Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How I Photograph Children and Pets

Hello my fellow photo enthusiasts!

I am still going strong on my switch to Manual mode. Feel free to read my previous post about it!

This week I've decided to share with y'all how I shoot my nieces/nephew, and how I get great photos of pets.

Let me start by saying that if you want to photograph children indoors in low light, GOOD LUCK. Just remember that you can raise your ISO up to about 1600 without a considerable amount of grain. Your photos will be grainy at 3200 ISO for sure. When it comes to shooting kids, I prefer faster shutter speed. If that means my photos will be grainy, so be it. I want to be able to capture them as they are moving.

All photos are shot with the Nikon D3200 DSLR, Nikkor 18-55mm VR lens, and the Nikkor 50mm/1.8G lens.

Here are some photos of my nieces Allie and Hadley on Easter Sunday:

 These photos were shot near a window, so that was a huge help. I was still shooting in Shutter priority at this point, and still with my 18-55mm VR Kit lens.
 Aren't Hadley's eyes gorgeous? She was such a trooper that day.

 All we had to do was ask Allie to say "Cheeeeeeese!" and she gave us the cutest grin ever!
 You can notice some grain in this photo, but Allie's eyes are still sharp.

 I tried as hard as I could to keep the shutter speed at 1/125, so my ISO was set at between 400 and 800.

 And with a quick wardrobe change, Allie is out in the yard running. I love outdoor photos so much!

 And finally, a smile from little miss Hadley:
In the photo above, I had a lot of help from the large window behind me. Natural daylight is a great resource and will allow for crisper photos.

Now for the pets. First, my 10-year-old cockapoo Lilly:
 The same rules apply for pets. Faster shutter speed will be your savior. Pets move just as quickly as kids, so keep snapping and you'll get a great shot like the one above.

The photo above is probably the most tack sharp photo I have of Lilly. This was taken on Day 1 of my switch to Manual. My kit lens only goes to f/3.5, so I kept it there and bumped the ISO up to between 400 and 800. Shutter speed was between 1/80 and 1/125. I am fairly pleased with this one :)

And here are some photos of my cousin Sara's Australian Shepherd, Lia:
 Isn't she beautiful?
 The photo above is another favorite of mine. Shot in Manual and with my 50mm 1.8G lens, I kept the Aperture around f/2.8, shutter speed around 1/500, and the ISO between 100 and 200.

And now for a few adorable shots of my new nephew, Aiden:

Isn't he a doll? The 50mm lens does not zoom, so I need to physically move closer to get the shot above. I am so pleased with how sharp they turned out.

In conclusion, if you are looking to take great pictures of your kids and pets, I recommend that you invest in a lens with a wider aperture, like the 50mm 1.8. If you only have your kit lens, make it work. Crank up the ISO indoors and speed up the shutter. Keep the ISO around 200 outdoors, shutter speed at least 1/125, and aperture between f/1.8 and f/3.5. As always, play around with the settings. I had set up my camera for some pictures, but it ended up being way overexposed. Finally, just keep snapping! Keep your camera on Continuous mode and click away. You'll be amazed at what photos you end up with:

Want to see more posts like this? Sound off in the comments!

xoxo, Ang

Monday, May 12, 2014

This week's challenge = making the switch to Manual mode!


This past week I had a revelation. I don't know how it happened, but it did. I realized that I have had my camera for 6 months now, and not once have I tried to shoot in Manual mode. Crazy, right? Well, I decided to click the wheel to "M" and keep it there for this week. I am bound and determined to learn to shoot Manual. Manual mode allows you to adjust the settings for the Exposure triangle (ISO, Aperture, and Shutter speed).
Sure, Auto mode is awesome, and you get great photos from it. However, you are NOT taking full advantage of what your camera can do! Being in Auto mode means you are crossing your fingers hoping it will turn out. In order to take good pictures, especially in low light, you HAVE to at least give Manual mode a try! I recommend starting out in Shutter priority mode. This will allow you to control the shutter speed, aka how clearly you want a moving object to show up. The camera will still auto-adjust the Aperture for you.
After you are comfortable with Shutter priority, make the switch to Aperture priority. This is also known as Depth of Field, aka how much of the image you want in focus.

To help make more sense of this, here is a cheat sheet I found on Pinterest:

This is pure genius because it gives you the Manual settings for each scenario. Play around with just Aperture or just Shutter priority modes first. While in each mode, play around with the ISO settings. Just be warned that higher ISO means more grain and fuzziness in your images.
Your camera also has a meter on the screen that can range from -2 to +2, and it adjusts as you change your settings. The ideal goal is to get the meter at exactly 0. This meter is located just under your shutter speed and aperture numbers on the live view screen:
Live view on Canon

Live view on Nikon

This can be the most frustrating part about shooting in Manual mode. It will constantly teeter from one side to the other, so just play around and see what happens when the meter is not at 0. I usually meter off of the sun (meaning I point the camera at the sun and adjust my settings until the meter is exactly at zero). This way, I can't have a photo that is underexposed.

It definitely was a challenge switching to Manual, but now I am having a blast taking pictures of everything!

Here is a photo from my husband's college graduation:

For this photo, my settings were:
ISO 400
Aperture f/3.5
Shutter speed was between 1/125 and 1/200

Let me preface by saying that he was sick and had burning, watery eyes. I decided to shoot him in the shade for that very reason. DO NOT BE AFRAID OF SHADE! It can actually be a lifesaver for photos. I mean, do you actually want a picture of your subject squinting and crying? Yea, didn't think so.

And here are a couple photos of some tulips that have bloomed this week:

 And I captured my first bug photo! Go me!

Aren't they gorgeous? The settings for these photos were:
ISO 200
Aperture was between f/3.5 and f/5
Shutter speed was between 1/125 and 1/200

I cannot get enough photos of flowers. Especially when they open up so wide like that.

My advice to you? Look at your camera's click wheel, and set it to Manual. It will get frustrating! I had to practice by taking numerous photos of a shoe. It will get better. I learned it in a week and I will NEVER go back to Auto!

Have a suggestion for a blog post? Sound off in the comments!

Follow me on Instagram @angelamcollins

Go check out my beauty blog, Angela Collins Beauty

xoxo, Ang

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How I Achieve Great Sports Photos

Hello my fellow shutterbugs!

Today I decided to give you some insight as to how I shoot sports. My husband is a JV girls tennis coach and I have had the pleasure of shooting two of their matches this spring. Unfortunately, a good chunk of their tennis matches were cancelled due to rain (Michigan, get with the program!). The two matches I shot were around 5:00 pm, which is awesome lighting, since the sun is in just the right spot.

Nikon D3200 w/ 55-200mm lens
ISO: 100
Aperture: f/3.5-f/5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/1000

So as you can see, the settings I use for sports work fairly well for me. The shutter speed is fast enough that I can freeze the girls as they move, while the aperture allows for the background to be blurry and the person to be tack sharp.

Of course, tennis isn't all serious all the time:

The girls are so much fun to shoot and I had a blast. Sports photography is not something to spend hours and hours thinking about. If you have a fast enough shutter speed and your exposure is on point, you'll get great pictures. I wouldn't mess around too much with ISO, however, because then you'll wind up with unnecessary grain in the photo. Keep it at no more than 200 and you'll get great results.

I will be posting soon about my recent decision to only shoot in Manual mode for a week, as well as some pictures from my husband's upcoming college graduation :)

xoxo, Ang