Monday, 15 August 2016

Oh no! I didn't take a photo of it, all I have is video!


Recently I was invited to shoot a wedding, but instead of shooting photos, I was asked to shoot video. Taking photos and taking video are actually very similar. In both you try to tell a story through the images - in video you just get to do that with motion and sound. But I digress...

I found myself at a peculiar spot, shooting a beautiful scene (above) and found myself wishing that I had a DSLR to take that image instead of just the video camera.

Well with high definition video cameras, it is actually possible to get a reasonable image by snipping it from the Video! (Literally)

There are several ways to do this - the easiest being to use video software that will let you pause and export a frame of video. This will provide you with a full resolution image. However, if you do not have software that will do this, then a simple screen shot will also do the trick.

Windows comes with a handy little program called "Snipping Tool". Simply click start and type in "Snipping" and you should see it come up. When the program starts, (I'm told you can use Command-Shift-4 on a Mac).

Play the video in your video player. Expand the video to full screen if possible so you will capture the highest resolution possible, then pause the video where you want to capture the image.

Try not to stop the video in the middle of a blurred frame unless that is the desired effect. Sliding forward or backward a few frames will help you to find that perfect image.

Bring the Snipping tool to the front by using alt-tab or selecting it on your task bar - don't worry if it covers the video; it will disappear when you take the snip.

Snapped from a video of a screen at Universal Studios Florida
Select "New" and "Rectangular Snip", then simply drag your mouse over the video frame to snap the portion of the image you want. You can then mark up the image with a pen if you wish, email it, copy it to the clipboard, or save it for other purposes.

Of course it should go without saying that you should only snip a frame from your own video - you should not snip frames from copyrighted works.

If you have a photo editor (windows does a nice job of correcting minor issues in photos as well), you can tweak the image to enhance it further and save it again.

As other screens will show the image perfectly well, you're now ready to post your image to social media. If you snapped the image for a full HD video (1920x1080), the resolution is almost 2Mpx, which is better than most first generation digital cameras. You can easily print a 4x6 print from this image - though I wouldn't go blowing it up to full poster size.

If you like to create photo books, you can even use these snipped images in your books to display sans-computer or TV.

Enjoy!

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Family Photos - I have nothing to wear!

What should we all wear for our family photo session? It sounds like a tough question - here are a few simple tips to help you out.

Should we all wear something similar? 

That depends. Sometimes this can be unifying for a family, but when overdone, it can look cheesy. If you’re looking for something more natural, you might want to stick with “casual dress” and wear what you are comfortable in. 

Everyone wearing something similar (but not the same) is a good idea though – for instance, all jeans, all dress clothes or all bike shorts and bicycles. Imagine if you had each person wearing one of those - the photo would not look so good! Too many different styles and colors can be confusing in an image.

These are digital memories and what you are wearing should represent who you are at this time.

What colors should my kids wear? 

You will probably want your kids to look smart, but try and put them in clothes that have muted colors and they feel comfortable in.  If the clothes are itchy they will get tired of the session quickly and it will be much harder to capture smiles. 

If you have more than one child – think about whether their clothes will complement each other.

What kind of clothing should adults wear? 

Long pants are best and if a lady wears a skirt, below the knee may be best as you will likely be sitting for at least part of the session. Keep clothing relatively simple – muted colors, similar  but not the same top and bottom (either dark, or light). 

Definitely Avoid bright colors, busy patterns and logos as these will distract from the main subject – you!

Here are some suggestions for different situations:

  • Studio backdrop / White set - white t-shirts and blue jeans, light colors with beige pants - each family member in same color hue example: light blues to darker blues, browns to beige.
  • Studio backdrop / Tuscan Wall or Beige backdrop - medium to darker colors, khakis and creams or fall colors work well for these sets
  • On Location - earth tones (just look at nature), greens, browns, burgundy, any fall colors look fantastic!

Bare feet are OK for the white set and medium to dark shoes for the other sets, (make sure to wear dark socks with your shoes - unless you want your socks to be the focus of the images). Keep jewelry simple and to a minimum.

Wear your hair as you would normally with the clothes you choose. If you’re getting haircuts, do so at least 2 weeks prior to your portrait session – it will look more natural.

Will you figure out how to pose us or should we suggest what we would like?

The simple answer to this is “yes”.

Most photographers are very happy to accommodate and work on poses you prefer if you have something in mind. Putting our minds together to come up with the best places and poses always works better than just one person coming up with an idea, and I really enjoy this collaborative process.

However, if you have no idea what you would like, your photographer will have lots of poses and places in mind. Don’t worry. They will work with you on the spot to create great images depending on your family, the available light and the surroundings.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Family Photos - I don't have time!

Taking a family portrait is not like it used to be. You don't have to spend hours getting dressed up and have to sit all stiff in the studio with huge flashes going on around you.

These days it is a lot of fun.

Dress as you normally do (maybe a little bit nicer if you like) and pick your favorite location and let's go!

A session can be anywhere from half an hour to about an hour and in that time you can get quite a few different poses and views. Sessions can last longer if you have a lot of people you want involved, but remember that kids get tired in an hour session and that means they are less likely to smile, so keep your group to your family, or schedule different parts of your family to come at different times.

If you choose to have your photos taken in a studio, the session itself is usually shorter as the location of the photos is fixed (though it can be a little flexible if not using backdrops). Setup and teardown can reduce the actual session time by about ½ hour, but that's usually lots of time for a regular family group.

What is the best time for a session?

Depending on the kind of session you are looking for, and the demeanor of your kids, timing can be very important.  Sessions should be timed when kids are most likely to be relaxed and “calmly energetic”.  We can work, as far as possible, around feeding times/school pick-ups etc., and I can stay for as long as it takes to get the pictures you are looking for. Depending on the kids, they may get tired after 15 minutes, or may go on forever like the energizer bunny - you know your kids so we can plan accordingly.

If your photos are to be taken outside, in natural light, the best time of day is an hour or two before sunset, or an hour or two after sunrise – the light is soft and atmospheric, and you are less likely to get big shadows on faces like you would if we met on a sunny midday. That being said, however, if your schedule works better during the middle of the day, we can accommodate that and work with the available light.

Of course if you are looking for a studio portrait session, any time works as we control the lighting. Sessions can be scheduled almost any time you are available.