Photography tips

Know Your Gear Inside Out

Canon 5D Mark III + Speedlite Flash + Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 + Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 + Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 + Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 + Battery Charger + Memory Card Folder + Memory Cards Before the event check wedding photography camera settings, study and test available modes. Get sure that all options and functions work properly.

  • Check out what wedding photography gear you should have at the beginning.

Find a Wedding Family Photo Coordinator

The most stressful section of the photoshoot is the family photo. People are running around, you are not acquainted with anyone, visitors are in a ‘festive spirit’ often encouraged by a few drinks, for an outsider, it looks like a chaotic mess. Ask the couple to name a responsible person from each side who will be helping you organize the merry crowd for a pleasant shot. This works great because the couple can enjoy their celebration and the assigned person is more familiar with the rest of the invited.

Put Together a Shot List

Every photographer has a set of successful wedding photography poses, but always ask your clients if they have their own ideas on how they would like to be photographed. If the couple wants to have individual pictures with some guests, you must know about it and realize how to organize everything in the best way possible. Think about all details worthy of being captured and write your Wedding Roundup Photos down.

Phun photos with photoelasticity

Combine physics with fun and you get Phun, right? With this technique, you will be exploring what is called photoelasticity or, more specifically, birefringence. You don’t have to understand what’s going on, and this isn’t hard to do. It just works and looks cool. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Your light source will need to be an LCD computer monitor, TV or, for smaller subjects, a tablet, or even a cellphone. LCD screens emit polarized light, and using polarized light to backlight your subject is part of what’s needed to make this work.
  • Try to limit any other ambient light. The effect will be stronger if the LCD light is dominant in your shot.
  • Use subjects made of hard, clear plastic. Polystyrene is what is used for most clear plastic cutlery and drinkware, so these make good subjects. Often the plastic in cheap picture frames is made from similar materials. Glass objects will not work for this.
  • You will need a polarizing filter on your lens. Standard circular polarizing (CPL) filters work well. Now, get ready to say “Wow!” Place your subject in front of the LCD light source. Bring up an image that will create a totally blank, white, bright screen so that light backlights your subject. You won’t see anything until you look through the camera viewfinder and through the attached polarized filter. Cool, huh? Now rotate the filter. The computer screen will be white, black, or intermediate shades, while the plastic subject will show the rainbow birefringence effect. The patterns will be showing the mechanical stress within the plastic, with tighter patterns where the curves of the object are tighter. Just a tip when you are seeking potential subjects for this kind of photography: Your LCD cellphone screen is a polarized light source. If you have a pair of polarized sunglasses, objects held in front of a blank white screen on the phone and viewed while wearing the glasses will show the effect if they are the right kind of material. You may have to tilt your head to get the same effect as rotating a circular polarizing filter.

Action sequences with Microsoft ICE

I wrote the article “Make Easy Panoramic Images with Microsoft ICE,” which focused primarily on how to use this free and very powerful tool from Microsoft to make panoramic images. That is good fun in itself and a very useful technique. Toward the end of that article, I touched on something else you could do with ICE: sequential action images. These are great for showing the progressive steps of action, and ICE makes the technique quite easy. Follow the link, read through the article, and see how you can make images like this: Here’s an alternative way to make sequential action photos with a completely different technique, one that’s more well-suited to capturing very fast action: “How to Use Multi-flash to Capture Compelling Action Photos.”

Create a computer screen background

An interesting background can add to the story of your photo. If you have a good-sized computer monitor and are shooting a smaller object, being able to create a background on your computer screen opens all kinds of possibilities. Photographing screens would seem a simple process, but can be more tricky than you think. If you plan to do much of this, reading up on the best camera techniques for shooting screens would be time well spent.

Zooming around

In our collection of photo tricks, this one is hardly a secret. You probably have done it before. No? Well, if not, and you have a zoom lens, it’s high time you tried the zoom blur effect. The technique is simple enough. Set your exposure so you can get at least a one-second shutter speed, if not longer. This ought to be easy enough at night if you set the ISO to its lowest setting (such as ISO 100) and stop down the aperture to a small size (such as f/16 or f/22). If you’re shooting in the daytime and these settings alone don’t get you down to a second or more of exposure time, try adding a polarizing filter or a neutral density (ND) filter to reduce the light still further. You can do this technique handheld, but a tripod helps. Set your camera so you get the 2-second shutter delay, then with one hand on the zoom ring, trip the shutter. When you hear it click, zoom in (or out) during the exposure. Play with starting zoomed tight and then pulling out during the exposure, or starting wide and then zooming in. Lights at night can make for great looks. Try only zooming during the first or second half of the exposure. There’s no single way to do this, so play and discover what you can create.

Interaction with reflection and refraction

Find historic images of early photographers, and you might see them standing behind their cameras with black capes thrown over their heads. They did not have DSLRs, where the image entering the lens is reflected onto a mirror, through a prism, and then into the viewfinder right-side up. Instead, early photographers used the first “mirrorless” cameras, and the image came through the lens and displayed upside down on a ground glass at the back of the camera. The image was quite dim, which explains the need for the cape to better see the projected image. We won’t require you to take a course in optical physics so you can understand the behavior of lenses, light, reflection, refraction, or the differences in light transmission through various mediums. Just break out some glassware, pour in a little water, maybe use that piece of black plexiglass we mentioned earlier, find an interesting background, and go for it. If you do want to dive deeper into understanding light behavior, take a look at my article “How to Understand Light and Color to Improve Your Photography.” Maybe take a look at this one as well: “Just Dew It – Fun with Macro Dewdrop Photography.”

Up in smoke

Add this to your collection of photo tricks to make some smokin’ hot images. An incense stick and some care with your lighting will get you going. Then take your shots to the computer where you can add additional effects. Have a look at my article here on DPS, “How to Make Interesting Abstract Smoke Photos,” for a full write-up on this technique.

Oil and water abstracts

I wrote a complete article on this technique, which is another way to get some interesting and colorful abstract images. With minimal equipment and whatever lighting you like (even shooting outdoors with natural light), you can have a whole afternoon of fun.

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