Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Photography Tip #4 - De-clutter your background!

Here it is, the final photography tip for my special March contest! This tip is an important one, and also an easy one to follow! It works especially well for posed (or semi-posed) shots, like portraits.

De-clutter your background!

It can be very distracting having bright objects, or odd shapes behind the head of your subject matter. Take this next photo for instance. *I hope my boyfriend does not kill me for putting this old, horrible photo of him on here!*

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There is a table coming out of his head, a distracting red bucket in the background, and basically all sorts of clutter! By moving locations (and adding me to the shot, which always helps... hehe just kidding!), you get a much cleaner shot. The focus remains on the people (and the ridiculously cute dog) instead of on the clutter.

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This photo required a bit of moving (in this case, off to the side of the trailers that we were camping in), but improves things significantly! Here's another example:

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This is a great shot of my nephew when he was just a few months old! The lighting is nice, he's smiling with BIG eyes and the background is fairly neutral, which is great. The only problem is that there is some sort of stick in the top left corner. If the stick gets removed, in this case through the use of photo editing software, it makes Nate stand out just that much more. You could also achieve this same look by rotating to the right a little bit, and cropping out the stick.

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So, next time you're taking photos, really look through your viewfinder and check out what is surrounding your focal point. If it looks too cluttered, move a little or consider another location, and really make your photos pop :)

Tomorrow is the last day to get your photos in for the contest! Just email me your favourite photo (taken by you) and have a chance at winning one of TWO free portrait sessions!!

<3 Gillian

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Just because...

I adore this man! In fact, he's the man of my dreams! How can you not love a face like this, who's willing to spend his birthday with two little munchkins that aren't even his. He's perfect and I love him :)
Comox Valley event and birthday photographer

Oh, and the two little ones are pretty adorable too :)
<3 Gillian

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Campbell Family - Comox Valley Family Portrait Photographer

I had the pleasure of photographing some of my FAVOURITE people over the past few weeks, and was SO happy with the results. My beautiful sister (who happens to be pregnant and glowing) was visiting with my 2 year-old nephew and her husband, so we headed down to Goose Spit for some family photos.

I know I'm a little biased in this case, but aren't they just perfect? :)

Comox Courtenay Family Portrait Photography

My nephew is just full of smiles, all the time!
Comox Courtenay Family Portrait Photography

Comox Courtenay Family Portrait Photography

It's just too easy to make him laugh :)
Comox Courtenay Family Portrait Photography

Comox Courtenay Family Portrait Photography

And my beautiful sister, Jen. I can't wait to do a full maternity shoot when she's back in May for the birth of my new niece or nephew!
Comox Courtenay Family Portrait Photography

The rest of their visit was spent just relaxing at home and playing with my nephew. Loved having them here. I'll leave you with some shots of my nephew's favourite thing to do.... watch Curious George! It's a good thing it's a great movie, or i'd be VERY sick of it by now! hehe

Comox Courtenay Family Portrait Photography
Comox Courtenay Family Portrait Photography

<3 Gillian

Photography Tip #3 - Use available resources

Photography is a popular subject, particularly on the internet! There are SO many resources out there to help you improve your photography skills, all you need to do is FIND them! Unfortunately that can be a bit daunting, so I've done some of the footwork for you and compiled some links for you to check out on basic photography skills. So browse away and enjoy!

The Exposure Triangle - Getting perfect exposure is the key to great photographs. This article will explain the basics to you, and is quite easy to understand.

Understanding Modes on your Digital Camera - If you're just starting out you probably shoot on Automatic mode most of the time, but it's great to learn about the different modes available and what they can do for you! This article explains most of the modes found on common digital cameras.

And finally, a few articles on how to photograph specific subjects that I know a lot of people struggle with!
- Sunsets
- Beach Photos
- Christmas
- Direct sunlight

As you can see, I got all of these articles from a FANTASTIC site called The Digital Photography School. They update on a daily basis, have forums where you can ask questions and are generally a great resource for photographers of all skill levels. Check them out whenever you're in a photography bind, you won't regret it!

And because no post is complete without a photo, here is a gorgeous sunset shot taken by my partner (both in life and photography), Brandon, at Goose Spit. Also, there is just one more week until the photography contest is over, so send in your favourite shots soon!

Comox Courtenay Photography Sunset tips contest

<3 Gillian

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Photography Tip #2 - Hold it steady!

One of the most frustrating things that can happen with a photo is when it ends up blurry! You see the perfect moment between your two children, you grab the camera, click the shutter few times and once the moment has passed you realize that the photos were blurry. The photo below is an example of a photo ruined by movement and camera shake.

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Luckily there can be an easy solution! The number one cause of blurry photos is camera shake. Okay, I made that up... I don't know if it's REALLY the #1 cause in the world, but it definitely is for me! Even the slightest shake of the camera can cause blurriness in a photo, but it's fairly easy to fix! Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Use the Viewfinder! Most new point and shoot cameras allow you to see what you're taking a picture of on the LCD screen, but you'll get a much more stable shot if you actually look through the viewfinder. Using two hands and having the camera stable against your face makes for MUCH less shake.

2. Take a deep breath before you click that button! Breathing in or out while taking a picture can cause your hands and camera to shake enough to cause some blurring. If you take a deep breath right before you shoot, you can easily stop this from happening.

3. When possible, use a tripod or stable surface to rest your camera on. Even some point and shoot cameras have the capability to use a tripod, and even a mini tripod that lets you rest the camera on a table can make a HUGE difference! A great one that allows you to manoeuvre the tripod on all sorts of different surfaces. It's called the Joby Gorillapod and is available for a good price from Future Shop here.

4. Adjust your camera settings! If you're taking photos in a low light situation, sometimes your shutter speed is just too slow, no matter how steadily you hold the camera. If you have a simple point and shoot, it will often have different modes that can help. Try using the action mode (normally identified by a little man running), this can make a HUGE difference. If you have some control over manual type settings, then try bumping up your ISO so that your camera can use a faster shutter speed.

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And in the end you will get much clearer, crisper photos like this one! So give it a try, and then submit your photos to the contest! There are still 2 weeks left to enter and the prize is great :) Just submit one of your favourite photos (by email at gillottaway@hotmail.com) and tell me why you love it so much. At the end of the month I will pick my favourite photo and that person will win a full photo-shoot with me! Watch the Facebook fan page in the next day or so to see the entries we have so far. They're pretty great! :)

<3 Gillian

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Photography Tips - Comox Courtenay Professional Photography

Welcome to the first photography tips post for the month of March! I'm starting out with a REALLY basic tip, but one that I find is the most common mistake that I see among peoples photography.

It's all about composition and focal point. In a photo you want to make sure the viewers eye is drawn to the most important part of the picture. Whether that is a tree, mountain, person, birthday cake or landmark, the theory is the same. Limit the amount of clutter in your photo to make sure the eye is drawn to the correct object.

The easiest way to do this is to crop your photos in tightly around your focal point. Let's take this photo of my nephew on the beach as an example...

Comox Courtenay Professional Photography Advice

This photo definitely needs to be cropped in more. The two boys swimming in the background make it hard to tell what exactly the point of the photo is. Do I want you to focus on the swimmers? Are all three boys important? In this case, no, I want you to only notice my incredibly adorable nephew.

If I just bring the camera in closer to my subject (by zooming or physically moving closer) it makes it much more obvious, as in the next photo.

Comox Courtenay Professional Photography Advice

This photo has nothing to distract us in the photo and the subject takes up most of the frame. This is exactly what we want to achieve in a photo! There is no doubt that the important part of this photo is that fabulous little boy (can you tell I'm a bit biased? hehe)

There are LOTS of ways you can implement this into your own photography. Is it your child's birthday? Zoom in so that your child's face and the cake take up most of the frame. At the park with your kids? We don't need to see the whole piece of play equipment to understand the context of a shot. Zoom in so that we see a small piece of play equipment, and your kids adorable face is taking up most of the frame.

I know that this is a very basic piece of advice, but, like I said, I see the mistake committed far too often on Facebook photos. Next time you have your camera out, move closer to your subject and see how the results turn out. Then share them with me!

Finally, don't forget about the contest! In case you forgot the details, here they are again:

I want you guys to send me your favourite photos, taken by you, for my photography contest. You can email them to me at gillottaway@hotmail.com, along with your name and the reason why you love the shot.

I will post all the entries in an album on my Facebook fan page, and at the end of the month will choose a winner. The winner will receive a photo session with me, and a print package of their favourite photos from the session!

So, spread the word! If I get enough entries I may end up having to give out extra prizes ;)

<3 Gillian