Always Look Good When A Camera Is Pointed At You

With MIP photographers having almost a combined century of experience here are some tips for looking hot in photos:

1. Find Your Signature Smile
Grab your phone camera and blast of a series of shots of yourself smiling – all kinds of smiles, pouty, happy, sexy smiles. Look for the smile that spreads right across your face and makes your eye light up too. This is the smile you want in your photos. Practice makes perfect.

2. Keep It Simple
Probably because of some childhood horror portrait session you automatically end up being stiff and looking like a deer caught in headlights because that is the way your family or school portraits always turned out! Whether standing, sitting or lying down think tall and the moment you feel yourself stiffening up take a deep breath and exhale slowly unwinding the bits that have locked up. Sounds like yoga? It almost is. When standing see if you can lean into something or (preferably) someone. When sitting, wriggle around until you are comfortable. When lying down don’t fall asleep.

3. Makeup to Avoid
Whether indoors or outdoors avoid foundation and concealers with any SPF in them. These add shine and will make you look pale and washed out as well as shiny. Matte foundation is the only way to go. Adding a bit more eye, blush and lip makeup will compensate for the photographic process dulling them down. When in doubt hire a makeup artist that has lots of TV or Movie experience and learn the tricks from them, then you can do it yourself.

4. Put Your Hands On Your Hips
Queen Victoria died years ago. You can move your arms to where they are comfortable. Hanging down is rarely comfortable. Hands on hips can accentuate your waist, making the photo look more natural and animated instead of looking like a ten pin waiting to be bowled over. Position your hands with your fingers out, palms facing behind you. This show off hand and arm jewelry along with looking more natural and comfortable.

5. Raise the Camera
It may look good when the photographer goes down to their knees to get the shot but they are doing you no favors when the lens is below your eye line! Not only do your eyelids drop when you look down your jawline gets swallowed up as well. If the photographer insists on taking “low” angle shots insist that they also take some at or just above your eye line as well.

6. Proper Lighting Is Key To Every Thing
These tips are for making you look lovely. So avoid strong direct and right lights these casue harsh shadows which accentuate blemishes and cause contrasting dark areas under your eyes or beneath the nose and even onto your neck from your chin. Lighting that “wraps” around your face and is even from the top of the forehead to the bottom of the chin, as well as from cheek to cheek is what will produce glowing skin and soften any lines/wrinkles.

7. Shape Your Silhouette
To lengthen your torso and ensure your best silhouette don’t slouch and when sitting sit forward in the chair or on the stool. When standing and you are not in hight heels just lift onto your toes a little bit. But don’t over do it as that will throw into a stiff pose again. Your shoulder line should always be at an angle to the camera. Again don’t go beyond about 30 degrees as a great angle makes you look posed.

8. Vusualize Pleasant Thoughts
It may sound a bit New Age but actually visualizing yourself doing something that makes you feel happy will produce a genuine smile and you will look serene rather than a forced facial expression. It could be a special memory, your favorite moment, or a sentimental sweet thing your friend, spouse, or child does for you.

9. Wear Clothes That Hide the Bad and Bring Out The Good
As a general rule darker tones are more slimming. Sleeves should not be make your arms look bigger. Horizontal stripes are verboten, they produce an optical illusion that whatever the stripes are on is wider than it really is add a little camera lens distortion and you’ll think bad thoughts again.

10. Practice Facial Expressions and Posing
Remember your phone camera exercise from earlier on. More self portraits! Don’t purse thin lips, part them slightly and blow lightly when the photographer give you the signal that they are about to take the shot, it creates the look of fuller ones. If your face shape is round avoid facing the camera straight on and instead turn the head slightly to one side and this is on top of angling your shoulders. Think you have a weak chin or an over-projected nose? Push the jaw forward a bit when shot from the side for a more balanced profile.

11. Only take My Good Side!
Contrary to common belief, a bad side doesn’t really exist. Focusing all your energy on looking into the camera with confidence and slightly turning your body at an angle to either side. This will help show off your ‘WOW!’ personality to be caught in the image.

If you are looking for that special image take hang on your wall or as a screen saver take a look at Mosaic Images Photography Galleries.

What Focal Length Should I Use?

Have you ever asked or been asked; “What focal length should I use (for this picture from where I’m standing)?” It is a common question asked by many people as they take their first steps into photography. As an answer; “It depends.“, doesn’t really cut the mustard but if  you wear an analog wrist watch then the real answer is staring you in the face!

Caveat: This article assumes you are using lens designed to cover a 24x36mm sensor size (what used to be 135mm and is now sometimes called FX size). If not, then you need to check your camera’s manual for the “crop factor” and adjust the results accordingly.

But first a little background. Every lens has a well defined Angle or Field of View (AoV/FoV or coverage). Dig out your lens specification sheet or check on the www for the coverage of your lens. Caution;  some lens manufactuers quote the AoV as the diagonal of a 24x36mm sensor instead of its horizontal (azimuth) coverage. Tricky, but a little bit of basic geometry using the len’s Focal Length (FL) and the FX (24x36mm) sensor size will do the trick. Or you could use this calculator to create a table for you: Scroll down to the Field of View Calculator.

Drummed into us from an early age is that a circle can be divided into 360 degrees. With that “fact” we can do interesting things, such as divide a pie in various ways by using degrees as our measure. Your analog (sorry digital users) watch has a face that shows a “circle of time”.It is normally divided into 60 minutes.  A quick bit of division shows us that one minute of clock time must equal 6 degrees of circle angle. And most of us have learnt one way or another that 15 minutes is 90 degrees,  half an hour is 180 degrees and 45 minutes is 270 degrees. All useful stuff but we need to refine things a bit.   It is easy to see that each 5 minute period of time equates to 30 degrees of angle and so on.

How does this help me calculate the focal length to use?

Easy! First, point your watch’s 12 O’clock at the subject of your shot.  Next, decide what is to be the left side of the frame and imagine the minute hand pointing at the spot. Remember the minute number the hand is over, e.g. 5 minutes to the hour.  Now decide on the right side of the picture and again, imagine the minute hand pointing there, e.g. 7 past the hour.

Some of you have no doubt raced ahead and figured this out but for the rest of us the final step is to add the two “minute” values (5 + 7 == 12) and multiply by the magic number 6, giving 72 .

And there you have it, the horizontal (azimuth) angle of view is 72 degrees. Now you pick the lens that has this angle/field of view or the nearest coverage and blaze away. Of course, you may have to walk back or forward a little if you don’t have a lens with the exact coverage, but that is good, no? And zoom lens users have it easy too 🙂

With the almost universal use of smart phones you can create a table of your lens’ coverages and keep it as a Note or construct a little diagram like this.

If your specific FL is not shown you can interpolate as it is an arithmetic progression. For example, if you have a 100mm lens then it is half of the 50mm len’s 43° Angle of View, giving 21.5° but let’s not get too fussy here. 20° s is close enough and that is close enough to 3.5 minutes on your watch face “compass”!

Angle of View Chart of common Focal Lengths
Angle of View Chart of common Focal Lengths
Wristwatch used to tell angle of view of picture.
Wrist watch used to calculate angle of view

Looking for some pictures to brighten a blank spot you have on a wall then go to Mosaic Images Photography Galleries

Why Is It So?

Coming soon. An occasional series of posts that examine aspects, both technical and aesthetic, about image making. Let’s face it, with the obsolescence of silver halide film, photography is going through a seismic shift in what it mean to “make” a photograph and I have no idea where this journey is taking us, but it is a wild ride on the crest of the wave and the view is pretty fantastical for all the MIP photographers!

This was triggered by watcing a program where 3 serious ameteur photographers were thrown into the deep end (don’t feel sorry for them, they volunteered) and with unfamiliar equipment had to shoot one phase each of a wedding. A more stressful assignment couldn’t be imagined, short of war photography. Although the shots they chose for judging weren’t bad they really weren’t very good both from a technical or aesthetic point of view.

Why the title “Why Is It So? This was the catch phrase for an amazing physics professor who, although of US origin, spent a lot of time in Australia featuring in physics programs on TV and lecturing at Universities. For those who grew up in that era his “Why is it so?” will never be forgotten as it ignited the desire to find out why things behaved the way they did.

Looking for some pictures to brighten a blank spot you have on a wall then go to Mosaic Images Photography Galleries