Monday, April 6, 2009

Photo Challenge News & Ideas

Photo challenges are something new for Learn To Take Photos students. The Challenges offer another engaging way for students to share photos and have fun with some friendly competition. All students are invited to participate by uploading and rating photos. There are two prizes for each challenge. One prize is awarded to the Peoples' Choice highest rated photo and the other prize is awarded to the Instructors' Choice photo.

Congratulations to the winner of the most recent challenge. The People and the Instructors agree! It is unanimous, the winner of the Animals Photo Challenge is: Phyllis Burchett with her photo "Cute Kid". Phyllis wins a $20 coupon from Learn To Take Photos and a $10 Gift Card from iTunes!

This week's photo challenge theme is "Sunrise/Sunset". You may submit 3 photos of your choice that suit the theme. The upload deadline is Sunday April 12th 11:59 pm. Please click here to upload your photos.

The "Fill The Frame" challenge is open for rating. Please click here to rate photos. Remember, you must rate at least 50% of the photos for your votes to count. The deadline for rating this challenge is Sunday April 12th 11:59 pm.

Don't forget we have new courses starting Wednesday April 15th. They include:

  • Spring Nature and Landscapes
  • Black Shadow Backgrounds *
  • Horses in Action *
  • Beginners Guide to Great Photos
  • Digital SLR Photography 101
  • Learn more and sign up now!
We hope students will go out and shoot for the challenges. The best way to become an excellent photographer is to go out and shoot! Here are some ideas and tips for this week’s challenge.

We get lots of misty mornings and passing storms this time of year. These conditions make for very dramatic scenes. A misty morning at sunrise is hard to beat! The only thing that might be more beautiful is sunset after a storm.

Mist and fog simplify the scene by limiting visibility and concealing things in the background. A scene that usually doesn’t work can become beautiful when simplified by fog. Jump in your car and drive around on misty mornings to see things in a whole new way.

Clouds of any kind make for exciting photos. Clouds near the horizon are ideal. They light up and turn beautiful colors at sunrise and sunset. Clouds diffuse the sunlight and soften shadow and contrast.

Silhouettes are a great idea for sunrise/sunset photos, too. There is a world of colorful and dramatic possibilities for silhouettes.

The Golden Hour
The golden hour is the hour right around sunrise and sunset. When the sun is near the horizon the light is very warm in color and very directional. The light and shadows are soft. Those are the magic hours when professional quality shots are made. You will discover a wonderful peace and stillness at those times of day. If you haven’t been out shooting at dawn and dusk you have a real treat coming to you.

Check out to find the time of sunrise and sunset in your area. Be sure to get to your location 30 minutes early. There is nothing worse than racing to get somewhere and watching the beautiful light disappear. You have to be there before the light!

When you think sunset is over, stay anyway and wait. After the sun goes over the horizon the sky will light up with color. Sometimes the color and light show will go on for quite awhile after sunset. Stay until all the light is gone.

How to include the sun in your photos
Shooting towards the sun and including it in your image can be very dramatic. But, just putting a big burning sun smack in the middle of your sky is not the best idea because it is going to burn out a big, featureless hole in your picture.

A better way to include the sun is to have it peaking out from behind something. The sun could be just emerging from the clouds, cresting the horizon, behind a tree, etc. You only need a few rays to make a beautiful sunburst.

Put your camera on Aperture Priority at f/8. Fill the frame with your background without including the sun. Pick an area off to the side of the sun and lock the exposure using the AE Lock method for your camera (check your camera manual). Recompose your picture and shoot.

The advantage of using AE Lock is that conditions change very quickly at sunrise and sunset. The light will rise or fall in a matter of short minutes. AE Lock is great for rapidly changing light or static subjects where you can take your time metering, locking and recomposing.

Full Moon April 9th
The moon is full on Thursday April 9th. There will be some great opportunities to shoot compositions that include the full moon rising and setting around that date. Before April 9th the moon will rise before sunset. Wednesday might be the best day to try for a full moon in a sunset sky. You can check the times of moon rise/set on too.

New photography tip is available
We have posted a new photography tip about how to get a blurred or soft focus background in your photos. read more

Happy shooting!

Christina and Laura