doody like I did.

(A) I did it my way (with a cable!)
I just use a cable from my camera/iPhone/iPad to my laptop/desktop computer.

There are a whole heap of programs that you can use to import and organise your snapshots. Some are free, like Picassa and Photos. While others. Such as Photoshop Elements and Lightroom, you have to buy.

Now for the bad news. The AUSOM photography SIG has a guideline of one photo worth keeping for every hundred that they snap. A professional photographer expects to get one great photo once a year. This means that you have to be ruthless in deleting images that you will not use.

The normal procedure is to import your images, go through them one by one and rating them (three stars to look at again). Deleting all that have no stars. Repeating the procedure but rating some with four stars. Deleting the three star photos. And finally, repeating it again with a five star rating for the ones that you still like best. Then delete all the four star images.

Be ruthless!

(B) Using a wireless connection
There is a large blank space here because I do not use a wireless connection or the cloud for storing photos. Any comments and suggestions from the audience would be appreciated.

 

Pause for Comments and suggestions from the audience.

(C) Storing your photos
Normal guideline is to save to your computer and separate backups to another onsite hard disk drive and an off site hard disk drive. The thinking here is that if your house burns down, you still have the spare off site hard disk drive that you can access.

There are some excellent articles in past issues of AUSOM News by Dick Johnson that will quickly set you up with a dependable back up system.

Pause for Comments and suggestions from the audience.

(D) Sharing your holiday snaps
Any time that I go to save an image, I am given a choice of ways to share it – Flickr, Notes, Message, Mail, iCloud Photo Sharing, Save to PDF to iBooks, Twitter, and Facebook. How could I forget Pinterest and all those others?

About the only ones that I use would be Flickr and Dropbox. It is nice to know that I have all those options for sharing my holiday snaps. But I will just stay with my Flickr and Dropbox account

Pause for Comments and suggestions from the audience.

Part 5 – Post Production (How to turn a good snap into a great photo!)
For me, the part that I enjoy most is the post production where I can edit an image, print it,  frame it and put it up on my I Love Me wall (where no one else can see it).

The software that I use includes Photoshop Elements, Photoshop, and Lightroom. These all get mentioned in the Photoshop SIG, so come along and join in the fun. There are also free editing programs such as GIMP and Picassa that do similar editing effects.

The images that I have shown below are before and after images done with Photoshop elements

 

 

There will be a short demonstration of using the different edit modes in Photoshop Elements to entice members to come along to the Photoshop session that follows this presentation.

 

Conclusion

Thanks for coming along for the presentation today and I hope that you will try some of the ideas.

If you have any questions, please email me at photoshop@ausom.net.au

 

That’s all, folks!

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About woldham

Concise! Retired and loving it!
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