Jan Hudson’s Photography Tips – #3.

Join professional photographer Jan Hudson every Friday here on the Prescription Bluegrass Blog for some tips and tricks on how to get some great do-it-yourself photos of your band for your website, social media posts, press kits and so forth.  The comment section below is open so if you have questions, post them there and Jan will either answer them in the comment section or in a future post if the subject depth warrants more than a quick response.

Jan Hudson w BanjoWelcome back! Good news, this week's class will be a piece of cake compared to last weeks technical craziness. I've always believed that the best way to learn something was to do it...whether the right way or the wrong way, you learn much more doing than by reading.

So, get your camera out out of the case and get yourself into a routine that you should do each and every time that you shoot pictures. Ready?

1. Clean your lens. Sounds easy, but let's do it right. I like to use lens cleaner and lens tissue. These lenses are expensive, so let's treat them with a little loving care. Pull out a sheet of lens tissue and tear it in half. Roll it as you would a cigarette. Image634951468874288518On the torn end, squeeze some lens fluid and take the tissue and gently wipe the lens to loosen any dirt that might be on the surface.

After you do this, take a clean piece of tissue and wipe off the excess cleaner and polish it dry. Piece of cake. If you prefer to use the lens cleaning cloth, simply use your breath to cause the lens to fog and gently clean the lens.

Never pour lens cleaner directly on the lens because it could seep into the inside elements and ruin your lens. Never clean a lens without loosening the dirt with either lens cleaner or your breath. If you don't loosen the dirt on the surface of the lens, it'll be very similar to using a piece of sandpaper to clean your lens and the scratches will ruin it.

(Might I take this moment to suggest that you buy a UV filter for your lens? It will protect your lens from scratches and damage.) You certainly don't have to clean your lens every time you use it, but you should at least look at the lens to see if it needs it before you start shooting. Fingerprints and dirt will diminish the quality of your photos and drive your autofocus sensors bananas.

2. Put a newly charged battery in the camera. Most batteries last for several hundred images, but remember, after each use, you need to recharge them so they will be ready for the next photo shoot. It's a good idea to have more than one battery in your camera bag. There's nothing worse than being in the middle of a shoot and your battery dies. Okay, there is something worse...if your battery goes dead when you are shooting, you can very well lose all of the images on your memory card and they cannot be recovered. Memory cards do not like it when the battery goes dead, so be careful. Always keep an eye on the battery charge level and when you see the flashing battery icon, change the battery right away. Don't wait until it's dead.

3. Put the memory card in the camera. Again, make sure that you have at least a couple of memory cards. If you're anything like me, you can plow through 400 images without even thinking about it. I've been known to shoot 500 shots of waves in the ocean, so one card just won't cut it. Choose the size that fits your shooting style and remember to always, ALWAYS download your images after each shoot and back them up! Memory cards don't like to have several different sessions on them, so remember to back-up the session on the computer, burn a back up disk, and format the card so you have a clean slate to begin the next session with.

If you aren't shooting tons of images, a service such as Carbonite is a wonderful and inexpensive way to back up your photos off-site, but you should still get in the habit of making disks of your images and keeping a file of these disks. I have a distinct fear that the images taken in the last five years will not be saved for the next generation to view. If you lose your camera, if your computer crashes, if you have a fire, or anything happens to your hard drive, do you have your images saved? Many of you don't. Make that a new habit. (My preaching is done now...lol).

4. Time to get a light reading. It's really important to get the best light reading possible and to do that, you need to do a couple of important tricks. First of all, when you point your camera at the subject, always tilt the lens downward just a little bit. If you are shooting the photos outside, this will take out some of the unnecessary light from the sky that will throw off the light meter and give you muddy looking (underexposed) shots. If you are using window light, outdoor light, or even flash, don't forget to get in close, so that the meter is reading the light that is on the face and not trying to average the light that is in the background. If you are taking a photo of a person's face, why worry about the background light...so move in close for the best light reading.

Turn on the camera and let's shoot in the automatic mode this week. In the auto mode, the computer in the camera measures the light that is reflected from the subject and averages the exposure and sets the correct lens opening and shutter speed for you.

Whether you are using a point and shoot or a fancier camera, there are things that you want to remember when you are shooting:

1. Keep it simple. Your subject is the most important thing in the picture, so don't have too many props or things in the background that will take away from the importance of the subject.

Image6349514899023412542. Get in close. I know it feels funny to walk up to your subject, but it makes for a better picture.

3. Have fun and smile and your group will relax and smile, too.

4. Check lighting. If it's a sunny day, try to find a shady place to take the pictures. If you can't, remember to keep the sun to the left or right of the band. If the sun is their faces, they'll squint. If it's behind them, you'll get camera flare. Use your flash to kill any shadows and you should be just fine.

5.  Apparel. Try to get your band members to wear clothing that isn't too busy or doesn't go together. They don't have to match, but it's always best to stay simple...such as all wearing jeans. You don't want to suppress their personalities, but keeping simple helps the audience see the person and not get lost in the outfits.

Next week, we'll work on posing your group. I'll try to have some images for you to look at as examples.



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