By Robert Lachman
This is my first attempt at HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography. The result was pretty good considering I have no idea what I was doing. I shot three images on a tripod with a Canon EOS Rebel T2i with the exposure on auto bracketing set at at: +2, 0, and -2. That’s 2-stops over-exposed, one right on and the other 2-stops under-exposed.
I used Photomatix, the HDR software from HDRsoft for the the first time to combine the 3 images into one. I saved the image as a .JPEG file, opened it in Photoshop CS4 and made a few final adjustments with the levels adjustment.
I was a little confused trying out the HDR settings. Ok, I was very confused, so many setting and not enough documentation or instruction for me. I need a simple tutorial video to spell it out for me. There were setting for “Generate HDR image and Fuse exposures” for example, and I know there’s a difference, but I’m not sure what. I like the result so I am going to dig in and give it a few more tries.
By Robert Lachman
When you’re shooting your holiday photographs or videos try to complete the circle. Think of your holiday celebration as a circle and you’re going to complete each part, from start of the season to finish, getting those photos cataloged with keywords, having prints made or even a small book from the holiday season.
1. Charge your batteries. Nothing is worse than running out of power at the key moments.
2. Clear off your flash cards, move your old photographs to the computer.
3. Buy a new flash card for the camera for more photographs if you need it. They just keep getting cheaper, as the file size of the cameras keep going up.
4. Think about getting some detail shots this year to mix it up. Adding variety really makes for a nice slide show.
5. Close-up photos you might include: ornaments on a tree, candles on a table, the wreath on the door, exterior lights on the house, an overall of the Christmas tree, special holiday plates and settings, food preparation, a clock on the wall, stockings on the fireplace, gifts wrapped under the tree, opening the presents and social gathering.
6. Shoot people in groups. This one take the most work. Think of yourself as a wedding photographer moving around the room putting those groups together into two, three or four people. It’s important to shoot 3 or 4 pics of each group. Move everyone closer together and take another photo. You will increase your odds of getting a nice photo of everyone. You can remove the bad ones later when you edit. Most people only shoot one picture and move on. This is a major mistake. Increase your odds and people will give you credit for being a good photographer. Trust me, I’ve shot thousands of pics at parties or it just seems like it.
7. If you’re using a point-and-shoot camera indoors, a lot of photographers will tell you not to shoot with the strobe because it doesn’t look good. If you’re shooting in a well lit house during the day it may be fine. For the group photos, use the strobe in low light, especially indoors at night. Most point-and-shoots don’t work well in low-light situations. No reason why you can’t try both to see how it looks.
8. Most of the photo editing programs like iPhoto or Photoshop Elements do a nice job of removing red eyes. Learn this feature and your photo snapshots will improve.
9. Remember, you’re going to complete the circle, which includes doing something with the photos. It may just mean getting them into iPhoto with keywords included, making a nice slide show with a program like iMovie or Fotomagico. Don’t forget other options like a book from Apple or Blurb. Sending the photos to everyone on a photo service like Google’s Picasa is cheap and simple. They even have software to export the pics directly from iPhoto. I use it all the time and it’s a breeze. This definitely is a great option I use all the time.
10. And, the most important: BACK UP, BACK UP, BACK UP. You do not want lose your memories. Have a great holiday!
Here are a few of my photo tips for the Thanksgiving weekend.
- Charge those batteries. Remember to take you charger to the holiday party especially if you only have one battery.
- Make sure your flash cards are clear and you’ve moved your photos onto the computer.
- Take lots of holiday photographs. Edit, edit, edit during the long weekend. No one wants to look at bad photos.
- Remember to shoot preparation photos making the food or setting up the Christmas tree or outdoor lights.
- Most important: Get that family group photo taken this weekend so you can send out holiday cards. Include yourself in the photographs not just your kids or pets.
- You have a nice group photo, take three or four shots. It’s always tough to capture good expressions of multiple people in a photo.
- Most people think you’re a great photographer if you capture nice expressions. It’s much tougher than it looks. Shoot plenty of pictures, edit later before posting to a service like Picassa.
- After the edit, post your photos quickly so family members can enjoy them.
- Remember these photographs can be turned into Christmas presents. Have some prints made and frame them. This is so easy, but it does take time. Get it done the first week of December and you’ll be ahead of the crowd.
- Most important: Give someone else the camera and get in some photographs!
By Robert Lachman
It’s time to start thinking about those holiday photos. I always try and take the holiday family photo on Thanksgiving Day. It just gives me time to have our Christmas card made at Costco and in the mailbox on time. Actually, it’s my wife that gets them in the mailbox on time. It’s really never too early to get started on this project. So, my number one holiday tip is: start thinking about taking the family holiday photo now. Be the first one done and surprise your family and friends. This year, be the first to get those cards out.