Project Alicia : Spring Yields Great Action Shots, Plus 5 Photo Tips

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring Yields Great Action Shots, Plus 5 Photo Tips

Today is Day 3 of my 30 Days of Spring Photo Challenge. Feel free to jump in any time. It runs through May 15th. What images are you capturing for spring?

If you don't want to do an everyday thing or a blog post, just add your photos to my 30 Days of Spring Flickr Group. I am so excited by the lovely spring images that are coming in. You should stop by and check them out. And keep 'em coming.

The linky will also remain open until may 15th.

When I think of spring I think of soccer. Ever since Little Man was a wee little thing we have been doing soccer. It is something he is very passionate about and we have tried to support him in this endeavor.

Photobucket
Canon 50D, Canon 105mm, f/6.3, 1/640 sec, ISO 320.

Photobucket
Canon 50D, Canon 135mm, f/5.6, 1/640 sec, ISO 320.

Photobucket
Canon 50D, Canon 105mm, f/6.3, 1/640 sec, ISO 320.

Photobucket
Canon 50D, Canon 80mm, f/5, 1/640 sec, ISO 320.

I admit, today I am cheating just a little. These pics were actually taken last Sunday when it was 85 degrees outside. This weekend's soccer tourny has been all consuming, so I thought these would be appropriate. Unfortunately the temps were so bitterly cold that it was all I could do to keep my hands from shaking, let alone take decent pics. I'm ready for a week of regular spring temps please. Are you listening? Mother nature, I'm talking to you.

I have had several questions regarding my photography of late and although I am far from any kind of expert on the subject, I am willing to share the little I know. I received a sweet email from Heidi Polson a few weeks ago while en route to SC for spring break. She has a young child and is struggling to capture the milestones of her little one. She wanted to know if I had any tips to share.

The information I offer is only my opinion and a more advanced photographer may offer different advice, but these are my thoughts for what it's worth.

Today's digital world has opened new opportunities for all photographers, whether you are a newbie or a pro, technology is your friend.

Here are my 5 Photo Tips for the day.

1. Take LOTS of photos. Unlike those days of film, digital cameras allow you to instantly view the results and delete whatever photos you are unhappy with. Some pros may say that it only takes one great shot, but in my opinion they are lying. Even when you have all the settings just perfect it may take a couple dozen tries to achieve the perfect shot. My last trip to SC yielded over 800 photos. We were gone for six days. You do the math. I had a little over a hundred I compiled into "my favs".

Sometimes you take 100 photos and they are all crap. You may remember this collage...

Photobucket

Nothing spectacular, but it sure does make a fun collage when they are clumped together. So, don't trash all of them. Be creative.

2. Have your camera ready. This may seem like a no brainer, but if you are never ready with camera in hand you will miss endless photo opportunities.

Like this.
Photobucket

Or this.
Photobucket

Or a million other times.

I have 2 SLR cameras, 2 point and shoots, 5 lenses, 3 batteries, and 5 cards. One battery is always charging at all times. Some may think this is nuts, but I would like to think I am prepared.

3. Use photo editing programs. Perfect pics are hard to come by. But why settle? You can use picasa or photoscape for free as well as tons of other programs. And photoshop elements is an inexpensive way to get photos like the pros. It also allows you to make beautiful collages or scrapbook pages. And once you use textures or actions you will never go back.

Here is one example of actions. This is Florabella's "Jane" action and PW's (Pioneer Woman's) "Bring Out the Eyes" action. A fast, easy way to brighten and bring out the eyes. These are subtle changes, but they sure make a difference.

Photobucket

If you want to learn more about actions, such as where to find them or how to download them, check out my Photography Tips to Enhance Your Blog. It's packed with links.

But don't think you are limited or settling if you don't own photoshop or CS or lightroom, when you get more comfortable with elements you can produce images like this...

Photobucket

4. Know your camera. There are some that will tell you that you can not produce nice photos in auto. I beg to differ. With all of the fabulous cameras and photo enhancing software, you can definitely achieve fab photos even in automatic settings. For those of you that are new to SLRs or new to photography, this is a great starting point.

However, I will say that you can not produce phenomenal photos in automatic. I have recently ventured into the manual world of photography and I have to admit- it's been a lot of fun. The difference between auto and manual is the ability for you to control the outcome of your photos. Auto is good. It chooses settings that are safe and almost always produces nice photos, but the camera is not smart enough to know what time of day it is or how fast the waterfall is flowing. Or that little man is running really fast. YOU do. You can up the ISO for lower lighting or decrease the shutterspeed to capture the waterfall perfectly. For little man's soccer pics above I used shutter priority on manual TV mode and just amped the shutter speed. Then I applied Florabella's "bw film" action.

By lowering the f-stop (widening aperture; thus allowing more light) you also can control the depth of field for your photos. This is where lens selection comes into play. While the standard lenses that come with your camera are good, they are not going to be able to produce these results (see below). The lower the f-stop (or the wider the aperture), the more shallow the depth of field, allowing your photo to draw attention to your subject by blurring the background.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

There will be times that you will want a higher f-stop (or narrower aperture) to allow for a deep depth of field, making almost everything in your photo in focus, such as a landscape photo.

Photobucket

5. Have fun. I hope this has not been too technical. There are oodles and oodles of technical terms. And endless learning opportunities. They will come, in time. I have only scratched the surface of what I will be able to accomplish. Don't be intimidated by it all. Down the road take a class if you can. The most important part is to get out there and have fun.

I often feel like my passion compensates for any lack of equipment or technical skill. Whatever mode you choose, start snappin.

That is all I have for now. Don't forget to stop over and check out some of the beautiful photos in my flickr group.

Grab the button if you want to play along.

Project Alicia

20 comments:

  1. Oh, Lish! I am so inspired by your photos! Definitely makes me want to capture more moments for posterity!!! (And really, it makes me want to LIVE more moments!!)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks so much for the tips - you have beautiful pictures - I have and DSLR that I am learning to use and am getting happier with my pics - and I have recently started using my iPhone camera for on the go - but I am thinking about getting a point and shoot for my purse!

    ReplyDelete
  3. great tips dear girl!! *love* your photos and i'm SO glad to have stopped by...one professional photography put my mind at ease when i was transitioning to manual...{a great photo is a great photo no matter if you shoot manual or automatic...}while i am shooting in manual now, i think some of my favorite and most cherished photos where captured in automatic when i wasn't stressing about settings and just seeing {life} in front of me...

    hope your weekend warms up some! :0)

    prairie xo
    kristin

    ReplyDelete
  4. Love your soccer photos especially the very last one! Love the composition of that one. Great tips too! If it ever warms up around here I would love to join in your 30 days of Spring.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love the pic of your son and the frog, that is so awesome! Thank you for the tips, I have a canon powershot Sz130, it's a point and shoot but has a bigger lens and such... Any tips with a point and shoot for better pics would be appreciated!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great tips! Sometimes the basic, most common-sense stuff that we need to remember is the easiest to forget. Since I found manual, I'm just in love with it. I still cannot download actions and so have to do everything from scratch... my learning curve is really slow, but it's coming. I have to say, I like everything you said. I WILL set up a photo for several minutes to get a good one, but I'm not going to only do that. I'm going to snap and snap and snap away! I'd have missed lots of fabulous surprise shots if I only set them up. And here's another tip: you know how you're always supposed to use a tripod for ready good focus? I never remember mine. Everything is hand shot. Again, a slow learning curve, but I like to think it's making me an even better photographer. ;)

    By the way: love those soccer action shots! Great job! :D

    ReplyDelete
  7. love the tips! In your last shot- the flower one- how did you get the sky AND the flowers exposed right?

    ReplyDelete
  8. beautiful!! Thanks for the tips!!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Handsome little man looks like professional soccer player:)
    You asked me where I find all my flowers which I shoot since nothing is blooming yet, I bye them from flower shop. Once a week I go to local flower shop and buy few flowers just for photographing purposes and of course to cheer me up. Since flowers are very expensive here I always buy just 2-3 flower never like a whole bouquet.
    Have a nice week and say hello to soccer star:)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Those action shots are unreal! Have fun indeed

    ReplyDelete
  11. That little frog is still a fave. So fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Those tips were great! I'm glad you're in manual now. Wouldn't have known you were shooting auto before!

    There's so much I still have to learn!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh WOW! These photos are incredible! Where to start? The soccer ones are amazing - the b&w gives them such a great feel! The frog on your son's nose...looks like it belongs in a magazine, and LOVE the one of him reclining in the grass. So much inspiration - thank you! Have a wonderful week! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Lish, you're so great with these tips and tutorials! May I suggest maybe doing one for creating watermarks at some point? :)
    Oh and by the way, these photos and tips are AWESOME!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Love all these pictures!!! So beautiful, and inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Now THAT is a serious soccer player!!

    Love seeing your new .com, too!

    ReplyDelete
  17. FABULOUS POST! I completely agree with being ready- everyone thinks I am nuts, but it really is the only way you will ever get the great shots. Loving the frog by the way! WOW! I am working on knowing my camera- mainly by making sure I pick it up & play with it every day & taking notes when someone who's work I admire posts a tutorial on something. It HELPS SO MUCH!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Suffering tremendous feelings of inadequacy here! I learned to photograph on manual cameras - and I loved it. Mine died, sadly, about 4 years ago. Great tips! I love the frog on the nose picture - I so need a better camera!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks for the great tips! We have a DSLR (Nikon D200), 2 point and shoot cameras, 2 batteries, several cards and 2 lenses. But I have to share with my husband. We really want to get another DSLR and more lenses so we can go out and shoot together. But for now we are just thankful we have the Nikon!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Great tips! Thank you soo much! :)

    ReplyDelete