By Chris Edwards
Photograph Confidently in any Season
Just a reminder that Four Rivers Photo Workshops help make shooting fun and fast by demystifying camera settings and setting you free to release you inner artist. Aperture, shutter speed and ISO are the photographer-artist's tools. We offer both small-group sessions and individual tutoring. See our REGISTRATION page for details. We added a gift certificate to our purchase selections. Take a look.
As the great American marketing machine is in high-gear for its holiday mode, why not take a decidedly less commercial and more budget-friendly approach: spend some time capturing the joy and beauty of the season with your camera. You might even decide to use the shots yourself for a Christmas card, winter screen-saver, or a "December" page on a homemade calendar you give as a gift. Why not get the jump on next year's busy season by planning ahead now while decorations are still up?
From a composition standpoint, your shots can be as simple or as "glitzy" as you'd like. Sometimes just a detail is enough to evoke the season, such as a simple red bow embellishing the bow of a boat in Ego Alley or a close-up of an angel figurine from a creche. Other times you might want to evoke a more luxurious feeling. In that regard, check out some of the holiday displays at nearby Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville. From peacock feather-festooned trees to glittering silver bowls and mercury-glass candlesticks arrayed on mirrors, the artists at Homestead know how to take decorating to a whole new level! While you're at Homestead, don't forget to swing by the elaborate train set and meander through the rows of poinsettias in amazing hues.
In crowded areas, such as Homestead Gardens, you won't be able to set up a tripod. In those situations, use a monopod, if you have one, or brace your camera, either on a ledge or against a wall. If you must shoot without any support, remember to tuck your elbows in, take a breath and hold it before depressing the shutter. You may also need to boost your ISO to get a sharp shot. This is particularly important for interior shots at churches and in stores where the lighting is low. While using a high ISO may result in more noise (graininess), you can often minimize that via a photo-editing program, like Photoshop Elements.
For outdoor lights, many pros recommend shooting at twilight, when the sky is a dusky blue but still bright enough to define the buildings, rather than shooting when everything but the lights is black. Also, experiment zooming in and out while shooting those lights. You may need to play with your shutter settings a bit, but you can get some very unusual, very abstract shots.
Finally, you may be shooting in chilly weather. If that's the case, keep a spare battery in a warm place, such as next to your body, if your jacket has internal pockets. A sudden transition from a warm house to the cold outdoors (or a move in the opposite direction) can cause condensation on your camera. Putting your camera in a bag and allowing it to gradually transition to the new temperature is the best protection. Also remember to bring some warm gloves. The new ones that allow you to remove the fingertips so that you can use a cell phone will also let you manipulate your camera buttons.
See you out there shooting!
Chris and Laurie
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