Why Don’t I Look Good in Pictures
Some people don’t and for very real reasons…
I’ve been taking professional photographs for about thirty years. Ever since I started, I’ve heard a constant comment. It is always said something like “I just don’t take good pictures” or “the camera just doesn’t like me.” Almost invariably, when this statement is uttered, everyone within earshot gives a chuckle, or immediately starts assuring the speaker that they really do look good. Sometimes it’s true, but often it’s not. Some people do not photograph well it’s that simple.
To the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever been able to compose a list of physical features that cause someone to photograph well, or photograph poorly. Game show guru Monty Hall believed that the secret was in the size of the head. He insisted that all of the hosts of his shows had large heads. Obviously, this worked for him his unmatched success attests to that.
Hollywood stars and starlets are very persnickety about how they are photographed. There are extreme cases, such as actor Alan Ladd. Mr. Ladd was quite short, and insisted that trenches be dug throughout the sets to make him always appear taller. When a trench wouldn’t do, he had stools. Barbra Streisand goes to great lengths to ensure that only one of her profiles is photographed. Note that she will always have her escort on her right arm to cause photographers to shoot her from the left side her best side, according to the singing actress.
If you’ve looked at enough photographs, and seen enough TV and movies, you’ve been struck by one or two anomalies. Someone who is frightfully unattractive looks great in a photograph, or, someone who is stunningly attractive looks horrible. What causes this? Is the photographer lacking skill? Bad lighting, perhaps? Did the subject have a bad day? Of course these things could be true, but there’s actually a very real, constant explanation for this phenomenon: dimensions.
We humans live in a world of three dimensions: front/back left/right up/down. Since we have stereo vision, we can see all three of these dimensions. Using geometry, we can see how the dimensions are arrived at. A straight line is one dimension: front back. To create the second dimension, make a line at a right angle to the first line, and do so until you have a square. This is two dimensional. Now, make squares at right angles to the first square until you have a cube that’s three dimensional. Voila!
We suspicion that there are more dimensions. Using the first three dimensions as the guide, if you took a cube and made cubes at right angles to it, ultimately you’d have a 4-D cube sometimes called a hypercube, or “tesseract.” The problem is, we can’t even imagine a tesseract, much less make one. It’s all theoretical. Some things in geometry are hard to grasp, but a tesseract is impossible to grasp.
One of the problems we have in understanding geometry is simply this: a two dimensional object, such as a square, has absolutely NO depth (thickness) at all. This means that it is completely invisible when looked at from the side view. But what’s this all got to do with why you don’t look good in photographs? Simple: people are three dimensional, and photographs are only two dimensional.
Anytime that you lose a dimension, your view is penalized, per se. If I take a head-on photograph of a cube, it appears as a square. I can do some ‘tricks’ to fool the viewer, such as make sure there is a shadow showing that the square is actually a cube, or taking the photo at an angle which shows at least one other side of the cube. But no matter what I do, the picture will always be a two dimensional view of a three dimensional object. Needless to say, there is a substantial difference between a square and a cube. And there is a substantial difference between seeing someone and seeing a picture of that same someone.
In people, all sorts of things affect how we perceive them. Many of these things are only present because of the third dimension. The distance between the ears and the tip of the nose, the depth of the eye sockets, the distance the nose and chin protrude from the face, and so on. None of these elements of a person’s appearance are necessarily discernable in a photograph, and yet they are easily seen in person.
Some people are attractive because of the 3-D elements. Others do not depend on 3-D elements so much for their attractive appearance. And some people have such a string feature that is visible in 2-D, that any loss of 3-D is not very noticeable. Paul Newman, for example, was quite famous for his striking blue eyes. Blue is not dependant on dimension. Try to find a professional photograph of comedian/actor Jimmy Durante that did not emphasize his notoriously prominent proboscis. In a frontal view, he was just a mediocre looking fellow, but when his face was photographed to accentuate his large nose, he became quite unique.
If you or someone you know doesn’t photograph well, take heart. You might try getting a digital camera and shooting picture after picture each one showing just a modest shift of the angle of the head. Don’t just change the angle side-to-side, but up and down as well. Looking slightly upward changes everything, as does looking slightly to one side. Do this in full, but not direct light such as under your porch, or on a cloudy day. Dont use the flash! If this doesn’t achieve the desired result, try the same thing, but have a prominent light source. You can do this by pointing a light directly towards yourself, or by sitting in a darkened room, with only one light source in the room.
The techniques above will help to exaggerate the illusion of 3-D in the 2-D medium of the photograph. Do this enough, in enough positions and with enough lighting changes, and you just might be able to get back those good looks the camera’s 2-D limitation has stolen from you. Good luck!
5 Tips For Shooting Winter Landscape
Winter brings out the toughest elements in our climate, with many people putting away their camera bags till early spring. But, if you do put away your camera you are missing out on the raw beauty that this magical season bringstips
Tips to make the trip more enjoyable.
- Wear the right clothes: Its very important to wrap up warm when out shooting winter images. The winter season brings the toughest elements, so if you are planning to spend a few days out and about always be well prepared.
- Watch the weather: Its very important to know what the weather is going to be like. You dont want to travel for a couple of hours and then hear a weather report that tells you that: the weather is wet for the next few days. During the winter months the weather can dramatically change in a matter of hours.
Its always advisable to let someone know where you are going and which route youre planning to take. If you do get injured or ever caught in a storm someone may be able to help.
- Carry only what you need: Carry only the essentials. You dont need to upload your camera bag with every piece of equipment you own. If you are going to be out taking pictures all day you are much better off going as light as possible. Carrying a light load will also help preserve energy. You could be climbing icy rocks or crossing snow filled hills; a warm flask would serve you a lot better than a third camera.
- Look for detail: Snow, ice and frost bring out texture and atmosphere in most subjects. The early frosty morning is an ideal time for close-up photography. The frosty morning also brings out patterns in our landscapes.
Take care where you place your camera: if you are taking pictures early in the morning try placing it at oblique angles to the sun – this will give your images strong shadows. This will also add mood to your landscape images. Once you have found the perfect spot pay extra attention to foreground interest as this will add depth to your image.
- Expose carefully: Snow and ice are extremely difficult to expose properly. Snow usually confuses your cameras metering system or your hand held light meter. When you take a light reading from snow you will automatically get an underexposed image. The meter will record the snow as grey.
Now is the time to start bracketing your shots. If you bracket your shots add 1 – 2 stops of light to compensate for your light meter reading. Using an 18% grey card, which I described in a previous article, should also give you a perfect light reading.
4 Great Camera Tips for Enhanced Digital Photos!!
Just bought a new camera ?? And very excited to start taking photos with your new gadget??
But Alas, why does the picture not look as good as you wanted to !! Fret no more, stay tuned below for 4 new tricks to taking more interesting and memorable photos.
Trick #1 – Try out different camera exposure settings
By exploring the exposure settings of your camera, you could have pictures looking more brilliant with 0.5 to 2 stops underexposed in bright surroundings, and scenes appearing more clear with some overexposure. Just by simple tuning of the exposure level, you can create
pictures which can bring out different moods from people viewing it. Thats why the quote “A Picture Says A Thousand Words” is very true indeed ! For newbies, try out bracketing (i.e: Take the same photos with different exposure levels) and take your favorite pick from them.
Trick #2 – Bring out some creative blur in photos
By introducing some well-planned blur in photos, you can bring across certain important features, while using the rest as good complement, providing an overall nice touch. This can be done in 2 basic types.
First type is depth-of-field blur. Varying the lens aperture between 0.4 to 1.4 can create a lovely, soft background blur which bring sharp focus to the subject in the foreground.
Second type is movement blur. Done by setting the camera exposure on shutter priority, and keep it slow so as to capture interesting streaks as the subject moves in front of the camera.
Trick #3 – Create something out of nothing !!
What does it means? This exercise encourages you to take a step back and rethink how you can take wonderful pictures with things you already encountered on a daily basis.
One approach is to create your shot around the common elements around you such as lines, space and patterns. This can mean anything from the roads to the bridges, the trees, the railings, etc.. You start to see more possibilities and room for creativity.
Trick #4 – Take Unique Photos !!
Try to avoid taking photos from already popular places where everyone else has taken before, it will not be fresh, and the excitement is also much diminished. Try out new extreme photography (for example: underwater photography), or it could be as easy as shooting through thick glasses for that extra 3D feel, or shooting reflections of objects in water or other reflective objects.
Tips for Taking Great Photos
In order to successfully take a good photo, it is important you use a tripod. Tripods will result in sharp, clear pictures. Photographers who do not use a tripod will often experience blurred images.
Take plenty of batteries and film for your camera. Don’t rely on finding stores, it might be difficult to locate supplies on location. Even worse, you may loose precious time or keep others waiting while looking for supplies.
Take multiple shots, so you can guarantee the outcome of your pictures. Experiment: Adjust your camera settings, different lighting, different camera angles. Try to find what works for you.
If you are taking a picture of a group indoors, and conditions are fairly dark, there is danger that the people near you will be overexposed and the people further away will be a little in the dark. If you can arrange the group so that they are all equidistant from the camera. That way there will be an even spread of light.
Avoid direct sunlight, as this can alter natural coloring. A bright but overcast day is perfect. Get up early and shoot the sunrise in the best location. Scout the area the day before or during the dead time during the high noon sun. During midday if you have to shoot, try using a polarized on the lens. Use the filter only at a 90 degree angle from the sun. You must open up approximately 1 to 1 1/2 stops or more sometimes in order to compensate for the diminished light coming through the filter. Meter a gray card and open up from that reading.
Also use the polarized lens at sunset for some great effects on landscapes. The best time to take the majority of night shots is shortly after the sun has set. This allows a small amount of natural light to work with. Set your camera’s resolution at or near its highest setting (largest file size). The last thing you want is a grainy photo. In the majority of instances it is usually best to have the sun behind you when you take a picture. But watch out for shadows your own and the subjects.
Look for ways of naturally framing a shot. Framing accentuates the main subject. Fill your frame!
Move in close. When first starting out you will be surprised at the difference moving closer to the subject will make. Handheld close-ups are often blurry or overexposed. A tripod is essential for taking good close-up shots, especially smaller items. An image stabilizer in the lens is a huge bonus because it means you can handhold the camera in lower light conditions and not have blurring occur in the final picture.
Digital Noise – What Is It? What Causes It? And
Photography | Total Words: 825
Digital Noise – What Is It? What Causes It? And How Can I Get Rid Of It?
Digital noise in photos taken with digital cameras is random pixels scattered all over the photo. It is a similar effect as grain in film photography and it degrades the photo quality.
Digital noise usually occurs when you take low light photos (such as night photos or indoor dark scenes) or you use very slow shutter speeds or very high sensitivity modes.
When taking pictures with a digital camera an electronic sensor (also known as a CCD) built from many tiny pixels is used to measure the light for each pixel. The result is a matrix of pixels that represent the photo.
As with any other electronic sensor the CCD is not perfect and includes some noise (also know as white noise to hint on its randomness attribute). In most lighting the light is significantly stronger than the noise. However in extreme scenes where the light is very low or when a high amplification is needed noise levels can become significant and result in pixels in the photos that include more noise data than real photo light data. Those pixels usually appear as random dots or stains on the photo (for example white dots scattered randomly on the photo).
Understanding digital noise in various scenes:
low light (night photos or dark scenes): when the scene is dark the amount of light measured by each pixel of the CCD is low. When the light intensity is very low it can become too close to the level of noise naturally found in the CCD. In such cases some pixels can appear as noise because the noise level measured for them is significantly close or higher than the actual light intensity.
slow shutter speeds: when the shutter is kept open for a long time more noise will be introduced to the photo. A slow shutter speed translates to the CCD integrating more light per pixel. The effect can be easily understood as the CCD accumulating light in each pixel and measuring the total light over the shutter period of time. However at the same time the CCD is also accumulating noise. For that reason in slow shutter speed photos some pixels will appear as noise because for these pixels the amount of noise integrated is significantly close to or higher than the actual light measured.
high sensitivity modes: high sensitivity in digital photography is implemented by mechanisms that result in amplification. The CCD amplifies the measurements it takes. However there is no way to just amplify the actual photo light that falls on the CCD pixels instead the noise and the actual light are both amplified. The result is that the CCD becomes sensitive not only to light but also to its own noise. When too much amplification is applied some pixels will appear as noise.
While it is impossible to completely prevent digital noise there are a few options that allow you to significantly decrease it. When taking photos in low light scenarios such as night photos there are two main parameters to play with: sensitivity and shutter speed. Raising sensitivity creates more internal noise in the CCD while slowing down the shutter allows for more noise to integrate on the CCD. The amount of noise generated by both parameters is different. It is recommended that you set your camera to manual mode and play with a few different sensitivity/shutter speed pairs to find out the one that generates the least noise.
Some cameras include a built-in feature called noise reduction. Noise reduction is implemented by sophisticated software that can identify the noise pixels and remove them. For example the software can identify the noise pixels based on their randomness and usually extreme intensity gap between them and their neighboring pixels. Removing the noise can be implemented by interpolating a replacement pixel value based on its neighboring pixels.
If you do not have a built-in noise reduction feature or it does not work properly you can use a PC based software that removes digital noise. Many photo processing software include a combination of automatic and manual digital noise removal. Some software packages can also use a few photos of the same object to average them and thus remove the noise (relying on the fact that digital noise is random and the noise pixels will be different in each photo taken).
Digital noise should be understood by any amateur or professional photographer. However for most photographers digital noise is not a practical problem even in low light scenarios usually digital noise is minimal and can be significantly reduced by simply turning on your cameras noise reduction feature. For professional photographers who shoot in more extreme conditions digital noise can present a real problem and can be dealt with using a combination of optimizing the camera settings and removing noise with professional software.
ISO – Light & Quality
The ability to change ISO on digital cameras provides the professional (and amateur, if he knows enough about technology) photographer opportunity to create quality images virtually anywhere and anytime.
In a nutshell, ISO technology replaced the old ASA on cameras requiring film. With our older models, we had to change film with different ASA if we wanted a different speed of film. Now, our digital cameras allow us to change ISO on a settings menu with a turn of the dial. No change of film is required, and images are saved on the memory card regardless of ISO setting.
Digital cameras use image sensors instead of film, and ISO (International Standards Organization) simply denotes how sensitive the image sensor is to the amount of light present. If the ISO is set at a high level, for example, the image sensors are more sensitive and pictures can be taken in relatively little light. On the other hand, lower ISO settings are used when more light is available.
Most digital cameras today have an ISO Auto mode, which simply put, means the camera will select a higher or lower ISO, depending on available light. For the amateurs needs for ease of use and quality pictures, the auto mode works well most if not all the time. However the professional photographer will need to learn to manually select ISO for quality pictures.
If you are not depending on ISO Auto mode, the light meter on the camera tells you when you need to change the ISO. If there is not enough light for good exposure, you have a choice of either using the flash mode or changing the ISO. Using flash may be the best choice for good exposure. On the other hand, if you are in a museum or facility that does not allow flash photography, you always have the option of selecting the next higher ISO setting and a faster shutter speed. Adjusting ISO usually requires an adjustment in shutter speed and aperture.
If you have more light than you need and are in danger of bleaching out the photo, lowering the ISO will lower the image sensors and exposure is more likely to result in good quality. Again, depending upon what you want to capture in the photo, you may also need to adjust shutter speed and f-stop (aperture).
Our message in this discussion is that understanding ISO and developing the ability to adjust it depending upon the scene youre shooting is another valuable tool in your camera bag. Appropriately adjusting ISO to circumstances of light equals good quality pictures.
Hope you enjoy this article
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