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Photography Lighting Tips

Great Photos at the Beach

The best time to be at the beach is sometimes the worst time for taking a great photograph. Direct midday light means great sun-tanning but it is a harsh and unflattering light for photography. Subjects tend to squint and the light bouncing off of sand can fool the exposure meter of your camera into under- or over-exposure. Here are the three best tips for taking better portraits at the beach: 1. Shoot on an overcast day. Cloudy conditions in the middle of the day means a softer, more flattering light and subjects who don′t squint. 2. Shoot into the afternoon or setting sun. This is only possible with SLR cameras with full manual controls, because your automatic exposure meter would underexpose the image leading to a silhouetted subject. Shooting at a proper exposure for backlit subjects will reveal even, shadowless skin tones and an blown-out, artistic background. 3. Shoot under a beach umbrella. Professional photographers prefer to shoot under open shade when they have to shoot in harsh mid-day sunlight. Your beach umbrella is a portable shadow that creates the soft, flattering light needed to take a great portrait.   © 2007 Joel Silverman, Atlanta DPA Instructor

Shooting into the Sun

Most photographers are afraid of shooting directly into the sun. No one likes blown highlights and harsh shadows, however, sometimes  shooting into the sun can cause beautiful results. This photo below shows that by shooting almost into the sun the children are emphasized as the subject of the photo.   © 2007 Frank Siteman, Boston DPA Instructor

Working With Flat Lighting

Flat lighting is not the end all be all of a good photograph. By doing a simple levels correction in Photoshop, a flat image can be turned into a photograph with good contrast and nice lighting. © 2007 Ken DeJarlais, Seattle DPA Instructor

Silhouettes with a Panasonic Point-and-Shoot

A silhouette like this one is typically difficult to expose correctly. It is one thing to meter for a rich sky, casting the unlit subject into darkness, but it’s quite another to also maintain detail and color in the composition’s foreground. The Panasonic DMC-TZ3 did just this. By setting the meter in Simple Mode the camera took account of foreground, subject, and sky and chose an exposure that did not compromise the integrity of each. The position of the buffalo in front of the slate-blue mountain range, on the open prairie, establishes both a sense of timelessness and environmental history.  Notice how the roundness of the buffalo’s head and curving lines of its body strike a cord in union with the shape of the mountains—creating a visual sense of harmony in form.  This harmony is given added depth by the surrounding prairie grasses and wildflowers, which the movement of buffalo herds has helped to sustain over the centuries. The coexistence of animal and landscape in the image is also thematically-drawn by the placement of the buffalo in the front one-third of the frame. This placement leaves space all around the subject, so that the viewer is free to move visually through that great expanse of earth and sky, observing the stillness of the prairie as the sun falls behind the bison, while silhouetting the buffalo calls attention to its near-extinction. © Angilee Wilkerson, Dallas DPA Instructor

Keep Shooting Right Through Sunset

The last light of "the golden hour" can produce some spectacular light and texture. And don′t be afraid to alter the image proportions; here the more horizontal crop enhanced left-to-right flow of the boat and birds. © 2007 Michael Hart, Houston DPA Instructor

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