The three things I most often hear complaints about when people are critiquing their own photography are: (1) faces too dark, but the rest of scene looks good; (2) blurry pictures of kids playing sports; and (3) can’t get the “out of focus look” behind subjects.
Well, the first is caused when the subject is against a bright background. The camera meters the entire scene and exposes accordingly. There are two solutions, but they yield different results. The first is to force the camera to change its exposure to properly render the faces and ignore the bright background. However, this solution will result in an over-exposed background that may be plain white in the final image. That may be acceptable if the background doesn’t matter anyway. The other, better, solution is to bring in some additional light to make the light on the faces about the same as the light in the background. The additional light can be the camera’s flash or from another source. The balanced light will render both the faces and the background properly. That is what was done in the example of the two children with the lake in the background.
Blurry sports pictures result from the shutter speed being too slow. The only solution is to override the camera’s automatic settings, by manually setting the shutter to a higher speed. 1/500th of second for young children and 1/1000th for teens and older are my recommended settings. No camera is likely to select these speeds automatically though some have an action setting of some kind that may help get you close.
The out of focus look (or bokeh) is achieved by opening up the lens aperture. This shortens the depth of field and makes things in front of and behind the subject be out of focus. The closer you are to the subject the greater the effect. (Of course you have to remain outside the minimum focus distance of your lens.) Also, the effect will be increased by using a telephoto lens. Much like the solution to blurry sports pictures, it means taking control of the camera to achieve the effect you want. You have to put in some manual settings to make sure the aperture us what you need.
Jim Solomon is a local photographer with a studio called Photography by Jim and Frieda. Jim and Frieda have been married over 50 years, and their daughter, Tracie has been part of their operation for more than ten years, and the family pet poodle, Zasha completes the team. His studio is holding Beginning Digital Photography classes which begin on February 21st. Call 256-859-3545 for more details or visit the website http://photographybyjimandfrieda.com/