Carnival is perfect for taking pictures whether you’re a seasoned professional or just snapping from your phone. There are a few simple ways to improve your photo quality on Carnival day, or any other day. Here are some pointers from Air Adam Photography that will hopefully help you whether you have an expensive SLR or just a phone camera!
One of the most important things in any pic is getting it sharp and in focus. Assuming you’ve got enough light, there’s no reason to get this wrong. Any digital camera will have some method of selecting the object or distance to focus on – for the exact way, check your manual. For a couple of examples;
- My pocket camera needs me to place the thing I want to focus on in the centre of the frame and lightly press the shutter button halfway down. When it works out how far to focus, it locks it and puts a dot in the corner to let me know. I can then press all the way down and it takes the photo.
- On my phone, I have to touch the part of the screen showing the object I’m trying to focus on – it does the focusing and then takes the photo straight away. For any photo, you know yourself what the most important element is – focus on that and it’s half the battle.
FOCUSING ON A MOVING SUBJECT
That last tip doesn’t account for subjects that are moving towards or away from you. There are two main tips for dealing with this;
• If the movement is slow enough, just make sure the time between setting focus and taking the pic is as small as possible. In short – be quick!
• Set the focus on a different object (anything will do) which is around where the moving subject will end up. Then when it gets to that point, take the photo.
ZOOMING AND POSITIONING
Don’t be afraid to move around – change position, get close to the action and you’ll get more interesting pictures! In general, if you have a choice between using zoom and getting closer to something…get closer. There are two reasons;
• The more you zoom in, the more the blurring effect due to any slight hand movement you make is magnified on the final pic.
•So-called “digital zoom” doesn’t actually zoom at all – it uses software to make the centre of the image bigger (at the cost of quality), then throws the rest away. In short, it’s a con. You’d be better off taking the photo without and doing the same on your computer – at least you still have the original if you don’t like the result!
Do be aware of your surroundings – be careful not to get in the way of any trucks, floats, or troupes!
Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part don’t take photos of people from lower levels, especially with flash – it can make people look weird, bring out double chins that are barely even there in real life, and generally make you unpopular!
…AND GET DOWN
If you’re taking photos of children, try crouching down to their level rather than standing up as you normally do – it can make the shot much more interesting!
FILL THE PICTURE
It’s quite common to see pics with a load of space that doesn’t need to be there. If you’re taking a photo of someone, the feeling can change greatly depending on how much of the background is also in the picture. Take a look at this example;
Now imagine that pic zoomed out, with more background, and you get the rough idea. If I’d wanted to emphasise the smallness of individuals in a huge movement of people, that would have been the right thing to do, but I wanted a photo of my friends at the event and so the correct move was to fill the picture mostly with them.
TURN. YOUR. FLASH. OFF!
It’s not reasonable to expect much light from the LED/xenon flash on your phone or pocket camera, which is physically small and also has to work without immediately draining the whole battery! So if your subject isn’t within maybe 2 metres max, the flash is not going to be effective at all. On an average Carnival Day, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll get any benefit from a flash, unless you’ve got a big dedicated flashgun. Turn it off and the camera will work faster, use less battery, and you’ll get much more natural looking pictures.
When you’re lining up your shot and looking through the viewfinder or at the screen, be very conscious of exactly what’s in the picture, and if something’s there that shouldn’t be, then reposition yourself to get rid of it! The classic example is the tree or street sign that appears to be growing out of someone’s head. A general guide is that you want to avoid anything in the photo that distracts or detracts from your main subject – it’s worth taking the time to check.
In the old days of film, the common mistake was cutting people’s heads off by accident (so to speak)! Nowadays there’s no excuse for that with the ability to instantly view what you’ve taken, but things can still end up “missing”. Look out for cutting off hands and feet, or any limb at a joint when framing your picture. If you’re cutting off part of the head, have a specific reason why you’re doing it that way. Same principles apply whatever you’re taking photos of – be aware of what’s about to not be in the picture.
ENJOY THE DAY, AND GOOD LUCK WITH THE PHOTOS!
To follow my work, visit http://facebook.com/airadamphotography and http://flickr.airadam.com