Tag Archives: Story

Warning: you could delete your best image…

• The Chase Is On •

• The Chase Is On •
Click image to view large
• The Chase Is On by Netkonnexion on FlickrExternal link - opens new tab/page

Watch out for great images you missed.

It’s easy to do. People will tell you to delete your no-go images in-camera. But you will miss essential details that will fool you. Your best images can be lost that way.

Lack of detail

Your image in the camera screen does not show the whole story. The picture is resized to fit the camera screen. During resizing the picture loses a lot of detail. The camera preserves only the essentials for quick checks.

Consider the panning shot above which looked very poor on the camera screen. Lack of detail merged the heads into the background. Blur masked the image. Little or no detail was visible throughout. On my camera this shot was a no-hoper. Fortunately, experience tells me I need to keep shots to view them in full detail. Good thing I kept this shot. It scored high enough for a placement in a competition.

Two lessons…

Inexperience can mislead photographers. The back-screen on the the camera is no guide to a successful picture.

The blurring in this shot shows great movement. The important parts, the faces and heads, remain sharp. You could not see that clearly enough in-camera. The expression on the lead runner shows perfectly the emotion and duress of the getaway. His face tells a great story – the break-away with an anxious back glance. The sharpness and story did not show on the camera screen. Had I deleted in-camera a promising shot would have been lost.

More after this…

Second, the screen display on the camera lost an essential detail. The main light was coming in from the side away from me. The heads had a wonderful light-rim around them. It differentiated them from the background. That did not show on camera. The aesthetics, story and sharpness are greatly improved by this detail.

The moral

It is easy to miss important details on the camera screen. Little things that make the picture so detailed are often lost. If you delete on-camera before seeing images in full detail on your computer you could deprive yourself of great images.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
See also: Profile on Google+.

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Events – what do you photograph?

Run for the water

• Run for the water •
Participants in a charity New Year swim race to the sea
Click image to view large
Run for the water By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

Every event has a theme.

Nevertheless there are lots of reasons for photographing an event. Don’t just snap away. A reason for taking photographs gives you a perspective for your shots. You can tell a story with a main idea.

Have a focus for your shots

If you have a specific reason to capture something it gives you a reason to look at it in a particular way. If your idea is to capture the fun, you are looking for smiles and enjoyment. If you are looking for love, say at a wedding, then your eye will pick out the looks, the coyness and the adoring glances. The way you look at an event is the way the capture the action.

If you have a lot of photos to take, with one reason to take them you have a storyline. The only way to create a clear story is to crystallise it around a single idea. If your pictures have a mixed or unclear idea overall then the story will be mixed and unclear too.


The moral is, despite the theme of the event, you are the person creating the story. It is the way you tell the story that is important. So make sure you know what you are trying to say about the event. Then pursue the pictures that depict the story you want to tell.

The picture story here…

The pictures on this page were taken today at a fun-based charity event. Everyone gets dressed up in fancy dress and goes for a sponsored swim on New Years Day. While it is about raising money for charity, the event is about fun. I tried to show the fun and the smiles in the short photo-story.


By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
See also: Profile on Google+.

How to tell a story with your picture

Photo storytelling :: Spoken With Humour My Lady

“Spoken with humour my Lady”
Photo storytelling with your picture will capture the imagination of your viewer and draw them into the image.

What is photo storytelling?

Help your viewer to be involved in your picture. Get them thinking. Then they will look hard at it. So, tell a story with it. To get viewers thinking draw out the threads of a story with a time line. Aim to help them see how the story came about. Show clues for what might happen next. Photo storytelling is about making your image clear on what is happening.

The best photo story-tellers are photo-journalists. They capture an event or activity. They try to show the progress of a story. Things you see in the shot tell you what’s happened, what is happening now, and what is possible. In short, it is a time-line.

Photo storytelling :: Keep it simple

Don’t obscure the story. The more interesting you can make the shot, the more viewers will want to look at it. Your story should portray the fullness of events.

Try to make the shot as simple as possible. If there is too much going on it distracts the viewer. Too much clutter does the same. If you do distract the viewer it will confuse or obscure the story.

Have a plan

Ensure clarity in your story. Have a complete plan of what you want to convey. You should:

  • Know what you want to say.
  • Have a clear idea of the main subject.
  • Know the story line (as simple as possible).
  • Know how to express the storyline.
  • Know the composition you will use.
  • Be aware of light, mood, time.
  • Know what to exclude (de-clutter).
  • Know how you are going to work the scene.
  • Have technical settings worked out.
Behind the subject

It is easy to confuse the viewer with the background. Ensure it is consistent with the story. The little romantic exchange in my picture above fits with its background. If this were an urban scene the knights would be out of their expected context. That throws the story off.

How people and things relate to each other

As the story unfolds show the relations between people. That is juicy eye-candy for viewers. The relationship between people and things, in the scene helps too. Working with one photograph, your photo storytelling is going to have to show these links.

There are three relationships in the photo storytelling above. The horse is engaging with the viewer. It stares back at us. The knights are engaging in light-hearted flirting. The peasant is clearly amused by the whole scene. The story tells the viewer where the people are, but also about the feeling between them. Looks, and the direction of gaze, are important. Facial expressions speak volumes. The position of things and people show how they relate to each other.

You must be careful to pick up these traces of relationships. Without them you don’t have the sense of interaction. Then you don’t see photo storytelling in progress.

Time

Time in photo storytelling usually comes from action, expression or movement. In this picture the horse shows boredom. The knights show an on-going and flirtatious conversation. The peasant clearly enjoys the moment. These things show the story is not static. And, it has a future because the knights are clearly enjoying the exchange.

In another type of photo storytelling you might see strong movement. A race is a story. The action shows the progress of time. The race positions tell of the competition. The place where the race is sets the scene.

Clearly there are many ways to express progress through the story. The important thing is that you do actually make sure that it is obvious to the viewer.

The fresh, candid look

Clearly, if the story is staged and forced, the fresh look will be lost. Capture it as if it was unscripted. Captured on the spur of the moment makes it look fresh. Even better if it was a complete candid shot. Nothing beats an honest, true expression. The best scenes are spontaneous. The whole discipline of street photography is based on that concept. However, make sure that the elements of a story still hold true. It will look false if they are not.

If doing candid street shots your post-production work can help. In your editing look to find the shots with the elements above. Then crop or work your post processing to bring it out. Don’t try staging them through a plan. Urban scenes make poor acting scenes for photography.

Patience

Photo storytelling takes patience. So does trying to spot a story in progress. To shoot a scene like the one above takes a few moments. It may only involve a few quick few shots. But the right result may not happen the first time. Take your time and work on the elements needed for your Photo storytelling. As you get better at the things mentioned here you will bring out the story easier.

Photo storytelling :: In Post-production

A story is almost always completed in post-production. Often the composition has to be done quickly in order to capture the right moment. As a result you may need to think about the framing and the crop later. Also think about cloning out clutter and distractions. When Photo storytelling, that is especially true for candid shots.

Photo storytelling is helped by a title

If my image above was called “knights on horses”, there’d be less interest. The title sets the scene. It shows the viewer the link between the knights. A good human relationship or a juicy gossip-phrase gets attention. Photo storytelling is all about those human things. Bring them out in a title.

The actual story

Most important is the actual Photo storytelling itself. To get that right you have to check you have a story at all. That means finding the shot that expresses the story. That is an editorial task. Be ruthless when you try to tell a story with a picture. Show only the shots which actually tell one. Otherwise you will have a fudged concept. There is nothing worse.

Enjoy your Photo storytelling. It’s fun and a challenge. Your skill as a photographer and as an editor of your own work will improve.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Event photography – tips for getting it right

"The Guitarist". You need to make sure that all aspects of your event are covered.

“The Guitarist”.
Good event photography covers all aspects of the event.

Event photography is a responsibility.

It is an important commitment. There is pressure to get it right. However, it gives you an insight into understanding the needs of the viewer. You have to focus on showing the event in the best light.

At some point most photogs are asked to do some event photography. Family party, Church event, wedding, Christmas lunch, engagement… you name it. If you agree, make sure you know what you is expected of you and your camera. Previously, I looked at what you need to do before an event or special occasion. In this post I look at what to do to make your event photography effective.

Cover the story, include everyone

If you have prepared for the event, you should know what you are to shoot and how long you have to do it. Here are some things you can do while doing your event photography…

  1. Tell a story: A little forward thinking can help you to tell a story of the event. As you go through your shoot look for little activities, actions and happenings that will tell the story. You may pick out, say, ten pictures of the event that most people will recognise tell the story. Keep your eye open for the most important points of the event to capture for this purpose.
  2. Entertainment: Make sure you capture any performers. Preferably make images of them performing. If that is a challenge (lighting can be difficult), capture them in the break. If they are reluctant, get their email address and promise to send them some shots. Most performers love that. They always need photos for publicity.
  3. Food: Always capture pictures of the food. When people eat they usually have the best conversation and meet new people. That is one of the memorable parts of the event. Pictures of food are enduring if done well. Read up on food photography a bit to get some ideas. Find out what sort of food there is in advance. Then you’ll know what to expect. If the host(ess) or close family made the food then go into it in some detail. They will love the attention and you will get good feedback.
  4. Presents: It seems a simple thing but it will be important to the hosts. Make sure you get a few pictures of any present table or special gifts or awards. This is an important record for the hosts. It is also a reminder of the purpose of the event. It is worth asking the hosts if they want to arrange the presents. They often want to show some off some more than others. They may also want to arrange them so they can remember the gifts. Otherwise arrange them artistically yourself.
  5. “Formals”: Event photography often involves formal shots. A lot of amateur photographers hate them. But if you have done your sit-down planning with the organizers you will know what you have to do. You will find it is quickly over. In most family or small events they are usually quick anyway. Maybe just the speeches are needed or even just some formal shots of the birthday cake and the lucky recipient. Make sure you get a few shots that show the formality of the situation if necessary. More than anything make sure you get all the photographs the hosts require (close family, birthday girl/boy, dignitary etc.)
  6. Candids and poses: I love to do this. It’s great fun. Wander around the party/event having a little conversation with everyone. Make sure you introduce yourself. Say you are doing the photography for the event. Ask them if they want to pose or if you can just take candid shots of them. If you are allowed to take candids then remember to capture them later when they are chatting, smiling, enjoying. Taking candids at the table with the people sitting and enjoying conversation is great fun. You really capture people as they are in person – rather than who they want to be in a pose. Make sure you engage with everyone. For good event photography the hosts will want to get a good coverage of all the guests. If this is a public event (church event, sports event) its not so easy. So just do some general crowd shots so the flavour of the activities are encapsulated in your story.
  7. Posed sessions and groups: I usually seek out a place at events where I can use a nice background from the location. Sometimes for more certain results in my event photography I set up my own backdrop. Some people love to have group shots with their friends. Others like specially posed shots on their own. The hosts like these posed sessions too. They have something to send on to friends after the event.
  8. Crowd shots: If you are at an event with crowds they can be fun too. Actually crowds are not as chaotic as they look. Spend some time observing. You will see that crowds tend to have three conditions: observers, movers, and actors.
    • Observers watch the event in progress. You can capture them from the front to get faces. You can capture them from the back to use the event activity as a backdrop.
    • Movers are crowds in transit. They tend to move in streams. You can photograph them in ways that show the movement or direction of travel.
    • Actors This is when the group or crowd in question are a self sustaining and self entertaining group. These tend to be smaller groups in among the larger ones. Again, they provide interest for your event photography. They provide a focus in the crowd.
  9. Dance or action: If there is some sort of physical activity going on you have to capture it. Make sure you know what it is going to be in advance so you are prepared. Dance and other fast physical activity is difficult to capture in darkish conditions like party-type events. Remember – high ISO settings to freeze the action. Longer exposures to get motion blur. Both are great at events and both will show your range of skills at event photography. Artfully capturing dance shots takes time and practice. If you have a chance, try it before the event. You can capture sports or physical activity of other kinds more easily because they are often in brighter light. Any dance or action shots are not the reason you are there. Don’t worry if you don’t get the best shots of the evening from these. Work on capturing the atmosphere and the story of the event.
Make sure you shoot the presents. Event photography should include all the angles.

If you are covering all the angles make sure you shoot the presents. The hosts will thank you.

How many shots?

As a guideline, I would aim to take about three different pictures of everyone at a family event. Get maybe 30 to 50 shots of crowds and groups at a public event. It’s common to take several hundred shots over a two to three hour period when doing event photography. Depending on the activities you may take many more. You won’t use them all. The redundancy is there so you can at least provide a great representation of the event, its story, and one picture of all the participants.

Communicate, talk and chat when doing event photography

You will quickly overcome nervousness once you get talking to people. Event photography is about communication. Start introducing yourself straight away. As soon as people arrive get talking and clicking too. And, since you should be there before it starts, get shots of things like the food and other important items before the crowds get there. The most important aspect of doing event photography is to enjoy yourself and mix with others. Get stuck in as soon as you can.

Composition – Time…

Light is one of the critical features of our capture. Time is also essential. Our picture is the result of a time-line. It’s a creation of the moment chosen to take the shot. The capture distils the events from a line of moments before the button press. It tells the story.

Spring Sunset • Some images appeal to something deep in us. Time is a part of that.

• Spring Sunset •
Some images appeal to something deep in us. Time is a part of that.

Primal drives are one type of story

Sometimes a picture is not special by virtue of the moment. A deep orange sunset sparks something in our primal memory. The power of the wave pounding the shore is as enduring as the rock of ages. We recognise these ideas. We replay them regularly through the images of popular culture. They are special because they are timeless. They touch something deep in our psyche. We see the same timelessness in manifest terror or nightmares.

Happiness or horror, timelessness and the impact of the moment come from within. They are triggered by the photograph. We recognise the point of some photographs from within the depth of ourselves. Perhaps it’s an emotional response. Maybe it’s from something deeper. In this, time is not a story. It is the depth of ourselves.

Time tells a story

If there is no primal appeal there must be something else in the image that makes the point. Time is the critical factor. Time tells a story.

When we look at an image we see a story of some sort. Sometimes it is a clear story; sometimes the story is an unsolved mystery. Whatever, we see some sort of ‘past’, ‘now’ and ‘future’ in the image. The capture of the moment is the point of the story itself. It is also the context in which it is seen. There are as many stories as there are pictures. Your picture sums up the story as you see it – at that moment. The element of time is the crux of the matter.

It’s not about the exposure

We should not confuse the element of time in the scene with the duration of the exposure. Shutter speed is important. It may affect the final artistic outcome or the way you tell the story. However, managing shutter speed is a technical decision or a tool to help the final portrayal. The story told, as a point in time, is separate from the exposure process.

Time in the picture goes beyond the moment

That moment, the capture, is not a merely an isolated incident. It is about something that is about to happen, or is happening or has happened. Do we wait for the clouds to clear, do we wait for the person walking into the frame, do we exclude them? A lot of decisions are made about the scene. Are we going to wait for the rain, do we arrive at sunset or dusk… decisions about the time of the scene. What is going to happen next? When do we take the shot? When will everything be in place?

These are questions from which we make decisions about the moment of the shot. They are also the final piece in the story we construct in the process of the shot. We make these decisions to tell the story more completely. If the finished picture is to have a powerful impact the story should be compelling and appealing.

Time is most obvious in landscapes but there’s more…

There is a story in everything. In landscapes we see the way time has taken its toll on the formation of the rock and the shape of the hills. In flowers there is the joy of the season and the renewal of life. In architecture there is the build itself and the story of the lives shared within its walls which establish is character. Natural history tells of the long drama of life. In fact the story that features in your picture is the essence of your capture. It is recognised by the viewer, even if only implicitly. It is that which creates the character and appeal of your picture.

The element of time is important to every photograph. It is essential for taking the shot – the exposure duration. It is more important as an element of composition. It is the story.

Time awareness

As one of the principle elements in the shot, time adds an essential dimension. Time needs the full attention of the photographer. When you compose your photograph make sure you feel the story. Be aware of its impact on the viewer.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.