Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Getting Great Halloween Shots

Photographing excited (and constantly moving)costume-clad children at night can pose a few challenges, but getting great Halloween pictures can be a snap if you use a few simple techniques.

Use that Jack-o’-lantern! Jack-o’-lanterns can serve as great props as well as a creative light source for super-spooky shots. You can pose your children close to the jack-o’-lantern—either with the pumpkin below their faces or in a silhouette pose, and the light coming from inside will cast a soft and scary light on their faces.

Go for the Action: Go beyond the traditional ‘say cheese’ shot and snap pictures of your trick-or-treaters on the go! Consider photographing them from behind as the run down the sidewalk, fully costumed with treat bags in tow, or walking up the steps to a neighbor’s house. Have them act the part of their costumes and keep snapping!

To Flash or Not to Flash: Most trick-or-treaters try to hit the trail before dark, and using natural light as the sun goes down can yield some wonderfully warm Halloween images. Turn off your flash and use natural light to capture the rich colors of the costumes and painted faces. If possible, snap a few shots before the sun goes down; your Halloween photos will have contain a nice range of moods between the dusk and nighttime hours.

Nighttime Shots: The right flash can make all the difference when it comes to creating that perfect image. Most cameras have a flash that is effective somewhere between five and ten feet from the subject; just don’t stand too close or else you may find your picture looks too bright or overexposed. You’ll also want to set your camera to a ‘nighttime’ mode, and this will give you a slightly longer exposure time, which will help you when shooting in a low-light environment.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Stress-Free Scrapbooks

I marvel at how much straightening and organizing I need to do at the precise moment I sit down to tackle a tough task. I’ve been on a mission to teach my grade school daughter the importance of tackling the most pressing issue of the day first. So, if she’s dreading cleaning her room or finishing a particular homework project, I tell her to do it now so she’ll spend less time worrying and more time enjoying the fact that the task is now complete.

Let’s just say that Mom’s still a work in progress where this lesson is concerned.

One such project that people tend to avoid is organizing their digital pictures for a scrapbook. It seems like such an overwhelming task that few have the intestinal fortitude to start at all. I’m here to tell you that you CAN do this, and not only can you do it, you might even like it! And the best part? Once you’ve completed the task (in far less time than you thought possible), you can order several copies for loved ones and check off multiple shopping ‘to-do’ items off your holiday list.

Decide on a Theme: Some people fret that creating a scrapbook requires ‘going back to the very beginning’ and organizing all your pictures on a chronological level. While this works for some, others find the process far too constraining (and exhausting). You don’t have to cover an entire year if that’s too much of a challenge. Maybe you just want to highlight your favorite pictures from the last few years and note the stories behind why those pictures are so special. Take ten minutes to skim through the pictures you have on the computer. Which ones would you like to include and why? Once you’ve made a few notes, a general theme or format will present itself. Now that you know where you’re going, you’re on the fast-track to having that beautiful book in your hands.

Software Shortcuts: There are so many great software programs available today that will help you ‘tag’ your favorite images so you can quickly find the images you care about the most. If you don’t want to use a software program or fret it may take too much time to find the right one, consider asking your trusted photo retailer which ones would be worth considering. Another alternative would be to create a separate folder on your computer hard drive, name it ‘Favorite Photos,’ and then copy your top picks to that folder.

Get it on Your Calendar: Wouldn’t it be great to have this project completed by December 1st? Yes, it’s possible! Put this order date on your calendar. You can then work backward and pick two time slots to dedicate to picking and organizing your favorite photos.

Let Your Photo Shop Do the Hard Work for You: Your local photo retailer can give you great advice regarding which scrapbook options are available and how long they take—which isn’t long at all these days! Treat yourself to a visit to the shop to discuss your scrapbook ideas. Their knowledgeable staff can guide you through the process and show you just how easy it is to create this amazingly personal and cherished present.