Monday, December 8, 2008

How to photo shoot a two year old.

I call myself the Zen Master of the two year olds. I seem to attract a whole lot
of em in my studio. And as a result I got fairly good at photographing them.

What's more challenging than a two year old? An 18 month old of course. These little people are balls of pure emotion and mood, and the closer they are to baby age, the more out of control they are.

What's better than a two year old? A two and a half year old (little guy on top is this age). As they pull away from that magical number two, they get better and more manageable.

But, you need to use certain strategies to guarantee success just about everytime. I have a near perfect batting ratio in this area so I get to brag.

As a matter of fact, I am so confident in these strategies, about 3 years ago when speaking to a group of 65 photogs at an all day photography workshop, I requested, and got, a two year old to perform a live model shoot in front of everyone.

And I pulled it off. (I admit to you, I was asking myself before hand: What am I getting myself into!!?? This could blow up in my face!!!...aaarrggghhh...)

When mom and dad and two year old show up in my studio, I always sit and relax in the reception area. This is key. I do NOT look at the child. I converse with the parents. Out of my peripheral vision I watch the child. When I feel they sort of trust me and are comfortable, I then head into the studio, with family in tow.

Two year olds want to be with their moms and dads, so family portraits are the easiest. Getting them alone is tougher, but do able.

I always let the kid act on their own volition. In other words, I will place a chair where I want the photo taken, and NOT say a word. They almost always go to it. If they don't, I go to plan B. What is plan B you ask? I DON'T KNOW. I wing it. This is called faith. You gotta just believe you will come up with something. Sometimes you gotta back off, go back to chattin with the parents, getting the attention off the kid.

Of course, I ask the parents beforehand to NOT instruct or look at the kid. If things go meltdown, it's imperative that we get the attention off the kid. They are very psychic and they know when you, or the parents, want them to 'perform'. Remember, I want them to act on their own volition. So stop looking at the kid with that look. And, never loose faith or show stress/frustration.

I want and need the kids trust. THEY decide how that plays out, not me, or mom and dad. This is the key. They have to feel trust and feel like your just a goofy uncle or aunt, mom and dad aren't......"acting all weird with that 'look', causing me more stress and are these people going to poke a needle in me, and why's everyone looking at me, and all this scary equipment and everyone's looking at me, and I don't understand and it's a huge conspiracy, I knew it, I Knew IT!!! SOMETHINGS WRONG, I can't handle it anymore......wwaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!! Run, run, run as fast as you can from this dangerous place. They are all out to get me, even mommy and!!!!...."

Know what I mean?

It takes time, trust and behavior. Two year olds will have it no other way. This is hard to do, takes time to master. You will get lucky and once in a while and a two year comes in and is a joy to photograph.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

canon powershot 870 is review

click link to read.

Tips for better backgrounds

9 Tips for Getting Backgrounds Right

Posted: 30 Nov 2008 06:01 AM PST
Tree-Out-Of-HeadPhoto by igglybwiggs

Backgrounds present both opportunities and challenges to photographers. On the one hand they can put a subjects in context and make it stand out in a way that highlights it wonderfully - but on the other hand backgrounds can overwhelm subjects and distract from them.

Some of the common problems that photographers have with backgrounds include:

* Distracting Focal Points - we’ve all seen this happen - we line up a shot of a friend to take as a portrait and just as we press the shutter someone else pops their head up over their shoulder with a silly face. The result is that the real focal point of the shot becomes the face pulling person. This is an extreme example of distracting focal points in the background but it’s something that happens quite a lot.
* Protruding Elements from Subjects Heads - I nearly didn’t include this one but it’s so common that I just had to mention it. When shooting a portrait one of the common mistakes is for some background element to look like it’s sticking up out of a person’s head - like a horn. It’s often trees (as in the photo to the left) but could be anything. These shots can be quite comical but can also really throw the composition of a shot off.
* Competing Lines - if your subject has lines in it and your background also has strong lines they can compete in such a way that the image becomes busy or so that the lines clash with one another.

9 Strategies for Dealing with Distracting Backgrounds
1. Check your Background Before Hitting the Shutter Release

Ok - this strategy isn’t rocket science, in fact you’d think it almost goes without saying - but unfortunately it doesn’t and many of the mistakes that I see in photographs could have been avoided simply by checking the background before taking the shot and taking some sort of evasive action.

Always scan the background of your shots before taking a shot. Look for colors that don’t fit with the rest of the image, bright patches that might distract the eye, lines that clash, people that don’t belong etc.

2. Move Your Subject

This is once again a fairly simple technique but is probably the first thing you should consider. Quite often asking a portrait subject to take a step to the left or right will fix things either by putting the distraction behind them or by putting it out of frame.
Background-Blur-1Photo by alterednate
3. Change your Shooting Angle

If you have distracting elements in the background of a shot but can’t move your subject another strategy is to move yourself and shoot from a new angle. This might mean rotating around your subject but could also include getting down low to make the sky the background or even getting up high and shooting down onto your subject to make the background the ground.
4. Using Aperture to Blur Backgrounds

One of the most useful things to learn as a way to combat distractions in backgrounds (and foregrounds) is to use the power of your lens to throw the background out of focus using depth of field. What you’re trying to achieve with this technique is a nice blurred background where you can’t really make out what’s going on there.

The easiest way to do this is to use a wide aperture (the smaller the number the wider the aperture). The wider your aperture the more blurry your background should become.

The quickest way to see the impact of this strategy is to switch your camera into aperture priority mode and to take a number of shots at different apertures. Start with an aperture of f/20 and work your way down - one stop at a time. Once you get down to under f/4 you’ll start seeing the background in your shots getting blurrier and blurrier.
5. Using Focal Length to Blur Backgrounds

Another way to help get your backgrounds nice and blurry is to use a lens with a long focal length. Longer tele-photo do help a little to get narrower depth of field (although the amount is less than many think). In actual fact the impact is smaller than it seems and the main reason for the change is that with a longer focal length the subject actually takes up more space in the frame. Lots of arguements have been had over whether focal length impacts this - you can read more about it here and here - I’ll leave it to the experts to discuss the finer points but will say that using longer focal lengths does seem to have some impact and is worth experimenting with.
6. Place Subjects In front of Open Spaces

Placing your subject a long way in front of other objects will also help to make those objects more blurry. For example if you have the choice between shooting your subject standing right in front of a brick wall or standing in front of an open field - the open field shot will have a much more blurred background simply because the brick wall is just centimeters from your subject and inside the focal range whereas an open field stretches off into the distance where everything will be out of focus.
7. Fill your frame with your subject

One of the most effective ways of removing distractions from backgrounds is to remove the background altogether by totally filling the frame with your subject. Get up close and/or use your zoom lens to tightly frame the shot and you’ll not only remove distractions but could end up with a high impact shot as well.
BackgroundPhoto by Keith Morris
8. Make your Own Background

Sometimes there just isn’t any suitable background and so you might want to consider making your own. This could range from buying a purpose built studio background or simply buying some cloth to do the job for you.

I know of one keep photographer who goes out shooting photographic portraits and carries large colored sheets of card with him to put up on walls to act as a background.

The other thing to keep in mind is that in many instances you can move things around in the background of your shots (especially if you’re shooting indoors). For example I was recently photographed in my home for a newspaper and the photographer had me move a number of pieces of furniture during the shoot because they were distracting in the shots. It took a little effort but the impact in the shots was quite incredible.
9. Post Processing

I’m no expert in using photo editing software but there are numerous ways of editing a shot after you’ve taken it to get rid of distracting elements. These can include blurring techniques, actual removing of elements and replacing them and techniques such as selective coloring (ie making your subject stand out by making your background black and white (or at least sucking some of the color out of it).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 Review

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 Review

Review Date: November 4th 2008
Author: Jon Canfield

Leave a comment about this Review

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7

The latest release of Photoshop Elements, Adobe's lower cost and friendlier alternative to Photoshop CS4, is now out for Windows users. With every release, Adobe adds some new features, and makes some existing ones more powerful and easier to use. Version 7 is no exception to this, and blurs the line between Elements and CS4 even further. Let's take a look at what's new and different in Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.

Elements 7 is arranged in four main components. Organizer helps you find, tag, and sort your images. Fix gives you quick access to the most common adjustments you'll make with your images. Create is where you'll find slide shows, calendars, and print projects like books, templates for scrapbooking, and more. Share is where web albums, email, CD/DVD copying, and other similar output types are found.
Ease of Use

Organizer has added several new features, and one of the most helpful is the text search. You can start typing and Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 will filter out the displayed images as you type. So, to find all the images tagged with California in my catalog, I only needed to get as far as "cali". You can still browse by selecting the keyword tag, but when you have a long list of keywords, the text search really simplifies finding images and is a welcome addition. This isn't limited to a simple search either. Typing multiple words you can filter the results even more. So, by adding "flower" to the previous "cali", I see only images with the keywords California and flower. You can also use the text search to find images based on date or EXIF data. If you're a Organizer user, this feature alone is worth the upgrade to version 7.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
Figure 1

There are now three editing modes in Adobe Photoshop Elements 7. Quick Fix has the most common editing features, including lighting corrections, color balance, and sharpening, along with new one-step touch up tools like whiten teeth, blue sky enhancement, and selective black & white conversions.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
Figure 2

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
Figure 3

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
Figure 4

Guided Edit gives you a list of editing tasks, such as cropping. Creating merged photos, applying effects, and playing actions. Depending on the task you select, Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 will either automatically apply the effect, or walk you through simple adjustments, typically with a single button click to perform the edit.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
Figure 5

The Action Player has several available effects, each with their own options. It's as simple as selecting the action you want, such as Special Effects, and then the type of effect, like Faded Ink with Vignette, making it easier to apply adjustments that would have required more interaction with the program in the past.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
Figure 6

Photographic Effects lets you easily turn an image into a line drawing, old photo, or Velvia look. The Old Photo setting in particular has a number of options, including what type of black & white conversion, tonal adjustments, texture options to add grain, and Hue/Saturation to tone the image for sepia and other processing looks.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
Figure 7

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
Figure 8

Also new in Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 is the Scene Cleaner. If you have multiple images of the same subject, you can remove unwanted areas that differ with a simple mouse drag. In the example shown here, each shot has someone walking through the scene. By painting a line on the person in red, we can remove that, automatically replacing it with the same area in the other image. Very easy, and much cleaner than the typical cloning adjustment (I wish I had this one when editing my ex-daughter-in-law from some family photos!)

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
Figure 9

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
Figure 10

Full Edit is where you have access to everything Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 has to offer. New here is the 2-in-1 Smart Brush. This brush performs the selection and edit in one step. After you select one of the smart brushes, you paint on the image where you want the effect to be shown. Elements 7 creates a layer mask as you paint and applies the selected effect. If you want to experiment with other effects, you can just select them from the list and your image will automatically be updated to use the new effect.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
Figure 11

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
Figure 12

Adjustment layers can now be edited separately with the Smart Brush Each layer ads a adjustment pin that gives you access to the controls for that adjustment, making it easy to modify your changes as you go along.

Surface Blur is a quick and easy way to smooth selected areas of an image, such as skin, for a better effect.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 adds a number of new templates and themes for output projects, including photo books. You can rearrange layouts and pages, and let Elements auto-fill your pages.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
Figure 13

Camera Raw has been updated and you can use raw images in your projects without going through the Camera Raw plug-in – Elements 7 will automatically apply default adjustments to your raw images.

Slideshows can include both still and video and output to various formats including InstantMovie (with Premier Elements 7) that automatically adds video effects, transitions, motion effects, and other goodies.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
Figure 14

Even without Premiere Elements 7, the slideshow features in Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 are some of the best available.

Online Albums use Flash to create interactive photo shows. There are a variety of templates included with Elements, and once the album is created you can easily upload to or export to CD/DVD or FTP.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
Figure 15

Printing is relatively unchanged from the previous version of Elements. You still have options for individual prints, contact sheets, or Picture Packages, and as fitting for Elements, the UI is easier to grasp for the typical person that doesn't want to invest time learning the ins and outs of printing.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
Figure 16

Finally, there is This online service, available in a free Basic or a subscription Plus package, lets you post your images online and gives you editing features for those images. Plus members can receive new content, such as templates and backgrounds that will be downloaded automatically for online or offline use. Additionally, automatic backup is available for both levels. The Basic package gives you 2GB of storage space, while the Plus package increases this to 20GB.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
Figure 17

Sharing features let you select an album and choose whether to share publically, or e-mail to friends to keep the images private from anyone you don't wish to allow access to.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7
Figure 18
Ratings (out of 5)
Value for Money

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 is a solid upgrade to this longtime standard for ease of use. The new tools, such as Smart Brushes, Scene Clean, and Play Actions make the program even more useful than before while reducing complexity for the casual user. is a nice addition and makes accessing and sharing your images from anywhere much easier than before. It's long been my feeling that Elements does everything that 80% of the users need. With this latest release, I think even more people will find that Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 is the only image editing program they need to consider.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Casio w63ca

The Casio W63CA is a new 8 megapixel camera phone complete with 9-point auto-focus and a 3 inch LCD screen. Only announced in Japan so far, the W63CA takes a typical Casio Exilim compact camera as its starting point, and then designs a camera phone around that, rather than trying to cram photo features into a mobile phone. The Casio W63CA features a 3.1 inch OLED screen with 480 x 800 pixels, face detection, anti-shake and Casio’s now standard YouTube video mode. The W63CA will be available in Japan in early-November.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

7 tips for great pregnancy shots

1. The Great Outdoors:

So many maternity sessions are done in studio. I understand the reasons behind this. I’ve been pregnant. 3 times over. I’m not the petite and pretty pregnant. I’m the gal you find wedged between the double doors at The Sizzler. Studio shoots are great because there’s privacy. I can’t argue with that. Particularly if you’re going to do anything in less than a fully clothed state (that’s my PC way of saying naked). But there’s something about being outside. Taking that natural beauty of a woman who’s ready to bring new life into the world and placing her in the majesty of the great outdoors is simply breathtaking.

2. At Home:

When you shoot a mommy-to-be in her own home she’s comfortable to let go in a way that she may not be otherwise. This is a fantastic reason to hold maternity sessions at home. This is not however why I do it. As a photographer I feel like it’s my responsibility to help my subjects feel comfortable and capable of giving me their best, no matter where we’re shooting. I pride myself on my ability to do this. To me, it’s a HUGE part of my success as a photographer (Uh oh. I feel a post in this regard coming on… check back soon). I shoot maternity sessions at home primarily because it’s wonderful for a couple to have a capture that truly shows what their life was like at the time their baby came to be a part of their family. I’m a second generation photographer so I’ve got some really lovely shots of my sweet momma awaiting my arrival. My favorite however is a simple picture of her standing by my bassinet with her hand on her tummy. I CHERISH it.

3. Simplify:

No matter where you shoot, studio, home, outside, 7Eleven, you’ve got to simplify your surroundings. The beauty of a mother anticipating the arrival of her child should be captured in a way that allows the miracle to speak for itself. Pregnancy doesn’t require anything “else” to be present in a photograph to help tell it’s story. Everything in the frame that may not belong will simply serve to distract from the story that’s already being told, naturally. Pay attention to background.

4. Help Her Feel Beautiful

Women don’t generally feel very sexy when they’re pregnant. Understandably so, and trust me I connect with this feeling as much as the next gal. But just because an expectant mother doesn’t feel sexy, that doesn’t mean she’s not totally knock out. Bring that out in her. Pull that beauty out of her. A good way to do this is by talking as you shoot. It’s perfectly appropriate to say things like: “That’s beautiful!” “Yes, perfect!” “Oh that’s just LOVELY.” “Pregnancy looks good on you girl!” Whatever works! If you’re a male photographer you’ll need to be careful about what you say in this crazy world of sexual harassment, but you’re even more capable of pulling the beauty out of her than a female photographer. It’s one thing when your girlfriend tells you you’re beautiful, but when your girlfriend’s brother tells you that you’re looking good, you actually believe it. Obviously be careful and be genuine. The success of this tip will depend on your personality, but you can help her help herself. If she feels pretty she’ll look a whole heck of a lot better. It’s that simple.

5. Highlight Relationship:

Hopefully new babies are coming into a loving home. I always try to include photographs that highlight the tender relationship between mom and dad, because bringing a child into the world with someone is arguably love in it’s purest form.

6. Don’t Forget the Siblings… or the dog for that matter:

Remember that often a baby is coming into an established family unit (not to say that Mom and Dad alone aren’t an “established family unit” but for the sake of my point, go with me on this one). If the siblings are available, make sure to include them in at least a few frames. I have to mention the dog, because I’ve got a sister-in-law who’s dog, Wanda (seriously that’s her name) is her pride and joy. When she and her hubby have kids, you can trust that Wanda will be right there in at least a handful of her maternity photos. She’s as much a part of the family as the next guy.

7. Give ‘em Something Different:

Don’t just shoot what’s always been shot. This is a good general rule of photography. I really try to be “consistently inconsistent” (I recently heard another photographer, Nate Kaiser of, use this term and I had to pirate it). Let me explain, you’ve got to approach each shoot as it’s own. I’m very committed as a photographer to tailoring each shoot for the subject I’m photographing. Like I said before, this is a good general rule that applies particularly to maternity photography. Even though millions and millions of mothers have given birth to millions and millions of babies for millions and millions of years, a momma-to-be needs to feel like her pregnancy is miraculous, special and sacred, that the things she’s experiencing are unique only to her. Because they are.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Top Camera's

Here are the top camera's in the 3 consumer catagories.
Based on Price, ease of use, quality of camera and performance.

Sub compacts
1. Canon sd870is
2. canon sd1100is
3. ricoh r10
4. samsung l210
5. panasonic fx35
6. olympus stylus 1020
7. nikon s210

1. Canon a590
2. panasonic tz5
3. panasonic tz4
4. nikon coolpix p60
5. canon a470

1. sony dsc h50
2. canon powershot sx10
3. casio ex fh20
4. fuji finpix 5200hd
5. olympus sp570uz
6. panasonic dmc fz28

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sony A900

Sony has come out with it's new full frame camera with 24.9 megapixels.
Look at 2 reviews by sources I feel are very good at camera reviews. Check these out if you want a really sweet new megacamera, with built in anti shake technology.

digital photography review.

Imagining resources.