Category: Tuesday Photo Tips

Tuesday Photo Tip – Frame It Part II

Choosing the right picture frame is important because it will enhance and draw attention to your special portrait or photo. Last week we discussed the photo attributes needed to create a print. Today we’ll look at a multitude of frame options to enhance that special shot.

Choosing the right size frame is critical to any décor. Here’s a standard 7′ couch showing various print sizes. In this setting you can go big (30×40) or moderate (20×24) but anything smaller just won’t work.

Collages give you a multitude of options and work well for landscape photos of the same mood and color tones. Here we put together a collage of photos from our recent Alaska trip (view our favorite Alaska photos here).

Collages are also very popular with both child portraiture

and adult portraiture

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The room where you will be placing the picture or painting is a major factor in deciding which type of frame to use. For the living-room photos we would chose modern, frameless options such as canvas or metal prints. Both are very popular.

Metal prints highlight colors and give an additional feeling of depth. Metal would be our choice for the photo above. We have many metal prints in multiple collage layouts of our fine art and portraiture photography.

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The frame you choose for a nursery is very different than choosing one for a living room. Floating frames are very popular with baby photos. OR consider a single print with a simple frame and a special message.

A classic triptych layout works well with family portraits.

Or get a bit more creative with your layouts and include a collage inside a single frame as shown below.

A professional photographer can help you consider the décor of the room and the color scheme and mood of the photo. With the proper software a pro will take a photo of the room(s)/wall(s) you are considering and then display any combination of pictures and collages you’d like to consider. Those options will be displayed just as you would hang them and will ensure you get the most out of the photos that will be prominently displayed in your home to become family heirlooms.

 Stay tuned because more Tuesday Photo Tips are right around the corner. Better yet – be updated automatically when we post Tuesday Photo Tips or Family Friday Fun by “friending” our Facebook site. We also post favorite photos, along with an explanation of how it was captured, on our Pinterest page – follow us there and join in the fun.

PS – This is one of dozens of photo tips in our continuing Tuesday Photo Tips series of posts. There  are other resource articles on our site you may enjoy covering basic and more advanced photography topics. There are also tips that cover topics such as preparing for family or infant/child portrait sessions. If you would like a topic covered just jot it down in a comment or send us a note. Also, if  you think your friends or family members would enjoy these tips please pass them on by using any of the share buttons below.

Tuesday Photo Tip – Frame It

To frame or not to frame – not a famous quote but it can be a difficult question. Most of our personal photos are not going to be prominently displayed in our home. Most personal photos are family snapshots that will be shared on social networks. For those, snapshots are perfectly adequate.

But, what about those that we wish to frame and display prominently? That great shot of our newborn opening their eyes with a big smile – how do we frame that? How do we know if the thumbnail we view on our cell phone camera will look good when framed?

To be brutally honest, most of our snapshots will not look good in a moderate to large frame. Lots of nits we don’t notice when viewing the 2″ thumbnail are going to be clearly evident when we print to a larger size. And for that matter, what size is adequate? Do we have enough resolution (# of pixels) to create a moderately large print? Let’s take a look at some size comparisons.

This display will give you some idea of relative sizes.

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Here we see a family portrait and a standard 8′ sofa. An 8×10 print may be sufficient for a desk frame but it’s clearly not going to cut it as a wall display. Even the 16×20 print (size of the photo – the frame is significantly larger) is going to seem inadequate when hung over your sofa.

Let’s start with that 16×20 print and see if our file has the resolution needed. If we upload our file to Costco for printing we may very well get a warning about picture size and pixel count. We’ve put together the table below to illustrate the issue with common photo sizes.

Most professional print shops will require 300 pixels per inch of print (ppi) to ensure sufficient resolution/clarity. Print with a significantly lower ppi and the picture will not look good. But let’s consider that the larger the print the further we stand to view it. In other words, large prints don’t need 300 ppi resolution at normal viewing distances. Just be sure to keep the pixel peepers at bay.

The table above has recommended pixel counts vs. picture size. Small prints up to 9×12 should support 300 ppi because we move closer to see a 9×12 than a 24×30. Larger prints, such as the 16×20 example above should support 240 ppi. without any perceived loss of clarity.

OK – enough about ppi. How do I know if my photo has enough ppi That’s what our table shows in the Photo Size (Mpix) columns. For those that care, here’s the math.

Let’s look at a 12×16 image. We need needs 12×240 = 2,880 pix; 16×240 = 3,840 pix for a total pixel count of 2,880×3,840 = 11.1Mpixels. Great – your camera has 12 Mpixels so we should be OK at 12×16.  But anything larger than that starts to become an issue. The 16×20 is well beyond our cameras reach.

What do we do for large prints? Hire a professional is the best approach. You just can’t expect a cell phone camera to support large prints.

Next week we’ll continue this theme and give tips on how to choose frames for the professional quality photos that will become family heirlooms once they are framed. In the meantime, stay tuned because more Tuesday Photo Tips are right around the corner. Better yet – be updated automatically when we post Photo Excursions, Road Trips, Family Happenings or Photo Tips by “friending” our Facebook site. We also post favorite photos, along with an explanation of how it was captured, on our Pinterest page – follow us there and join in the fun.

PS – This is one of dozens of photo tips in our continuing Tuesday Photo Tips series of posts. There  are other resource articles on our site you may enjoy covering basic and more advanced photography topics. There are also tips that cover topics such as preparing for family or infant/child portrait sessions. If you would like a topic covered just jot it down in a comment or send us a note. Also, if  you think your friends or family members would enjoy these tips please pass them on by using any of the share buttons below.

Tuesday Photo Tip – Favorite Silhouettes

We covered the techniques used to capture silhouettes in an earlier post. Today we’ll look at the composition elements that enhance silhouettes.

Silhouettes emphasize form so it’s very important to make sure the shape and form of the objects are clean and clear.

These uncluttered photos from the Tall Ships Festival in Dana Point, CA are a great example of clean lines and clear shapes.

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Note that the photo above has a problem with clean lines and clear shapes. The lack of separation between the man/woman and their dogs makes this a confusing silhouette. It doesn’t highlight shape, it confuses the elements and doesn’t work at all.

We took these horse photos at Morro Bay and let shape and form dominate the frame.

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In this photo the shape of the horse is highlighted drawing attention to the hoofs, all four of which are in the air. The horse glides effortlessly thru the frame. The sense of motion is palpable.

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The above photo is one of our favorites because the rider and her hat are so well defined. The reins are outlined and the intentional slow shutter gave a sense of implied motion. The sunset adds drama. There is one “nit” – the horizon line cuts the rider off at the shoulders. Maybe you didn’t notice it but – now that it’s been mentioned you see it clearly as a problem.

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That issue was addressed in the photo of the two Salt Creek surfers. I positioned myself to ensure the horizon is not a distraction. This photo tells a story and includes another of our favorite composition techniques, reflections.

High contrast silhouettes like the kayak photo below are great examples of dramatic light.

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This second kayak silhouette include symmetry and balance as well as clean lines and a bit of a reflection.

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Silhouettes can be used to add a bit of an artistic flavor to an environmental portraiture session.

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In the photo above we intentionally added the light fixture to balance out the photo. The couple is clearly outlined. Once again, a bit of separation would have helped but we think this tells the story adequately. Next time we’ll fine tune the pose.

Feel free to comment or show off some of your own compositions that illustrate this tip. In the meantime, stay tuned because more Tuesday Photo Tips are right around the corner. Better yet – be updated automatically when we post Photo Excursions, Road Trips, Family Happenings or Photo Tips by “friending” our Facebook site. We also post favorite photos, along with an explanation of how it was captured, on our Pinterest page – follow us there and join in the fun.

PS – This is one of dozens of photo tips in our continuing Tuesday Photo Tips series of posts. There  are other resource articles on our site you may enjoy covering basic and more advanced photography topics. There are also tips that cover topics such as preparing for family or infant/child portrait sessions. If you would like a topic covered just jot it down in a comment or send us a note. Also, if  you think your friends or family members would enjoy these tips please pass them on by using any of the share buttons below.

Tuesday Photo Tip – Use Foreground Elements for Scale

Vistas take our breath away. We stand there in awe and try in vain to capture the essence of the location armed with nothing more than a flat, 2-dimensional photo. Without careful composition we find something lacking. We often lose the sense of scale and or distance that we were in awe of and which led us to take the photo.

Here’s a great example from our recent Alaska adventure cruise. The photo above lacks scale. There are a lot of elements that work with this photo but – it’s missing a sense of size and distance. We aren’t able to judge either size or distance; we have no reference.

This photo of the same fjord near Dawes Glacier with our friend and fellow adventurer in a kayak gives us that reference. We now have a much better  understanding of the grandeur of the scene.

Here’s another example where a zodiac is used as a foreground element to give us a better grasp of the distances involved.

The foreground element doesnt have to be exactly located in the foreground. In the photo below our adventure cruise ship is seen in the distance and illustrates the scale of the landscape features in Alaska.

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We have never experienced anything of that scale. This composition technique helped us demonstrate the enormity of that granite monolith. Imagine the feeling we had while kayaking – impossible to fully describe.

Sometimes a foreground element can serve dual purposes. In the photo above the sea gull on the small dry patch helps with scale but also gives the viewer’s eyes a place to rest.

Pay attention to where your compositional elements lead your eyes when viewing a photograph. That is a key technique for assessing the effectiveness of your composition. Review some of our earlier posts on composition techniques to add drama and interest to your photos.

In the photo above the foreground is the main compositional element. For the photo below the foreground element gives a sense of place, a sense of story, a feeling of where you are which is often times missing from vacation vista photos.

Try to add foreground elements to your landscape photos to convey a sense of size or tell the story of the location. For a more general discussion of composition and foreground elements read this earlier post – Add a Foreground Object.

Feel free to comment or show off some of your own compositions that illustrate this tip. In the meantime, stay tuned because more Tuesday Photo Tips are right around the corner. Better yet – be updated automatically when we post Photo Excursions, Road Trips, Family Happenings or Photo Tips by “friending” our Facebook site. We also post favorite photos, along with an explanation of how it was captured, on our Pinterest page – follow us there and join in the fun.

PS – This is one of dozens of photo tips in our continuing Tuesday Photo Tips series of posts. There  are other resource articles on our site you may enjoy covering basic and more advanced photography topics. There are also tips that cover topics such as preparing for family or infant/child portrait sessions. If you would like a topic covered just jot it down in a comment or send us a note. Also, if  you think your friends or family members would enjoy these tips please pass them on by using any of the share buttons below.

 

Laguna Niguel Portraits – Tuesday Photo Tip – 10 Simple Tips to Add Impact to Your Photos – Part 2

Last week we asked the question: How do professional photographers create dynamic photos – photos that have impact far beyond a “snapshot”?  We learned that regardless of your subject, how you place it in the frame has a huge impact on the dynamism of the photo.

We discussed five design elements that you can easily implement to add impact to your photos. This week we will cover five more tips you can use, regardless of your camera, to make your photos “stand out” and be noticed.

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Tip 6: Move closer

One effective way to simplify any photo and remove distractions is to fill the frame by moving closer to the primary subject. In the photo of the macaw, moving a few feet closer eliminated distracting elements in the background.

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This was a useful technique in the portraits above – there will be no distracting elements when you move to fill the frame with your primary subject.

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Moving closer is also an important technique when shooting with flash. The “throw” of a flash is limited to 10-12 feet, at best, and often times quite less. Notice how ineffective the fill flash is on this hiking portrait. We have written multiple posts on flash tips because we feel strongly that your family portraits will improve significantly once you learn flash. Check out this post to help you easily master your flash.

Returning to Tip 6 – the next time you think you are ready to press the shutter – take a step closer. Try it, you’ll like it.

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Tip 7: Use a plain background

As mentioned in Tip 6, “busy” backgrounds can be distracting. The best way to eliminate them is to never have them in the first place. Use a plain, solid color, background. Don’t have one? You can create one very easily.

In the child portraits above the background was a French Door. Exposing for the subjects sent the door into total white – no details are preserved – just as we wanted.

We use this technique in outdoor portraits as shown below. The mid-day sun creates a blown out background in both photos as well as a hair light for Destiny.

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The same can be done with a window and simple “scrim”. The infant photo above was taken with the set up shown below. A thin bed sheet covering a well lit window will work just as well as our scrim.

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Tip 8: Leading lines

Leading lines are a great way to invite a viewer into the scene you’ve created. In both panels below the trail/road lead the viewers eyes into the frame and guide them to the subject matter – Rebecca on a trail in the Sierra mountains or an apartment complex near the Mammoth ski resort in the Eastern Sierras.

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The line of trees and fence in the photo above also serve to pull the viewers eye deeper into the scene.

Tip 9: Create a sense of depth

Leading lines can also be used to add a sense of depth to a photo – taking a two dimensional photo and creating a near three dimensional view. To add depth effectively be sure to include foreground, middle ground and background elements as shown in the photos below.

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Tip 10: Use a frame within a frame

Landscape photographers will often frame their main subject with a scene element (e.g. trees). It’s an effective technique (discussed in this earlier post) which can also be used to add depth as discussed in Tip 9.

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Look for framing opportunities in your family portraits. Judicious cropping of the photo of Benjamin was done with a frame in mind.

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Arches make natural frames for portraits or architecture photos. In the photo below I used a creative frame to highlight a colorful haircut at a MLB game.

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Try these tips, along with the five from last week’s post, and add drama and impact to your photography.

Feel free to comment or show off some of your own compositions that illustrate this tip. In the meantime, stay tuned because more Tuesday Photo Tips are right around the corner. Better yet – be updated automatically when we post Photo Excursions, Road Trips, Family Happenings or Photo Tips by “friending” our Facebook site. We also post favorite photos, along with an explanation of how it was captured, on our Pinterest page – follow us there and join in the fun.

PS – This is one of dozens of photo tips in our continuing Tuesday Photo Tips series of posts. There  are other resource articles on our site you may enjoy covering basic and more advanced photography topics. There are also tips that cover topics such as preparing for family or infant/child portrait sessions. If you would like a topic covered just jot it down in a comment or send us a note. Also, if  you think your friends or family members would enjoy these tips please pass them on by using any of the share buttons below.

Laguna Niguel Portraits – Tuesday Photo Tip – 10 Simple Tips to Add Impact to Your Photos – Part 1

How do professional photographers create dynamic photos with impact far greater than a “snapshot”? One key element of a dynamic photo is the “design” of the image.

Certainly the subject of the photo matters; but, a professional photographer will add dynamism to an ordinary subject by using one or more of these 10 image design elements.

This week we will cover 5 of 10 tips for creating dynamic and interesting photos. You can easily use these tips, regardless of your camera, to add impact that makes your photos stand out. People will notice.

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Tip 1: Simplify

Be sure that the subject of your photo is obvious. Eliminate distracting elements. If the viewer has to ask what it is you were taking a picture of that’s a big clue your photo is missing impact. Pare down your photo to bare essentials. In photography,  less is definitely more. There’s no question what the subject is in either of the two photos above.

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Tip 2: Subject placement

Despite what you may think, it’s not best to place your subject in the center of the frame/viewfinder. Most photo hobbyists have heard of the rule of thirds and for good reason. It’s effective – as demonstrated in these photos of Destiny swinging and Daisy lounging. For more on this “rule” see this earlier post.

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But it’s OK to break the rule. Rebecca and I love using negative space – demonstrated in this couples portrait at Salt Creek Beach. Negative space adds drama and impact. The couple isn’t placed using the rule of thirds because we wanted to add the impact of negative space to this portrait.

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Tip 3: Selective focus

This is an alternate technique to simplify your  photos. Remove distracting elements by having them fall out of focus. We talk about using limited depth of focus in more detail in this previous post. It’s simple to use and very effective. Shoot wide open – embrace the blur (aka bokeh).

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Tip 4: Unconventional angles

This is a very effective technique used for child portraits. You’re used to seeing them from above – take a new perspective. Get down to their level. You’ll get some interesting expressions.

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Or – try the opposite – look up to them. Once again, it’s not your normal perspective and shooting from these unconventional angles will add drama and give your photos extra punch.

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Tip 5: Compositional balance

Scene elements in a photograph have weights. High contrast subjects have more weight than low contrast. Elements with strong color have more weight than neutral colors. Correct placement of scene elements – balancing these weights – helps balance the frame and leads to more pleasing photos.

Notice how Jeremiah and the balloons balance in the photo above. The same balance is achieved between Benjamin and Destiny on the slide at the park.

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Sometimes the balance is more subtle as in the photo above of Ben at the Chino Planes of Fame Museum.

Regardless of how obvious it is – balance can add impact to your photos. Before you press the shutter check the scene in your viewfinder/LCD – is it balanced? If not, how can you achieve better balance – often just a simple relocation will add balance to your frame and impact to your photo.

Be sure to stay tuned for next week’s post where we explore five more simple composition tips that will add impact to your photos.

Feel free to comment or show off some of your own compositions that illustrate this tip. In the meantime, stay tuned because more Tuesday Photo Tips are right around the corner. Better yet – be updated automatically when we post Photo Excursions, Road Trips, Family Happenings or Photo Tips by “friending” our Facebook site. We also post favorite photos, along with an explanation of how it was captured, on our Pinterest page – follow us there and join in the fun.

PS – This is one of dozens of photo tips in our continuing Tuesday Photo Tips series of posts. There  are other resource articles on our site you may enjoy covering basic and more advanced photography topics. There are also tips that cover topics such as preparing for family or infant/child portrait sessions. If you would like a topic covered just jot it down in a comment or send us a note. Also, if  you think your friends or family members would enjoy these tips please pass them on by using any of the share buttons below.