Monday, August 8, 2011

Using Mirrors

The shot above was my first realization that I could be in my own shots. True, many of us took at least one picture of our feet early in our photo journeys or perhaps a shot into the mirror but everyone does that. It's a virtual rite of passage. But in the shot above, I incorporated myself into the story of the moment in a less direct way than photographing my feet or myself in the bathroom mirror.

This post will look at creative ways to use mirrors and even how to incorporate ourselves into our images. I find both concepts interesting but as with any other technique, moderation is key. I use techniques such as this sparingly and for some reason (perhaps because I see way too much reliance on gimmicks these days), feel the need to say so.

This next shot is a variation in the same living room as the previous image. This is the same couch and the same mirror in the same living room that I sat on and slept on and jumped on since I was a tyke. It has meaning to me. I didn't want to shoot it the way I had before so I chose to frame vertically. I went for symmetry, so that the objects framing my youngest son would be less literal and more abstract shapes. I also was careful to include my wife in the reflection which provides another layer of content.

In this next shot, my cousin is reading to my two boys. Again, same couch, same mirror, etc. I think it's a good illustration of how varied you can make your compositions even with almost all of the same framing elements. I chose to include myself as part of the picture as well.

There is a component of fun in including yourself in shots. My wife decided to take a photo of me and I quickly composed this and fired back. There's a second shot which included my wife's camera flash burst but it seemed too contrived to me. Creative and simple can be adjectives which describe the same shot. It's okay to think simply if you have a handle on the elements of good composition, content and timing. Don't be fooled into the lure of "complex is better."

This shot is an example of finding a composition and camping on it. I pre-composed, pre-focused, and waited for my grandmother to step out of the guest room. Then, it was simply a matter of timing. Knowing angles helps as well.

I believe this shot might have appeared on an early post of mine. My apologies but it's one of my favorite mirror shots.

As always, I hope this is helpful and I hope it finds its way into your photo toolbox, like good spices...used sparingly.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Effectively Using Deliberate Motion Blur

Let's face it, we are at times limited by creating art within a two dimensional medium. Sometimes photos can feel a bit 'lifeless', especially when what we photographed was moving. I've already discussed the technique of panning, which is a tremendous way to add life to your photos (read that tutorial here:

But conditions do not always warrant a full pan. Sometimes we just want to show that things were moving when we captured the scene. Doing so is really rather simple. It just requires you to really focus on technique.

First, slow your shutter down to somewhere near 1/25th of a second. Your shutter speed will vary depending on how much movement you want to show. I personally like when the majority of the scene is sharp and just a small part of the photo has motion blur on it. Once you've selected your desired shutter speed, be sure to think about holding still when you press the shutter. Remember, this shutter speed is most likely slower than you normally shoot. So just be aware.

Below are some examples where I've utilized deliberate motion blur:

My son was playing the Wii and I really liked how his hands were moving. So I selected 1/30th for my shutter speed and waited for him to "hit the ball".

Same concept below. This was shortly after Santa brought he Wii.

Later that same night :)

After writing this post, I realize that I need to do this more!

Good luck! Keep documenting!