It was late in the day on the eve before Christmas Eve when I decided to drive up to the Little Zigzag River to get some fresh air and take a few photos of the creek in the snow. It was getting dark and I wasn’t too pleased with the photos that I took there, but as I was driving back home I passed by this cabin in the forest. It was all lit up and it caught my eye. It was well into the Blue Hour when I stopped for this photo so the warmth of the interior lights contrasted well with the blue snow covered forest vignette.
It goes to show that when one sets his goals on something they ultimate goal may not have been achieved, but you usually get something for your effort.
With the holiday season here many of us will be taking more photos than we typically do throughout the year. Family dinners, Christmas mornings and, in many cases, the one time of the year that we spend time quality time with our friends and family. Photos of these times can be priceless treasures in the future. Just a little bit of thought and preparation can make sure that you get the shot and make an image that more beautiful or impactful. With this in mind there are a few easy to master techniques that will help you to do this.
Fill your frame – Either move closer or zoom in to fill the frame to exclude all that could clutter or distract from the image. With either a planned group photo or a close up of someone move or zoom in. If you are taking a photo of a child opening a gift, for instance, make sure that it’s a closeup to include their gift and their face to capture the whole context and emotion of the moment. A wide angle view of the room won’t be able to capture the moment in the same way.
Mind the background – Be aware of the background behind your subject. If there’s clutter or a group of people not meant to be in the frame, for instance, find a nicer background. Move your subject or subjects in front of some holiday lights, Christmas tree or decorations. You can also blur the background. One way to do that, if you have a camera that you can adjust manually, is to open up the aperture, set to a smaller number, which will make the depth of field shallower which will soften the background or stand back from your subject and zoom in. Most of the time this should give you a similar effect.
Use fill flash, or not – A general rule with digital cameras is to use flash if your subject is standing in front of a bright background such as a window. Unless the room is very dark try to get the shot without a fill flash. This will give you a more even tone and natural looking photograph.
Use the timer and a tripod – You should be in the photo too. It’s most always been the case that, when sharing your photos, you will need to explain that you were there but was taking the photo. Why not be in the shot? Learn how to use the timer on your camera. You can usually set it for anything from 10 seconds to 30 seconds or more to allow you to click the shutter button and casually walk around into the shot with time to smile. It’s usually very simple to set the camera quickly to Self Timer and then back again. Set your camera on a tripod if you have one, otherwise find something sturdy that you can set the camera on while the shot is taken.
Video – You can be a videographer. Most digital cameras these days will allow you to create videos simply. Most cases all you need to do is flip a switch and press a button. Once you are videoing you can zoom in and out. Once you have made your videos you can easily download them to your computer and edit them in various programs that come with most all personal computers. Apple products can use iMovie while Windows users can use Windows Movie Maker and either brands can use many aftermarket programs as well. Both programs are easy to use and have many tutorials videos available online.
I hope that these tips will help you to get the shot that may have gotten away. The most important tip of all is to get the camera out, charge the batteries, learn to use your settings prior to your event and make sure that it’s handy so you can grab it when the opportunity to save a moment for posterity is provided. Time is fleeting, memories are treasures. Take more pictures this holiday season.