Liveblog: BarCampCHS5 Session 4 – Pro Photography Techniques with Amateur Equipment

Presenter: Joseph Nienstedt @joel8x (sp)

We need to know how to take better pics with our cell phone cameras.

Principles of Photography
Vision – what’s the subject?  the story you’re trying to tell?
Composition – what are you including in the picture?  How are you going to isolate image & tell the story?
Light

You can control those things with little to no money

Live Demo: Still Life / Product Shoot
What he did: build a shadow box with paper and light it.  He taped a piece of paper to the table and to his raised laptop lid.  He then taped a piece of paper together to make a tube.  Then he put a TARDIS and 11th Doctor minifig in it.  You fire light into the sides to light the background.  If you have a little more money, you can build a better one.

Take multiple shots!

Now that you have a while bg, throw it into Snapseed (iOS and Android app).  Pixlr Express is the other package he uses on the phone.  Snapseed is nondestructive (except for cropping)

In Snapseed, you can crop the edges out, then you can lose a yellow and blue light with Selective Adjust.  You can select the yellow area and kill the yellow and blues with Saturation.

Adjust brightness, contrast, shadows, etc.  And by the Sash of Rassilon, you crappy phone picture looks amazing.

(The pic is forthcoming from Twitter.)

Dramatic Portraiture
Composition & lighting are the biggest concerns here.
Shot 1: He’s aiming side lights at the background and the back of subject’s head.  A third light is firing down onto a piece of paper that’s then reflecting the light on the subject’s face.

Now, throw this into Snapseed.  Composition wise, think in terms of thirds.  If you’re not sure where to put the point of interest, visualize a hash mark over the image & place the item where the lines intersect.

Shadows, warmth, sharpness.  Center focus gives you a faux depth of field look.  He’s not a big fan of faking major effects too much because it detracts from the image.

Depending on the use of the portrait, you can chop off the top of the head.  If you’re shooting marketing stuff for real estate agents, no, keep the top of their head.  If you’re doing something personal, the expression on their face is way more important than getting the top of their head.

Shot 1: light one sweeping the background from upper right to lower left.  Front light coming down from left behind a card with window blind shaped cutouts to get that pattern of light on the subject.  She has a sad look on her face. (Benedict Cumberbatch just announced he’s marrying Britney Spears.  John Green isn’t writing any more books.  Sadface!!)

Throw that on Pixlr Express+ (app) or pixlr.com – the most commonly used stuff in photoshop for free in Chrome browser or on Chromebook.

Darken, add a starburst like pattern, add a vignette or two. make it black & white.  Wow, very dramatic!  It saves copies and doesn’t alter original, either.

Questions
Snapseed, Pixlr Express+, pixlr.com

“Want to take better photos?  Stand in front of more interesting stuff.”

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