Wednesday, 25 January 2012

How to take better photographs of your child - Composition and Focus

For those of you who missed the first part of my "How to take better photographs of your child"; the first part is here

Today I'm going to tackle the problem of composition! The art of seeing the photo before you take it.

Move yourself and subject
if possible to remove objects
from the background!
Composition - 
What are you photographing? Yes yes your child, but where is your child? In the front room? In the bathroom? In front of a pile of ironing?! A lovely photograph of a child can sometimes be overshadowed by objects in the background (that bright pink outfit from Aunty Rita's birthday), so a little thought about what professionals call 'composition' can go along way.

In the photo to the left - If I had asked Granny and Baby to turn 10 degrees to the right, I could have avoided having the edge of the framed photo in the background. This solid right angled frame currently draws the eye away from the subjects.

Tip 1 - Try looking at different angles to take the photo from, step to the right and left, crouch down or lift the camera high for a shot that 'cleans' up the background.

See the bucket in the
background? If I'd left
this photo in colour
it's ALL you'd see
Tip 2 - Taken a lovely shot but the bright (orange Halloween bucket) object in the background is distracting? Turn your shot black and white to remove the distracting colour

Rule of thirds or Noughts&Crosses
So you're background is as clear as it's going to be (I'll discuss ways of blurring out your background in a later post), your child is looking all cute and adorable... you press the shutter button and you have your photograph but it's still not right?

DangerBaby takes up
the right of this grid
and you hardly notice the
mess in the background!
This may be because your child is a small person in the corner of your photograph. Imagine a noughts and crosses grid... now think of this grid being drawn on your photo. Where's your child? Bottom right corner? Bottom centre corner? So you have 8 grid places where your child doesn't appear? Seems like a waste of space?! You can improve this by cropping your photo using one of the many photo applications available but you lose some of the detail of the photo (it'll look slightly fuzzy).

On your iPhone you have an 'Options' button (top centre) when you first power up the camera - click it and choose Grid ON and click done. This provides you the noughts and crosses gird, it'll help guide you in framing your shot.

Canon don't provide this kind of grid in their software, you could buy an eyepiece with the grid on it and attach it to your camera... but I don't think you'll need it for long. Just take lots of practice photos!

Now that you have this grid, try to fill at least 3 of the noughts and crosses squares with your subject, they don't always have to be in the centre, some shots where the subject is to the right or left can be just as lovely.

Kids move - take several
shots to try and capture
one not so blurry
Kids move, mine is frequently called the blonde blur as many people who have tried to photograph her just have a blonde blur in the background. It's something that comes with the territory when photographing kids. This is where the Canon 400D is streets ahead of the iPhone.

Both cameras come with an autofocus, on the iPhone you can concentrate the camera settings on your subject by gently pressing the white square showing the camera what you are trying to take a photo of, on the Canon in full automode you half press the shutter button and it sets itself up for the shot - including auto focus.

However, when actually taking the photo - the speed and lens of the Canon will provide a superior shot. With the iPhone it takes milliseconds (which is YEARS in camera time) to take the photo and you are more likely to have the blur.

Tip 3 - Take three photos not one. Pick the least blurred!

BEWARE - AutoFocus is not always your friend. On the Canon in full AutoMode it will try to focus on the objects nearest the camera.

BEWARE - Most digital cameras have a 'Sports' mode, while this makes the speed of taking the photo quicker - you lose light and unless you our outside in bright daylight your photo will be darker!

Camera focused on the tree
so DangerBaby is slightly
out of focus

Next week I'll tackle the BIG issue - Lighting, then we'll try actually taking some photos!

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