Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

Did I say…
February 9, 2010

…that I am playing the title role in the Hickory Community Theatre production of Gypsy? I don’t think I did.

Well, there you have it! We have been rehearsing for a few weeks and it is a blast. As usual, this is a great cast with a great director. I have also been having fun exploring Lousie (my character). She is made to look and act like a 10 year old well into her late teens and probably early 20’s, and being able to portray a young girl is actually fun! She has her own dreams and desires and pines for the unreachable boy.

And then she grows up. Quickly. There are a few scenes where I feel like the gap is bridged just a bit – like a foot bridge maybe. Or a log that someone laid across the gap. But it is clear where the full brunt of the transition takes place.

At any rate, I am enjoying being in the process again and excited to get on stage. Come see the show. You will enjoy it! And if you don’t, you can always come back here and leave me a nasty comment. 🙂

Photo Tip:

So in honor of the theatre, today’s photo tip is about headshots. A headshot (in the world of the theatrical artist) is an image designed to demonstrate the actor’s connection with the camera and, hence, the connection with the viewer. There are many schools of thought out there about headshots, so let me start with: this is mine. It may not be yours once you dig in and start shooting, but it’s what I like and what works for me and the actors that hire me.

It’s all about the eyes! The eyes staring down the barrel of your lens longingly, happily, seriously, whatever. That is where the focus should be. I like to shoot with a low f-stop to blur some of the hair, nose, shoulders, etc so those eyes are where you want to look. Now this, in itself, is tricky because you don’t want a whole blurry face with sharp eyes only. That will never do. Keep it real. 2.8 should do nicely.

I also like to over-expose just a hair. Do me a favor. Put your camera in Manual (don’t cringe, just do it), look into your viewfinder and press down the shutter halfway (like you would if you were focusing). Now look across the bottom. Not at what you are focusing on, but the bottom of the viewfinder itself. You will see something that looks like this:

This, my friends, is you light meter. The camera looks at your proposed shot while it focuses and tells you, based on all of your settings, what to set your exposure time to. Now this has a lot to do with HOW you are metering, but I am not going to get into that here.

You see that little block along the bottom? It moves to tell you how to adjust your exposure. Ideally, you should try to get it on the 0 in the middle. If you are to the left of the 0, you will likely have a picture that is too dark. To the right of the 0 and your image will be too bright.

So for headshots, I like to sit at about the second little mark to the right of the 0. Sometimes even at the 1 if my subject has darker skin. How do you get there? Adjust your exposure time to be a bit longer. This is something you will have to play with to be happy with.

There are many other things to consider when shooting headshots. This was just to get you started. In addition to camera settings, there are two main kinds of headshots: commercial and theatrical. Those are for another day, also, though.

Explore, make mistakes and find yourself. That is the great thing about taking pictures. There are many, many correct ways to do it. It’s art. It’s YOUR art. Create something you love.


White Balance in the Snow
February 4, 2010

OK, so it’s not much of a tip, but if you have a DSLR camera and all you ever do it shoot on Auto, have a look! The tip is after the REALLY LONG set up. Sorry.

Last week the kids were out of school for a teacher workday. My mother-in-law wanted to take us to do something fun, so off we go — packed into the van — snow tubing. We are in the foothills, so the tubing joints in the mountains are not that far. About an hour and a half. Of course, the last 30 minutes of that is tight, winding, mountain roads. Barf.

We pull into the parking lot and are met by a closed gate with a stop sign hanging from it. What? The MIL called ahead the day before and we were all set to go! Blackberry to the rescue. I call them. They answer. “Oh, we decided to close to blow snow today.” (did I mention it was already snowing?!) Me: “When did you decide that?” The lady on the other end: “Yesterday, about 5.” Are you freaking kidding me?

No worries. We passed a tubing place on the way up. I call them. Nope, they are closed until Friday. Long story even longer, I call two other places that are nearby and everyone is closed. The skiing is open, but the tubing runs are not. Geez.

So we stop and chat. What to do now? A movie? A restaurant? Dare I say it — the mall? (gasp)

Nah. Let’s go ice skating.

Um… Did I mention we had four kids in tow all under the age of 8? Ok. Why not?

So we go and we actually have a fabulous time. We went to Appalachain Ski Mountain where there is an outdoor rink and it snowed the entire time.

The kids did wonderfully. We rented some nifty thingies that helped the kids balance and by the time we were finished they had all tried to skate without aid at least a few times and didn’t want to leave when our time was up.

When I got home and looked at the pictures, I thought this would be a good time for a little lesson. The first shot I took just to check out the lighting looked like this:


Now, believe it or not, my mother-in-law is a very pleasant lady and was having a good time. 🙂 Don’t look at her expression. Look at the color. Ew.

With these newer cameras, Auto White Balance is usually pretty spot on. In the snow, though, not so much. If you have images like this, there is a very easy fix. Have a look at your White Balance settings and change it to “Cloudy” or “Overcast”. There is a little symbol, appropriately, of a cloud. And voila!



These are straight out of the camera (I did not edit these at all and I feel the need to point out that these are not creative, just nice memories of silly faces for me). Much better. Now I can remember my babies the color they actually were. 🙂

White Balance is fun to play with. You can actually get some interesting results when you set the white balance for something other than the norm. Have some fun and play around.