Friday, April 04, 2008

Quick tips to improve your photos

Additional information is located on the All PJ-related posts section of this blog. Underlined topics are linked to previous posts with detailed information about the subject.

Basics:
Read equipment manuals three times.
Have the right equipment for the job.
Know the difference between nouns and verbs.
Pre-consider potential visual problems and solutions.

Photo basics:
Fill the frame.
Have sharp focus.
Get the right exposure.
Time the images.

Fill the frame:
Get close.
Use long lens.
Crop in camera.
Get wide.
Back away when necessary.

Focus:
Stabilize the camera.
Focus on lead eye.
Adjust plane of focus / angle.
Use depth of field.
Adjust focal length for available light.
When focusing manually, use one finger.
Zone focus.

Exposure:
Zone V.
Hand meter the area.
Use alternative meter techniques: Sunny 16, palm, grass.
Understand the dynamic range.

Timing:
Have patience.
Look for repeated action patterns.
Anticipate the action.
Shoot at apex.
Shoot before collision - wind through reaction.
Get reflective shots (quiet moments)
Seek "timeless" images.
Time of day.

Composition:
Shoot horizontals and verticals.
Start with a clean background.
Have dark corners.
Place subject in background.
Use subject and foreground to cover unwanted elements.
Leave leading space.
Use Rule of Thirds/Fifths.
Build a strong skeletal structure.
Frame items within other items.
Avoid tangents.
Have clean edges.
Lead eyes with light and focus.
Layer the image.
Employ leading lines.
Employ repetition of pattern.
Block corners.
Juxtaposition (harmony / irony)

Where to crop:
Avoid cropping joints.
Contain subject within rectangle (Golden Ratio).
Avoid lights, reflections and voids.
Frame arcs and lines.

Before shooting:
Research stories - find those with emotional elements.
Verify location, access.
Double-check equipment.
Have business cards, pencil and notepad.
Refuse access contracts.

Upon arrival:
Arrive early. Stay late.
Shoot signs and rosters. Collect paperwork. Shoot name tags and numbers.
Shoot basic package: scene, normal, tight
Shoot story: lede, transitions, kicker, emotion.
Get cutline information (5W & H). Get sound if possible.


Selecting subjects:
Hunting techniques: shadows, oblique angle, concealment, pre-compose, pre-focus
Emotion
Activity
Color
Sound
Use attention span limitations.

Goals:
Tell the story.
Get main subjects.
Get emotion.
Shoot 100-frame minimum.
Use each lens.
Shoot each angle (left, right, high, low).
Shoot reflection / refraction.
Shoot silhouette / isolation.
Shoot blur.

Before leaving:
Understand the story.
Be able to tell the story in one frame, three frames, five frames, 20 frames.
Have all cutline information.
Have 100+ images.
Count equipment.

Advanced:
Find new word.
Make unique (rare) images: access, subject, news value, combination.
Multi layers
Multi meaning

Artificial light:
Use flash whenever it's helpful (no light, too slow).
Use flash from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. outdoors (fill light).
Get flash off the camera.
Understand what causes red-eye.
Try to keep flash angles from 45 to 90 degrees.
Diffuse light.
Color balance artificial light.
Learn to light large areas.
Use multiple lights to add depth.
Be ready to manually calculate exposure (guide number).
Understand inverse square law of light.
Speed techniques (stop action).
Light painting with mixed light and flash.
Increase depth of field with artificial light.

Know your rights (most is covered on this link)
It's best to be courteous to defuse confrontations.
Don't be belligerent.
The First Amendment provides the right for anyone to make photos.
Anyone can shoot in public places, streets and sidewalks.
Anyone can shoot where access is granted.
Property owners have the right to deny access.
Understand trespass law by state.
Generally, PJs can shoot until asked to stop.
Exceptions include military facilities and some areas within nuclear plants.
Model releases aren't required for editorial use (but pubs may still require).
Celebrities, politicians and emergency workers limited their right to privacy (injected themselves into spotlight).
Felony criminals have no right to privacy until in prison.
The right to privacy is seriously limited in public places.
The exception to this is medical facilities (which include ambulances in some states).
Business security isn't sufficient to prohibit photography.
Trade secrets aren't in public view. Trade dress doesn't apply to photojournalism.
Police may limit access, but can't prohibit photography (prior restraint).
You aren't required to explain the purpose of your photography.
Coercion and harassment by private security is a criminal offense in all states.
Private parties have limited rights to detain and could face criminal and civil charges.
Without a court order, private parties can't confiscate film.
Ask what law was specifically violated.
Ask for this person's name, and who they represent.
Report rights violations to police. Call before the offender does.

Enough for now,

3 comments:

Jim Hoerricks said...

Outstanding contribution. Well thought through. Thanks for re-posting the quick tips.

Jim Hoerricks
Author - Forensic Photoshop

Alysa Salen said...

these tips are really useful. I am about to start my job as a photojournalist in a newspaper here in the Philippines and I really need these:) Thank you for posting!

Mark M. Hancock said...

Hi Alysa,
Good luck and happy shooting! :-)