This year, Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah fall on the same date. What a rare opportunity to remember these wonderful holidays by capturing beautiful family photos!
Photography is all about light and composition. While composition is in the eye of the photographer, finding or creating beautiful light for your subject can be more challenging.
Here are 10 easy tips and tricks to help you find better light and create beautiful pictures from your point-and-shoot or Digital SLR camera.
1. If you have a choice, shoot outdoors during cloudy days. Seattle’s cloud cover eliminates harsh shadows and casts a complimentary light on people. (And who doesn’t want to look good?)
2. For better composition, don’t use zoom. Use your feet. Get in close. Fill the frame or find an interesting angle.
3. Move around to avoid distracting backgrounds. Don’t let telephone poles protrude from behind people’s heads or tree limbs from their ears.
4. During daylight, take indoor photos of people by using soft window light. Have them stand slightly to one side so faces can be illuminated by the light that comes in from the window. This light will be much more flattering than a harsh flash.
5. Take a few minutes prior to your photo shoot to familiarize yourself with the versatility of your camera’s flash and exposure features. Then, if the image appears too dark or too light, adjust the exposure compensation to let more or less light in.
6. If it’s sunny outside, find a shady spot to photograph people. If you can’t find shade, face your subject so the sunlight is behind them or to their side. This will produce a nice “rim” light around their head and body. If you take their picture without a flash, your subject may appear dark. This is one of the few times I recommend using your built-in flash. Lower the flash output to illuminate your subject.
7. When photographing Hanukkah candles, try putting a piece of wire mesh (window screen) in front of the lens with the flash turned off. This produces a luminescent “star” effect that could qualify you for an extra helping of latkes! (Note: In low light you many need a tripod to hold the camera steady).
8. If your indoor pictures look “orange,” that means the camera’s white balance is off. You can correct that orange cast by setting your camera’s white balance to tungsten (described in your owner’s manual). Just don’t forget to set it back to AWB (automatic white balance) when you’re done!
9. For indoor shots, avoid using the camera’s built-in flash on people. Instead, bring in more lamp lights. Point them toward the ceiling to bounce light around the room and to reduce harsh shadows.
10. If you’re still not getting the quality photos you want, invest in an auxiliary flash. Pull out the flash’s catchlight panel and point the flash toward the ceiling. The catchlight panel will bounce a soft flash toward your subject and will soften any harsh shadows.
Enjoy your photography endeavors. You’ll create lasting memories. Chag urim sameach — happy holidays!