Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Photo Frustration



Summer is killing me. I haven’t had a decent opportunity to make any photographs since I got home. And seeing as I’m staying inside until the grass is dry enough to cut, I thought I’d give a free photo lesson and perhaps ease my frustration.

I know that most people don’t want to bother learning about their cameras. But it frustrates me to no end to see people trying to photograph things indoors without a clue about how to do it. Here are a couple of things that might help you to get better vacation pictures.

I was in the American Museum of Natural History. Most of the exhibits are behind glass. It seems as if everyone that wanted to take a picture of an exhibit had to get right dead-center in front of the exhibit, square up and take a picture. Congratulations, you now have a picture of your flash reflecting off the glass.

Here’s the fancy explanation: The angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection. If you point a flash straight at a piece of glass it will reflect straight back at your camera.


© Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Here’s the simple way to think about it. Grab a flashlight and go stand right in front of your bathroom mirror (or any mirror). Hold the flashlight at eye (the lens) level and shine the light (the “flash”) straight at the mirror. It will bounce right back into your eyes and blind you -- just like a flash does to a lens. Now, step to the side and try it again. The light from the flashlight bounces off the mirror to someplace other than in your eye doesn’t it?


© Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Notice that the first picture is slightly off to the side but it wasn’t enough to prevent the flash reflection. I couldn’t move any further left, so I went further right. No reflection.

Now, for those that can take 2 minutes to read their camera manual and learn how to turn off their flash (or for those that use their phone as a camera), you can take even better pictures if you’ll just learn to brace your camera against any solid object to take a picture. A door frame, a window sill, a table, anything. Without a flash, the shutter stays open longer to allow more light in and any movement will make your picture blurry. I don’t care how steady your hands are, they aren’t steady enough in anything darker than sunshine. Set the camera against the wall/post/frame/whatever, hold it as steady as you can and take the picture. It might take some practice. You might be pleased with the results.


© Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)
Braced on the display’s window frame

Don Brown
August 3, 2010

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