Simple Techniques to Improve Taking Photos or Videos
By John D. McCann
I do a lot of photographing of products for my website, as well as taking photos for articles that I write. I also, on occasion do a YouTube video. Over the years I have learned some simple techniques which allow me to enhance my photos, as well as videos. I thought I might share some of these techniques so you can do so as well.
Oftentimes when shooting photos of products, or doing a video, I need more light to enhance a specific area. A good example is when I need a head shot, but the brim of a hat shades the eyes.
A quick, easy, and inexpensive aid is a White Foam Core Board. They are available in various sizes at most stationary stores, like Staples. I like to keep a few around that are 30" x 40" and I use them when shooting around the property or when I have the advantage of my truck being with me. They are light and can be held to direct light on a subject, or leaned against something to direct light on yourself. Often when doing a video, I lean a white board against the tripod holding the camera, to direct light on my front if my back or side is to the sun. You wouldn't want to be carrying a couple around on a hike, but there is an option for that which I will discuss shortly.
The other day when I needed my wife, Denise, to take a photo of me wearing a head net. After the first shot, we could see that the brim of my hat was shading my face so I went and got one of my white foam core boards and held it in front of me directing the light from the sun up under the brim of the hat. The result was a much better picture.
Of course, it is handy to have a second person handy to move and position a white foam core board to direct the light where you want it. But the advantage of simple foam core board is it is rectangular and can be leaned against something if you don't have an assistant. I have often leaned one against the tripod holding my video camera in order to direct light onto myself, if the sun is to my side or back.
Even though the white foam core boards are inexpensive, as I stated above, they are difficult to carry in the field. However there are inexpensive options such as the 42" 5 in 1 light reflector kit, which can be purchased between $19.95 and $39.95. I believe I paid about $20.00 for mine.
The light reflector kit provides you with various options for reflecting light as well as restricting light. When the pouch for the system is closed it is only 16" in diameter. But when you unzip the pouch and withdraw the reflectors, they spring open into a 42" diameter reflector. There is a silver, gold, black and white reflector, as well as a 42" ring that is made from a translucent fabric which is used to diffuse light. All the reflectors and diffuser are collapsible by easily twisting them in a circular manner so they fit back into the 16" pouch.
The thing I really like about this 5 in 1 commercial kit is the diffuser. I'm sure many of you already know that it is better to photograph when it is overcast. Not dark, but when the light from the sun is diffused by light cloud cover. It reduces shadows and can provide more detail of a subject. I find this particularly helpful when photographing products for my website. It is also handy to reduce glare on your face when you are trying to take video and the sun is on your face, Of course it helps to have somebody who can hold and move the diffuser where it needs to be.
Well there you have it. Some simple techniques I have learned over the years, and hopefully they will help you when taking photos or videos. Of course they are not all inclusive and I'm sure you will devise some of your own techniques over the years. If you do, share them with others.
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Copyright © 2016 by John D. McCann