Portraits – Candid

Candid shots can be hard to pick out from a few select pictures because posing does not have to show the subjects awareness of the photographer. However for our purposes we will call those posed shots candid anyway for simplicity’s sake.

What does “Candid” really mean? :

“Truthful and straightforward; frank.
(of a photograph of a person) Taken informally, especially without the subject’s knowledge.”

So we could even say that the most important quality of a candid photo is not, the lack of knowledge on the part of the subject but how truthful the image is to practical life versus our Utopian fantasy. This is not to say, a photo should include our frustration, irritation and messes, but rather kept simple and uncomplicated.

Is that easier said than practically applicable? Perhaps, although here are some suggestions to inspire your own creativity for simplicity.

  1. Focus on your subject and what has drawn their attention.
  2. Beware of your frame corners so as not to include distractions.
  3. Intentionally use backgrounds that support your shot and not stealing your viewer’s attention.

Focusing on your subject and the object holding their attention: Using a macro lens will crop a lot of the surrounding scenery bringing your focus to rest on your subject and their object of attention.

Being aware of what your frame corners catch which may distract a viewer is easy to forget. In fact I have found that if I am not paying attention I still catch minor undesirables. It can sound like photography is an art impossible to meet or only for the totally devoted  who do nothing else but study for the next super-image. I can nearly guarantee you this is not the case in most photographer’s cases.

Intentionally using backgrounds that are not flashy or precisely perfect have helped me draw out more of my subject’s presence versus a nice scenic shot with a presence.

Learning Your Equipment – Part 3

Learning your equipment sounds really easy until getting out into the field and realize, “I never thought about how to evaluate the amount of light put out by my light source!” Now this opens up a new area for questions and learning. “How sensitive is my camera to light?” “How does my camera’s sensitivity measure against its shutter speed?” “How does my camera’s sensitivity to light change with each aperture stop?”

Some answers can be “too simple” or rather purely informational without direction as to the application of the information. So in this post I hope to bring you two options explaining their application to the best of my ability.

Option 1: Light meter. Handheld light meters get more expensive the fancier features they contain. There is an excellent article by B&H Photo on learning about handheld light meters and information to help you choose the appropriate light meter for you. Most digital cameras are equipped with light meters (if you will remember the light meter I referred to in my first post on “Learning Your Equipment”). However, there is one key difference between a handheld light meter and a light meter in your camera.

The difference in light meters held in your hand or in your camera is this, the meter’s location. Now what will help you most? A light meter showing you the amount of light surrounding your subject or the amount of light around your camera? Answer: You want to know the amount of light around your subject. That makes it a little difficult to measure the light around your subject with your camera when it is more efficient to have it set-up on your tripod.

Option 2: Requires a lot of experience and a trained eye and mind. Using your own vision to estimate the light around your subject is cheapest and builds your skill. I am still tweaking my own skill, so I am not much practical help at this time. Some practical pointers to come in Fridays post.

Snap shots – Part 2

Have you ever had one of the best snap shots ever, but something in the photo distracts you from what you originally saw? You are not alone! At the end of this post I will show you two of my images, one original one edited. However it is not completely on our topic today.

As we talked about in the original “Snap shots” post, anticipating the action will give you a  head start on getting the camera up and ready or even as much time as getting a different perspective on your subject. Be careful of too much enthusiasm by “over composing” the candid snap shot. I suggest being able to take a different perspective on the snap shot; if you are able to anticipate that far in advance; to avoid photographing undesired objects.

My next suggestion is, if while reviewing your snap shots you see a distracting object surrounding the subject or in the background, crop the photo to exclude the distraction.

Crop definitions:

Passive cropping – is removing an undesirable object from the photo without cropping out any part of your subject.

Aggressive cropping – to remove part of your subject from the photo to direct attention or remove distraction without removing vital elements.

Please never be afraid of cropping “too close” to your subject. You camera only sees a small portion of what you see. So take advantage of it by getting in even closer! The less surrounding your subject, draws more of your viewer’s attention to your subject. Aggressive cropping can be bad, but I have not seen anyone over crop their own photo, because they know their intended subject.

So the two suggestions being:

  1. Get closer to you subject physically or with a zoom lens.
  2. Crop the digital image.

Now for my little “mess-up”:

Oh well! We cannot win them all! Those we lose, we just edit. Right?