Metering: The process of taking a light reading from a given area to determine what your camera settings should be for proper exposure of that area.
I remember my "Ah Ha!" moment very distinctly. It hit me one sunny afternoon while I was sitting on my couch, doing nothing in particular. I was several months into taking photography seriously and had spent countless hours pouring over every tutorial I could find. Suddenly everything I had been reading came crashing together in my mind, and from it a VERY useful piece of information floated to the top.
Getting my dial to center on my meter did NOT equal perfect exposure. Say What?!
I'm just going to say it. Overhead mid-day sunlight - not the friend of the momtographer. With the exception perhaps of the middle of the night, if you can pick any other light in which to take portraits, pick it. But that's the thing about Momtography - our job is to document our kiddos lives... and sometimes we can't help the light. So our job is to take the big lemon in the sky and make photographic lemonade.
So why is it such a challenge? Well, think about the light of the midday sun - it streams down directly and harshly from above. If you could even see their eyes under those squinty eyelids, they would be made dark by the shadows cast by their brow bones. And wow, the contrast just isn't' pretty… is that a nose or a sundial?
Sunflare. It's a special kind of backlighting that happens when you put your subject inbetween the sun and your camera. It usually happens in the late afternoon (except for you odd early birds among us!), and the results range from colors that look like the lemonade of late summer, to wild lens flare, to silhouetted backlight.
The general idea is to face your camera west at sunset, and put your subject somewhere between you and the sun.
Keep the sun JUST slightly out of the frame, and here's what you get.
There are few lighting situations that I love more than the backlight blowout.
The trick is to place your kiddo with their back facing a very bright light source (such as a bright window, balcony, or the very edge of deep shade), and have a source of reflection in front of them to bounce some of the light spilling from behind them back onto their face. My favorite is white carpet, but a white blanket, sheet, or even a reflector does the job!
Composition- One simple word that means so much! There are so many elements to composition, but in it's simplest form it's what you leave in or take out of your frame in order to tell the story. And just like the books at your local library, the stories can range from very, very, simple, to complex novels.
A couple weeks back we talked about the rule of thirds. The idea that you want to balance your image across the frame in thirds, avoiding the center for your main focal points. And yes, there are exceptions to this rule. Like all good rules that are made to be broken, but for now let's just stick to following, the rules. :)
This week, I'd like to introduce another simple but important composition concept, leading lines. Leading lines serve the same purpose as the rule of thirds, to tell your eye where to go when looking at the photograph. Think about pathways, bridges, walls, things that create direction in your photograph. What direction do you think they should lead, have you ever even thought about it? The answer is they should lead to your subject. So let's see what that looks like.
See how the lines that stair way creates lead you right to Chloë's little face? Now what do you think would have happened if she had been positioned in the right third of the photograph?
Your aperture. It's soooo important. It's the ring inside of your camera that narrows and widens to determine how much light you let inside of your lens to wait at the shutter - so it's the first element of the exposure triangle. And it gives you fabulous creative control over your images IF you understand a little thing called "depth of field" and how it relates to your aperture setting.
Depth of field is the amount of your photograph that will be in focus. How narrow or wide that area of focus is will be determined by two factors. 1) The aperture setting. 2) The distance between you and the point of focus
Depth of field. It's that crazy thing that happens when your camera selects certain things to be in focus and other things out of focus. It's a beautiful storytelling tool when you know how to use it. And when you know how to make it work for you, it can make your portraits positively POP!
So this weekend, make sure you study up on your camera's aperture setting. It's the part of your lens that determines how much light you allow in to wait at the shutter. And it's also what determines the depth of field in your pictures.