Expose Yourself

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HOW TO TAKE PROFESSIONAL LOOKING PHOTOS

What is it that makes someone's photos look professional? Are they just getting lucky? Let me tell you now, it's not luck. If no matter how hard you try, your photos are still turning out amateurish and bland, then this post should help you out.

Let me start off by saying, this is a loaded topic to try and cover, but I'll give you the three easiest ways to make your photos look better.

The three biggest things to focus on are composition, where your focus is, and editing. For example, If I'm taking head shots of someone, I need to keep a few things in mind. Am I taking the photo from a flattering angle, and composing the shot in a way that looks good? What's in the background - is there anything distracting? Am I cutting off any body parts at weird spots (ie: someone's wrist, elbow, fingers, etc.)? Make sure to use the rule of thirds to give a boring photo a bit more interest. If you keep your subject in the middle of the photo and have a lot of empty space all around them, then your photo will lack interest.

Next, I need to think about where the focus is going to be. Obviously when it comes to headshots the focus is the persons face, but that's not all. I'm a huge believer that the focus should be right on your subject's eyes. If the focus misses and hits your subject's ear or nose, it can really make your photo look distracting and bad.

Lastly, spend time with your editing. Shoot RAW and try to give your photo some emotion. Bring out colours, add some contrast, convert to black and white. One thing that helped me with editing was looking at some photos that I like from other photographers and thinking, "What is going on in this photo that I like? Do I like the crunchy contrast, the exposure, the white balance, the punchy colours?" And then I would try and replicate their styles into my own work and then make it my own.

Photography is all trial and error. With lots of practice and education, you will eventually have your own shooting and editing style. For now, just get out there and shoot and have fun!

DOES NOISE/GRAIN MAKE YOUR PHOTOS UNUSABLE?
 
 

I'VE ATTACHED A FILE SHOT AT 12,800 ISO. Feel free to pixel peep, and play around with it. If you decide to try and edit the photo, share it with me!

YOU CAN Download the RAW file - HERE -
AND YOU CAN View and download the edited high resolution JPEG - HERE -

Sloane High ISO My Edit.jpg


One of the biggest things that photographers try to avoid is noise. (Grainy photos caused by bumping up the cameras ISO to help expose the photo). Is noise really a bad thing? No it's not. Noise is not something to be scared of at all. I hear people say things like "the D5500 can't handle much higher than 1600 ISO before the photos are unusable" this is absolutely not true. Do the photos have noise? Yes, but the photos are absolutely usable.

Obviously when shooting at higher ISO's the image quality, and dynamic range begins to degrade, but for the most part you really don't have to worry. If you shoot RAW, you can always edit and bring back some details in post. When you're looking at a photo and you're seeing noise, is it because you're zoomed in and pixel peeping? If so, of course your seeing noise when your zoomed in 1:1. That same photo looks great and noiseless when printed because you can't pixel peep a print. 

One huge tip to keeping your image quality up, and noise down is to make sure you get your photo properly exposed in camera. If you are using high ISO and still accidentally underexpose your photo, bumping up the exposure in post will really quickly degrade image quality and create tons of noise. I've taken photos at ISO 12,800 that I've used because I exposed it properly in camera. If I shot that same photo at 12,800 and had to bump up the exposure in post, it would have been trash. 

In summation, don't be afraid of using high ISO, and don't be afraid of a little noise. Just make double sure to expose the photo properly in your camera when using high ISO or you'll hate yourself when it comes time to edit.
 

I TOOK STUNNING HEAD SHOTS WITH AN "OUT DATED" LENS

I recently was approached to do some head shots for an actor. He needed updated shots, so we picked a day and went downtown. I took my Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 macro with me and a bunch of gear. (3 Flashes, umbrellas, tripod, stool, reflectors etc.) I only ended up using the 70-200, the stool, and the reflector. I think the photos turned out absolutely great, and I took them all with an "old" lens. Thats the thing about camera gear, you don't NEED the newest, best gear to capture great photos. You just need to know how to take great photos with the gear you have. In this case, I needed to make sure that my shutter speed was fast enough to compensate for my shaky hands (because this lens doesn't have any vibration control). I also knew I needed to have a nice low aperture so I could blur out the background. Lastly, I needed to make sure I was hitting my focus properly. The Tamron 70-200 Macro is a bit soft when its stopped down to f/2.8 and used at 200mm. I had to be mindful of this, or it would result in a very soft image which is the last thing I'd be looking for in head shots of this nature.

TIP: If its really sunny outside, place your subject in the shade and use a reflector to bounce some ambient light back on to their face!

Here are some of the images that I personally like the most from the shoot.