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Tips for Terrific Vacation Photos

It’s summer vacation and you’re snapping photos at whim trying to capture these memories to savor when the cold winds of winter return. But haphazard shooting will only find you leafing through prints or thumbing your iPhone at home and wondering why those beautiful scenes didn’t translate to breath-taking photos. But not this time. These simple tips will have you aiming your little pocket-sized point-and-click cameras and capturing the syrupy sweet summer images like a pro.

Get a Little Closer

close-up face image

Zoom in, focus and shoot for a great portrait

Don’t be shy. When it comes to portrait photography, closer is better.

Tip: Let your subjects fill the frame. Don’t worry if you’ve trimmed the top of their head or cut off an ear, it’s only a photo. So channel your inner Van Gogh and step-up…to your subject.

Change Perspective

vodka still image

Looking up at a vodka still shows it's scale

architectural image

Angle up for a skyward view of a unique facade

Photographing large buildings and architectural details can often be difficult, if not boring. But not if you change your perspective.

Tip: Try shooting a large building by moving up close and shooting up. This emphasizes the height and scale. Or go low like the limbo and capture a bugs-eye view. Try this for shots on the waters edge.

A change of perspective works well for portraits too.

Tip: Try getting above your subject and shooting down. Ladies, especially those multi-generational ones, will love the way it stretches the neck and reduces under-eye shadows.

Beauty is in the details

monarch butterfly image

Patience may be needed for some detail shots

cherries image

Colors and texture are brilliant up close

A small flower that lands in the pool. Little toes covered in sand or a hand grasping a bucket and shovel. Photographing these small details of your trip will bring back a flood of memories.

Tip: when shooting something small and close-up be sure to use the Macro setting on your camera. (It’s the one that looks like a flower). In many cases you won’t need a flash but you will want to hold the shutter button half-way to make sure the focus is on your subject not the background.

Forget the face

sandals in a circle image

Even faceless wedding photos can be fabulous

Hands and feet are a great place to train your lens. Taking a photo without faces doesn’t remove all humanity. In fact it often focuses it. Our hands and feet, elbows and knees show all different aspects of our personality and likeness.

Tip: focus on the extremities instead of the face. A handful of sea glass, or pretty painted toes are unique vacation reminders and can be deeply sentimental too.

Watch your back

walking on the pier image

A father and sons moment caught from behind

Capturing the backside often says more than those copy-cat cheesy grins your kids give up. When their back is turned you’ll get a natural posture and often catch a glimpse of true emotions; curiosity, sadness, excitement and peace.

Tip: Try to capture emotion over setting in these images. You’ll never say “cheese” again when you shoot from behind. Even your unsmiling relatives can’t ruin these shots. Just remember the backside may not be everyone’s best side. So frame your photos accordingly.

Play with your food

table setting with food image

Martha photographs her table, why don't you?

gelato image

Memories come in all flavors!

Food, drinks and other objects are some of the best vacation imagery. You may not remember the name of restaurant, but you’re sure to remember the fabulous seafood and awesome margaritas if you take their pictures. We’re a food centric society, why fight it. Photograph it.

Tip: food doesn’t look great with a flash. So try to capture images where natural lighting is enough. Get in close, use the Macro setting and snap away. Found a special micro-brew beer that you drank all trip? Photograph the can. Even a bottle cap or cork could be inspiration for a great vacation memory.

Go down under

underwater photo

submerge your memories with an underwater camera

Underwater that is. So many inexpensive cameras are now waterproof up to 8 meters. If you’re going on vacation to a tropical island, where you’ll spend most of your time on the beach and in the water, why not invest in a handy point-and-shoot with this feature. It’s amazing what they’re capable of these days. Whether you just want the safety of taking photos from the kayak without the fear of total camera loss from a few drips, or you’re hoping for a close encounter with a school of fish, an underwater camera is a must.

Tip: purchase a floating wristband for the camera in case it falls in the water unexpectedly. If you fall overboard your sunglasses and keys will sink to the bottom but your photos will bob along on the surface.

I hope these simple tips will tune up your photography skills for super summer season.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2010 in photography, Quick Tips

 

Understanding File Formats: Bitmap vs. Vect

Just what the heck is image formatting, and why should you care?

Your printer wants 300dpi images in JPEG format, your webmaster needs a 72dpi GIF and the sign company needs your logo in an EPS vector format…sound familiar? If you’ve struggled to understand why you need sixteen versions of your logo when they all look the same, then read on.

Image file formatting is something every DIY marketer should know. Whether you’re creating your own graphics, or just trying to keep track of the corporate identity, a basic knowledge of computer file types is important.

When you save a digital image or graphic there are several formats available. The most commonly used in everyday business are JPEG, EPS, TIFF and GIF. Learn when, why and how, to use these file formats correctly and you will save time and hassle when working with designers, printers and other service providers.

Bitmap vs. Vector

File formats all fall into one of two categories Bitmap (also known as Raster) or Vector graphics. Understanding this simple difference will go a long way in knowing how to save your files correctly.

Bitmap files are made up of little squares called pixels, which when assembled in a certain order make up the final image. Think of it like a puzzle where each piece is a single color. When put together in the right order, those pieces make a picture. The number of pieces in that puzzle determines the size of the file, as well as the resolution. Which brings me to dpi.

What is so important about dpi? It determines the resolution of your image. A 72 dpi image has 72 dots per inch. Imagine that you have a finished puzzle that measures 8×10 and has 72 single colored pieces. Now imagine what would happen if that same 8×10 puzzle had 300 pieces. Your image would be sharper and possibly include more detail. When viewing at the same distance the colors would blend more seamlessly into one another thus giving you a clearer image. That’s the difference a few hundred dpi makes. That’s why resolution matters. If you want to avoid the jaggies or becoming pixelated, then leave the 72dpi images for web use only, and for print choose 300dpi or higher.

JPEG and GIF are the most common bitmap formats. GIF is used primarily for the web. To be honest, my experience is print based, so I have little use for GIF. (Not that I’m slighting the GIF devotees out there, I just don’t use it much). In fact, bitmap images can be saved in many other formats, including TIFF and EPS. So you’re probably wondering, what’s the difference?

It’s all about compression. When I first started working on the computer to do graphic design and layout (as opposed to pre-computer hand-cut paste-up) I found a quick and easy way to understand the difference between JPEG and TIFF. JPEG is a lossy format. Not ‘lousy’ but ‘lossy’. This means that each time the file is saved, it is compressed. In order to do make the file smaller it selectively loses data. Whereas TIFF is a lossless format, meaning it is generally uncompressed and stores all the original data. TIFF can also preserve any layers for future editing, while JPEG images must first be flattened.

JPEG was created for photography, which explains why most digital cameras use this format. But as technology continues to improve other formats like RAW are also showing up as options.

So if photographs and detailed images are generally saved in bitmap formats, then what use do we have for vector formats? Plenty.

Vector images are made up of points, lines and shapes instead of pixels. While it would be extremely difficult to reproduce a photograph in vector format it is perfect for simple graphics, like logos. One of the best advantages of vector graphics is the limitless potential for manipulating the image without losing clarity. For example a logo created in a vector program, such as Adobe Illustrator, could be scaled from business card to billboard and remain just as sharp. And, believe it or not, the file size wouldn’t be much different.

It’s also important to note that not every program can OPEN every file type. You’ve probably discovered this on your own, but it bears noting. This is especially true of vector formats like EPS. Vector files are saved and read by the computer through a set of mathematical instructions. If you try to open an EPS in Microsoft Word it won’t work. That’s because Word doesn’t interpret those instructions. But don’t despair. If you need to view the graphic, but not edit it, you can often import or ‘place’ a vector file into a word processing program.

Hopefully understanding a few of these basic facts about image file formats will make your life a little easier next time someone asks for your logo or requests a photo of your latest product.

For a detailed description on the difference between bitmap and vector images check out this link.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2009 in Design, photography

 

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Photo Quick Tip: Rule of Thirds

No matter what type of business you run there will probably come a time when you need to use photographs to promote yourself. Hotels need good images of their lobbies, rooms and amenities. Retail businesses want to showcase products. Realtors know that buyers will walk away from a house that doesn’t “show” well. Even corporate america wants to put their best face forward when translating their products and employees onto pages of an annual report. Good photography is a key element in good marketing.

So how does the Do It Yourself marketer give their photography a lift? One quick and easy solution is to practice the Rule of Thirds.

Rule of Thirds

This is one of the art school basics when it comes to composition. The primary theory is to divide your image into thirds, vertically and horizontally, then place the focal points of your shot along one of those lines, or where they cross. It sounds more complicated than it is.

The easiest way to test this theory is with a landscape shot. Take a look at these two examples. The first image is taken without the Rule of Thirds. The second employs it.

Sunset with no composition rules

Sunset with no composition rules

Use the horizon on a landscape shot as a quick reminder to adjust your image for the Rule of Thirds. And remember not to center your focal point. Instead align your subject off-center both horizontally and vertically.

Sunset using Rule of Thirds

Sunset using Rule of Thirds

Practiced artists and photographers are able to visualize this grid in their head before they shoot. And with a little practice, you can too. Until then it’s easy to adjust the image with proper cropping.

While this is easy to see on a landscape image, you can also use this rule on portraits, product images and other photographic subjects.

Just remember, when it comes to art, most rules are there for a reason, but they’re also meant to be broken. Use the Rule of Thirds as a general guideline and you’ll see your photography improve without taking a course in aperture, shutter speed and ISO.

For additional examples and greater detail on the Rule of Thirds check out this link.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2009 in photography, Quick Tips

 

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