Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Break and Some Photography Tips

Hey all! I hope you didn't miss me too much :-) My kids' spring break overlaps with the holiday of Passover so I've been spending most of my time with them and not too much at the computer. We went bike riding at a park, a bounce place and spent a day at the local aquarium. Needless to say, we all had a blast and I got to practice some photography skills. Admittedly, taking pictures of moving fish in a dark space through glass is quite the challenge! This is because in order to take photos of moving things, you need to set a fast shutter speed but also keep the aperture as open as possible to let in more light, which in turn narrows the area of focus. You'd also never want to use a flash when taking photos (especially when taking through glass).

Below are some pictures of tropical fish, cat fish and a school of fish. The tropical ones are a bit out of focus but I think the color came out pretty accurate.

Here is a bunch of turtles. These are a little easier to photograph because they move much more slooowly, but the underwater ones are still a challenge.

My kids (center and right) had a great time learning from the staff about turtle shells, snake skins, and much more.

I hope you don't get too grossed out by the next photo - three bats hanging from the rafters. That middle one kept opening and closing his wing as if he were waving to us. The kids were in stitches!!

The highlight of the day was watching the dolphin show. I know there might be some of you who feel this is animal cruelty, but the animals are well taken care of and they use this show to teach the audience about water on planet earth and how we need to take care of it, not litter, recycle, etc.. It's amazing to see how beautiful and powerful these animals are.

Now for a quick tutorial on photographing water falls/fountains, but these tips can be applied to really any moving thing. For simplicity, I had my camera set to shutter speed priority. This means that the camera automatically sets the aperture and ISO.

I just chose any random speed to start with and moved the dial over a few notches each time. You can see how as the shutter speed slows down, the water looks like it's gushing faster and faster. I think the last photo is so much more dynamic and eye-catching than the others.

Here's another example of that same technique. As the shutter speed slows down, the individual drops of water blend together to show a steady stream of water. Keep in mind, that you'd need a tripod or someplace steady to rest your hands when you keep the shutter open this long.

One caveat that is more obvious in this example is that as you slow the shutter speed down, light is allowed to enter the camera for a longer time and could wash out some of your background. Compare the water in the bottom of the fountain in each photo to see what I mean. To compensate for that, you'd want to close the aperture a bit or lower the ISO.

Just to clarify, I am by no means an expert or professional photographer. These are just some tips that I've learned from practice and yes, reading my camera's manual! If you have any questions or if I said something wrong, please let me know!

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  1. Great tips... I am getting ready to buy a new camera and I bookmarked these tips... thanks!!

    P.s.... I have 2 great giveaways happening... Target Privet House & ViVo Candle Set...

  2. Thanks for the tips, you make it much easier to understand than reading a manual.

    1. No problem! I'm happy to help :-)