Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Those Amazing Sunsets

Capturing breathtaking sunsets is not as difficult as it seems.  A couple of tricks will turn your pale colored sunset photos into WOW colored images.  The main issue is getting the correct exposure, since you are shooting into the sun, the built-in light meter of your camera will be thrown out of range and hence the colors will be lame.

The first and most important technique is to get the exposure right.  Aim just above the sun and make sure you cannot see the sun through the viewfinder, hold your shutter halfway down to lock the exposure.  Do not release the shutter button.  With this trick you are setting the perfect sunset exposure.  Next move your camera, compose your image and when you are ready press the shutter button down the rest of the way.  You now have captured an image with gorgeous colors.

Downtown Miami
After shooting the sunset, do not put away your camera, most of the time marvelous light is about to show up.  Around 20 minutes after sunset, sometimes the clouds turn bright orange, purple or dark red and a combination of all three.  Great shots will come out of being patient.  If you wait even longer 30 to 45 after sunset the sky will turn deep blue, right before turning black.  It only lasts around 10 minutes and combined with different subjects you can create wonderful images.

Miami Beach
Now, you can also use some technical settings to achieve perfect sunset images.  One of them is changing your white balance from daylight to cloudy, this will help you capture warmer sunsets.  Another technique includes the use of a neutral density gradient filter.  This filter is dark at the top smoothly graduating to completely transparent.  This kind of filter will darken the sky, gradually making it lighter and having no effect by the time it reaches the ground.  The end result is an image where both the sky and the ground look properly exposed.

St. Maarten 
Try shooting sunsets and creating silhouettes.  Position your subject in front of the setting sun, this will help outline the silhouette.  Aim to the sky to set your exposure, your subject will now appear in a black silhouette.

Last but not least, you are shooting in low light, so use a tripod and set your f stop from f/8 to f/16 so that everything looks sharp from back to front and remember your rule of thirds, place the horizon either on the top or the bottom third, do not center the horizon in your image.

Go capture those amazing sunsets!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Color in Travel Photography

One of the best things to look out for, while you are traveling and shooting photos, is the vivid and crisp colors of the city.  You will invariably find brilliant colors in buildings, doors, shops, signs, cars, walls, specially contrasting colored windows and doors on a crisp color wall.

Keep your eyes open, the amount of color combinations and color contrasts that you will find, while exploring your travel destination, will help you build memories of the place and great images.  Do not forget to combine those colors with local people doing just everyday things, like waiting for a bus, working on a roof, or simply a parked bicycle.

Remember one important rule about colors, they will look richer, early morning or late afternoon or if your tour is right smack in the middle of the day then use open shade while shooting.

Color will do many things to your images.  Color will set a mood, draw attention to your subject or even give support to your story.  When you are shooting think how color can help you produce better photos.

Good luck!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Shooting Fireworks

Shooting fireworks can be frustrating.  I’ve seen people using flash, in automatic mode, without tripod and just not a single crisp firework shot comes out.  It is not that difficult.

First and most important, you need to capture fireworks with your came on a tripod.  You need a slow shutter speed to be able to photograph the falling light trails, which is the WOW factor.  It is also convenient, for a couple of reasons, to use a cable release.  You need to see the firework’s trajectory to know when to push the shutter button, it is easier to do so with the naked eye than to try and look through the viewfinder.

Second use a zoom lens, I recommend a 200mm so you can get in tight and capture the explosion and the trails.  If you are trying to capture the surrounding as well then use a wider lens.

After that either shoot in Manual Mode or in Bulb Mode.  In Manual Mode you just have to set the shutter speed to 4 seconds (3 if your test shot looks overexposed, 5 if it is underexposed) and set the aperture to f/11.  Now you are ready to start shooting.

In the Bulb Mode you hold the shutter as long as you want.  Push and hold the shutter button when the rocket is fired and then let go and release the button when the light trails start to fade.

The rest is timing – firework away!