How-To

How-To: Shooting Photos in Directional Sunlight

How-To: Shooting Photos in Directional Sunlight
Text and Photos by Lynne Eodice

The sun starts out very low in the sky and offers some warm, pretty light first thing in the morning. Then it rises as the day progresses, producing brighter and less dimensional lighting from above. In the late afternoon, the sun is low in the sky again, but in a different position. Foliage that was illuminated from the front early in the morning may be backlit in the afternoon, or vice versa, depending on which way a scene faces.

Natural light changes constantly throughout the day, and the intensity and quality of light changes throughout the seasons of a year. The continual shifting direction of sunlight imparts the same subjects with different looks. A red-rock area in the desert Southwest that looks somewhat pale and washed out during midday can be ablaze with color and texture late in the afternoon.

You can sometimes change the direction of your subject if you don’t like the way the light is striking it—like a person or obedient pet—until you see a lighting direction that you like. If you don’t like the way someone is squinting in the bright sun shining down in the middle of the day, you can move that person to the shade, for example, or turn him so that his back is to the sun. With subjects that are more stationary, like a rock formation or statue, you can often move around them to change the lighting direction, which often opens you up to more unique angles.

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How-To: Capturing Action & Motion

Capturing Action & Motion
Text and Photos by Lynne Eodice

There are several ways to express motion in your photos—ranging from freezing the motion with a very fast shutter speed to panning along with your subject using a slower shutter speed. You can also express a feeling of motion by slowing down your shutter speed to intentionally blur your subject.

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How-To: Getting the Right Exposure

How-To: Getting the Right Exposure

Text and Photos by Lynne Eodice

One of the most important issues you should address before shooting a picture is setting the exposure. First of all, a good exposure is one that captures the overall tonal range (the range of dark through light tones) that is visible to you before you click the shutter. What you’re trying to do is to capture an image that shows light tones, dark tones and everything in between. When you create a good exposure, it means that you’re giving your camera’s sensor the right amount of light to record your subject’s tones correctly.

Put quite simply, good exposure is the amount of light that it takes to record a scene correctly onto your camera’s sensor. If you give the sensor too much light, your picture will be overexposed. The image may appear washed out and lacking in detail in the brightest areas. If there’s too little light, the image will be underexposed and will look dark and dingy. So in most cases, you’ll want to capture an image that’s neither too dark nor too bright, but just right.

Some subjects are easy to expose correctly. When a scene is well lit and has an average tonal range (with nothing being too dark or too light) and the light is fairly even, getting a good exposure is a pretty simple process. Your camera’s built-in automatic exposure does a good job of recording subjects like this correctly. But the more complex your subject is in terms of light and dark tones, the more challenging proper exposure can become. For example, you need to know how your camera’s meter will react to a beautiful snow-covered landscape—and what you need to do to record that snow the right way.

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How-To: Understanding & Applying Depth of Field

How-To: Understanding & Applying Depth of Field
Text and Photos by Lynne Eodice

Depth of field is the zone in your photograph that’s in sharp focus in front of and behind your main subject, and which has a profound effect on the way your images look. Here are two essential terms to know:

• Shallow depth of field — Characterized by a blurred background and/or foreground.

• Great depth of field — Denoted by overall image sharpness.

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How-To: Getting the Professional Angle

How-To: Getting the Professional Angle

The Extra Perspective That Takes an Image From Amateur to Professional
Text and Photos by Lynne Eodice

By changing your camera’s viewpoint, you can create a powerful effect over the visual impact of your images. The same scene can appear very different depending on whether you choose to photograph it from above, below or at eye level. For a little variety, try climbing a few stairs or find an upper-level viewpoint to shoot down on a subject, or squat low or even lie down to angle your camera upward. And don’t think that you have to include the entire scene in your pictures.

Remember that an eye-level angle conveys realism and an everyday appearance of a subject — it’s the way we usually see the world. Most of us tend to spot and shoot subjects from an eye-level, straight ahead point of view. We look down at wildflowers, out at the ocean, and up at the sky. Sometimes, in order to create interesting, more original images, you’ll want to alter this viewpoint.

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