shaun — 2010-07-25T12:38:40-04:00 — #1
With Sitepoint's new book, Photography for the Web, just released, and on the heels of the Great Photography Competition, I'm doing a small series of quick photography tutorial threads.
These will be basic stuff, mostly definitions, and will give everyone some insight of what [Paul Duncanson wrote about in Sitepoint's new release. As much as possible, I'd publish one a week (on the weekends), and hope to touch on all of the suggestions and questions asked in [URL="http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?t=690164"]this thread](http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?t=684610) in General Chat.
The first few weeks, starting today, will be straight definitions. After those, I'll pick up a compact camera and re-shoot all of the Great Photography Competition assignments myself, with explanations of how I planned it, how I shot it, what is good and what could be better in my own photos. It's a learning experience for myself, as every new assignment is.
NOTE: The principles I'll type about here and in future, applies to ALL cameras. These are the principles of ALL photography, no matter what you're shooting, what you're shooting with, where you're from. Your iPhone or your compact-cam, your old film cam. It doesn't matter.
So that said, let's begin!
Photography, as the name would imply, is recording with light. "Photo" meaning "light" and "graphos" from the Greek for "writing".
Light is THE most important aspect of photography. It's too easy to get caught up in cameras and gear, and let's face it, the cameras and gear are AWESOME! But the best camera in the world can't help you if you can't spot (or plan for) good light.
Beyond that, there's of course a creative aspect to your light recordings. The creativity comes in how you compose your shot;
- How you prepare + position the subject you're photographing,
- how you light the subject,
- how you angle your camera to record your subject,
- how you frame the subject inside your camera,
- and how you use the tools of your camera to make the image you'd like to make.
I'll get to all of these in time.
What makes a good photograph?
Well... That's a hell of a question, with a hell of a lot of answers these days. My answer is two-part. Part one would be, "It depends."
A good photograph is one that achieves its required objective. And those objectives vary, therefore each field will have different criteria.
For example, for a journalist or a wedding photographer, his objective is to tell a story with his image (or series of images). We've all seen images like these. BBC or National Geographic.
For some of us who sell products online, the objective is to show off the features of the product, make the product look as attractive as possible, and get the thing sold!
On your Sunday BBQ, the objective might be to just record the event; Who was there, what trouble was got up to, what fun was had.
In food photography, you're trying to appeal to the senses and make the viewer hungry!
Beyond the objectives, the second part of my answer is, "It's interesting."
Notice I didn't say, "attractive." An interesting photo doesn't necessarily have to be "attractive". How many of us have seen that infamous photo from Sudan of the starving child and vulture. Or that one of a Vietnamese police chief executing a prisoner suspected of being Viet Cong.
BUT, there are objective rules applied to those interesting, albeit disturbing, subjects that make the final photo even more interesting to look at. More on that in a moment (and in coming weeks)...
What makes a good photographer?
As with web-design, what makes a good photographer is consistency. He or she always gets the result. Always completes the objective. Whether the condition. Whether the camera. Whatever zany objective is needed. (Within reason, of course.) A person who can be relied on to get the job done.
Anyone can get lucky. All happy-snappers have those one or two images they shot over the years that make lookers stunned. But the aim is to not depend on luck; Instead to know how those lucky shots happened, what went right those times, and recreate them as often as possible. That comes with practice and knowledge.
Let's take a look at two product photos quickly before I end this week's introduction.
Both of these are of the same product. One jumps out at you, and the other, not so much.
What makes them different?
Look at the points above ^, and apply them here.
- "Does it complete the objective? - Do I know what the product is?"
- "Is it interesting to look at?"
- "What's different about how the subject is prepared?"
- "What's different about the light?"
- "What's different about the angle?"
- "What's different about the background?"
- "What's different about the framing, and the distance?"
Answer those questions on your own; They should be immediately obvious. (For help, check out Sitepoint's book.) Feel free to type the differences you observe in a reply below, so we can get a discussion going. We have lots of great photographers on Sitepoint already.
That's it for now. I hope I've been interesting myself, and I look forward to typing to you guys next week about;
- Focal length
Definitions of each, how those tools work, and when to use them.
Please post in the replies below what you think, and give me some feedback on what you'd like in future threads.
Thanks for reading!
kdr_k — 2010-08-24T03:20:25-04:00 — #2
This is the excellent post on photography for newbies. This is nice idea. I got useful info on photography. Thanks you. Keep posting
shaun — 2010-08-08T21:28:28-04:00 — #3
kohoutek — 2010-07-25T18:46:37-04:00 — #4
Well, I thought there might be extra tips on how to work with cheap cameras that do not have the ability to add flashlights and other functions. Nevermind then.
shaun — 2010-07-25T18:21:20-04:00 — #5
Well, like I said up there, camera doesn't matter. A camera is just a light-tight box, with a hole in one end.
In place of film, a digital camera/camera phone, has a sensor to receive the image, but none of that matters as much as the light entering the box in the first place.
All the other stuff are just bells and whistles for your convenience.
character_educat — 2010-08-06T02:56:52-04:00 — #6
WOW great information, i am very curious to know something more about it.
synapsis — 2010-07-27T22:25:35-04:00 — #7
I realize that this is an Intro topic, however I have a question for everyone involved. I'm not a photographer by any means however I always like to keep up with the trends of what is current and what individuals within the industry are seeing.
The last time I spoke with a professional on the matter, which was a few years ago he mentioned HDR photography and obviously the post-production which goes along with it. I'm wondering if the trends have changed?
Thanks, hope I didn't disrupt the thread
mizwizzy — 2010-07-29T06:51:47-04:00 — #8
Brilliant Looking forward to that Shaun! I think you did a fabulous job with that lipstick, anyone would think you were a real professional or something
I like the idea of the before/after shots - really cool - I learn more from observation than reading pages of text, but that's just me and my crazy style of learning :shifty:
shaun — 2010-08-02T03:36:20-04:00 — #9
I was about to post this week's entry, but on reading it over, I want to have a couple more examples ready to show you guys; They might make some of the more wordy definitions easier to explain.
Look out for it tomorrow or day after.
phanowel — 2010-08-02T09:01:51-04:00 — #10
I wrote an article along these lines - with the thought of helping/assisting others in their photography endeavors. It can be found here: <snip>Linked removed - no self-promotion please :)</snip>
Obviously it is couched in terms of family photos, but, like your post, it is focused on some of the basics.
pintu — 2010-07-29T04:46:14-04:00 — #11
Thanks Shaun for the great information about photography principles.
iinfotech01 — 2010-08-02T07:36:45-04:00 — #12
Cropping - Do this with the camera first. Capture the most important part of the picture - the part that makes the story. Your pictures need to have a variety of types of croppings.
Perspective - Try to get interesting perspective that other photographers have not tried, or that you have not often seen. Bend your knees, and tippy-toe whenever necessary. Standing on a bench, chair, ladder, etc. can be an excellent helper.Lighting - Use natural lighting whenever you can. You want to create a mood with your lighting. Watch where you have shadows. Any indoor picture may need a flash.
Action - Place yourself close to the action. Try to get people in action. Capture their daily activities. Sprts scenes lend themselves to fast action. When photographing sports, try to get as many faces as you can.
Contrast - Try to get your blacks as black as possible and your whites as white as possible. Contrast small shapes with large shapes.
Creativity - Create a new view of a common picture. See things in a way that you never noticed before. Crop your center of interest so that it is telling the whole story - showing faces, expressions, moods, movements, stances, situations, and experiences that we all share at one time or another. Find our likenesses and differences.
Consistency - Be as consistent as you can. At first this will be difficult, but it will slowly start to make an impression on you when you do certain things the same that give you good pictures. Follow that, so your pictures are the best possible.
shaun — 2010-07-27T13:21:44-04:00 — #13
Over the next couple weeks I'll be going into the actual recording an image. After that, I can have a look at post production, and how to get the best possible image from camera to make post production easier. Still something I'm learning.
The lipstick image has quite a bit of editing done, mostly to fix flaws on the product, and clean pesky dust. With reflective objects, there's also a need to clean stray reflections; It's a real time-killer. Very tedious sometimes.
I'll post the original and edited image side by side for you guys then. But for now, the focus will be on photographing.
joey88 — 2010-07-27T09:55:57-04:00 — #14
Hey, why would you have cited one of my posts above?:lol:
Well, can't recommend much on this, but to me there would be nowt better than a FALLOUT-styled picture of a happy America-of-the-50s family near the musclecar, waving hands and giving those special smiles you could've seen only during Eisenhower era 50 years ago. Certainly with some wreckage on a background warning you on what might hapen if you don't buy that car insurance/warranty whatever.:) I suggest you visit some fallout fan-art sites for inspiration.
Here are some gasenwagens that may also inspire you on smth;)
shaun — 2010-07-28T01:24:54-04:00 — #15
That's entirely up to you.
Personally, I don't like HDR. I've played with it a few times before, but I just find it makes things look too false.
Personally, I'm not a fan of goofy effects. Too often is it used as a cloak by those with low skill. The best images always come from those who know what they're doing.
There are a couple cases when a slight use of HDR can be useful, such as when the sky is much brighter than the land, and you want to lose neither. But most HDR images I've seen are just bad pictures flooded with upsetting amounts of saturation. I'm sick of it.
joey88 — 2010-07-26T10:37:32-04:00 — #16
Thanks for your brave initiative of this extensive photographic literacy campaign!:)
I'm an absolute profane in photographying myself, but with some persistent claims to aesthetic originality though:) And I guess it's high time to start learning.
All in all, nice work, bright and concise. Look forward to seeing the next post!:shifty:
savagepriest — 2010-07-27T01:39:05-04:00 — #17
yes i am interested in the guide all sitepoint books are great
iinfotech01 — 2010-07-30T04:13:35-04:00 — #18
Principles of Photography
Ten Tips for Better Pictures
Simplicity - The simpler, the better
Distractions - Avoid them!
Do this with the camera first. Capture the most important part of the picture - the part that makes the story. Your pictures need to have a variety of types of croppings.
Try to get interesting perspective that other photographers have not tried, or that you have not often seen. Bend your knees, and tippy-toe whenever necessary. Standing on a bench, chair, ladder, etc. can be an excellent helper.
Use natural lighting whenever you can. You want to create a mood with your lighting. Watch where you have shadows. Any indoor picture may need a flash.
Place yourself close to the action. Try to get people in action. Capture their daily activities. Sprts scenes lend themselves to fast action. When photographing sports, try to get as many faces as you can.
Try to get your blacks as black as possible and your whites as white as possible. Contrast small shapes with large shapes.
Create a new view of a common picture. See things in a way that you never noticed before. Crop your center of interest so that it is telling the whole story - showing faces, expressions, moods, movements, stances, situations, and experiences that we all share at one time or another. Find our likenesses and differences.
Be as consistent as you can. At first this will be difficult, but it will slowly start to make an impression on you when you do certain things the same that give you good pictures. Follow that, so your pictures are the best possible.
Each picture has its own balance and should be pleasing to look at. It can be formally balalnced or informally balanced, but the basic principles of design apply here too. Try not to make something look like it is falling off the page, etc.
slackr — 2010-07-28T02:27:18-04:00 — #19
I totally agree, done poorly HDR photography is just another bad filter effect. However done well, I've seen it bring images closer to what we see naturally with our eyes. Being a relatively new technique I guess we are in for another few years of garish 'HDR' photos.
For those who are interested there is a good HDR website here. Some of the examples on the website are still a little heavy handed to my taste but at least the process and technique are discussed knowledgably.
mizwizzy — 2010-07-26T07:37:50-04:00 — #20
Shaun great work - I really enjoyed reading your tutorial and I love the sample photos you've used :tup: Nice job!
Maybe I'm being too greedy - I would've liked more details/secrets on how you prepare a subject as you have done with the lower photograph - this is something that I've struggled with perfecting - I'd love to see some tips and tricks on how to achieve this look especially with eliminating the background (exclud. Photoshop tricks)
Looking forward to your next instalment and appreciate you're hard work and effort!
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