Past photography and equipment tips from the staff:
Black and White
Gayle, our talented Queen of Black and White, wants (okay, was coerced) to share with you one of her favorite black and white photo effects. This is a funky effect, and who can't use more funky in their lives?
Here she is:
I like to use a very high ISO B&W film, like 3200, and shoot it in bright light. Set the ISO on your camera high, 3200 or a little lower, and shoot outside. High ISO films are usually used for low light but shooting in bright light will give you a funky, grainy effect. It also brings out some strange highlights that you didn't even notice.
Parts of the picture will be washed out, so have the subject close to the lens.
In the darkroom, I keep it in the developer for about 10 minutes, much longer than usual. It turns a little brown and you can see every highlight.
If you try this and want me to develop it, just ask for the "Gayle Effect" when you drop it off and we'll know what you want!
Amber says: Try manual mode!
For real control over you exposures, get a hand-held light meter and use your camera's manual mode. This allows you, not the camera, to decide exactly how your shot will look. Your camera doesn't know which part of your shot is most important to you, so it gives you an average of all the possible exposures in your image area. With a hand-held light meter, however, you can take creative control into your own hands and decide exactly which areas of the photo will be exposed perfectly and which will be lighter or darker.
Winfield has a tip on getting softer lighting with your flash:
What do I do - My flash is way too harsh when I take my photos? - Use a diffuser or bounce your flash. Soft diffusers come in all sizes from small ones that fit popup flashes on your SLR / DSLR to larger ones that custom fit taller shoe mount flashes. A diffuser is just that - it diffuses or softens the flash intensity. It spreads out the light, reducing the harsh shadows that so often show up with straight-on flash.
Many larger shoe mount flashes will tilt and swivel. If the ceiling is the right color, and not too tall, you can use that to spread out the light source to reduce the harshness of the flash. A better tool would be to place a white or colored attachment to your flash to give just a bit more direction to the flash, while still bouncing it off, and diffusing the light source.
Lumiquest is one company that makes flash diffusers and bouncers - one of my favorites is the LQ-105 Promax System. It fits any shoe mount flash on your SLR / DSLR. It combines a bounce tool with a diffuser. The bounce has your straight white bounce for most situations, but also comes with silver or gold bounce materials to influence the final colors in your photos. For example, the gold insert will give a golden glow to your portraits. So free yourself of straight on harsh flash by using simple tolls to bounce or diffuse your standard flashes.
Rhonda, being an animal lover, has a couple of hints about pet photography:
Most important to me is to take the picture at their level. I have seen so many pictures where Fluffy is just a little spot in the middle of the carpet. It may be a great shot of Fluffy's back, but I want to see the face! Try sitting on the floor or lying on your stomach to take the photo. Anything for our babies!
A frustrating problem with pet photos is "pet-eye," those evil red or green-eyed beings that appear when you use a flash. You can alleviate that in a couple of ways - best would be not to use a flash. Try higher lighting situations. You can also try moving the flash farther away from their eyes, or try bouncing the light off the ceiling. One other method is to use a diffuser on your flash. If you have a point and shoot camera that cannot use diffusers, try putting a piece of cheesecloth over theflash.
If all else fails, bring your alien animal pictures in to us and we can fix those eyes digitally!
The cat picture really is the same shot, with some added color correction to the face.
Jeff and Dennis say they've had many film customers who are not comfortable with taking the digital plunge. What the customers don't realize is that they already have! Our lab professionals scan each roll of negatives into a digital format before printing the photo. Why not ask for a CD to go with your order? Your pictures will be saved in that digital format and you'll still have your negatives.
Having your pictures in a digital format on a CD opens up your options. You can pick and choose which ones you want to print atour in-store kiosk. Just have a seat and we'll help you get started. You can also request a DVD slideshow to entertain the family, or make a beautiful hardbound photo book. Digital images are very versatile.
Dennis says "Always use a lens hood! It will help in every single picture. Most times, you won't know it but your pictures will just be better. It shades the front element of the lens from extraneous light, which will degrade your image indoors or outdoors."