The Ten Best-Kept Secrets for Capturing a Picture-Perfect Summer Vacation
By Jef Anog, Internationally Renowned Dubai-based Photographer
The Eid Al Fitr has finally been announced and many people will have long breaks that could be perfect for an exciting summer vacation. Whether you choose to fly outside the country or opt to do a road trip within UAE, everyone will be aiming to captivate these beautiful moments with our loved ones, families and friends.
“A picture paints a thousand words and most of the time, even more than that. Images are very important to our lives as sometimes it is the only thing that never changes, photography freezes time and even after many years, we get to treasure these special moments captured by one single click,” says Jef Anog, a Dubai-based fashion photographer who is known for working with famous celebrities such as Haleema Boland and Alina Blinova and fashion designers in the land such as Michael Cinco and Ezra Santos and whose images has become the covers of numerous magazines and publications. “This is the reason why we need to learn the basic tips and secrets of photography aside from the fact that everyone is now in love with taking photos and selfies of their vacations, food, friends, families and ourselves” Jef added.
Below are the top 10 best-kept secrets of a professional photography that neophytes and everyone who loves taking pictures can learn from.
- See the Light
Photography is all about lighting. Pay attention to how much light you have and the sources of it. Learning how to see the light is essential to develop your skills in photography. Being able to determine the direction, temperature, and intensity of the available light will help you know how to position your subject and which camera settings to use. If you are going to shoot outdoor using the sun as your main light source, be cautious not to take photos of a person when the sun is at their back. However, if you’re taking a photo in front of a stunning tower and you’re unlucky to move in another position you can use the camera’s flash or a reflector to fill in shadows.
- Right Camera Mode
Your camera has different shooting modes, ranging from manual operation to very specific scene modes. If you’re into sport or any activity with fast movements you can use Shutter Priority (“S”) mode and put at least 1/125 second to freeze the action. If you are in low light situations, you can use Aperture Priority (“A”) and put the widest aperture (smallest F number) to make sure more light is entering the lens as possible. Try to avoid using Automatic or P mode, since it does not give you much control over the exposure.
- Compose Your Images
I think the heart of a photograph is its composition—how you compose or place different elements in the single frame. The easiest way is to follow the Rule of Thirds, imagine four lines, two lying horizontally across the image and two vertical creating nine even squares. Try and align the subject along these lines and intersections and it will give you a more dramatic interesting shot than the boring centered subject. Most of the cameras have a rule of thirds grid overlay that you can activate when shooting.
- Use Simple Backgrounds
It is a very simple approach that works perfectly in digital photography. You just need to decide what needs to be in the frame and avoid anything that is a distraction. Choose background with neutral colors and simple patterns as much as possible. This is very important especially when you place the model off center.
- Sense of Depth
If you are into beautiful sceneries or landscape photographs, you definitely want your viewer to feel like they are also present in that place. Create a sense of depth by using a small aperture of f/16 or smaller so that everything in the image is sharp. Placing an object or person in the foreground gives a sense of scale and emphasizes how far away the distance is. Use a tripod if possible because small aperture usually requires a slower shutter speed.
- The White Balance
Paying attention to the white balance settings will give you a more stunning image with accurate colors. If the white balance is even slightly off, it can produce a highly noticeable bluish or reddish shade appear in an overall picture. In order to set the correct white balance, first is to take a picture of a white piece of paper or a gray card. Second, tell your camera which neutral image corresponds to the correct white balance. It all depends on the camera make and model you’re using, but the basic process is pretty much the same. Go the main menu, pick white balance, and then pick manual. Under manual white balance, there’s an option to use a reference shot from your camera’s memory. Pick that one, and then find the image you just took. Your white balance is now calibrated for the situation right in front of you!
- Use Flash Wisely
Sometimes using flash in an indoor shoot results harsh and unnatural portraits. Therefore, there are various ways you can take an image indoors without too much harsh lighting. First, use the widest aperture as possible – this way more ‘light’ will reach the sensor and you will have a nice blurred background. Also, you need to set the ISO range from ISO 800 to 1600. Using a tripod or an I.S. (Image Stabilization) lens is also a great way to avoid blur. And finally, adding just a little bit of flash, ‘light’ makes it possible to fill in shadows and will give you a more natural-looking photo. You can also point the flash at the ceiling or a side wall and bounce the flash onto the model to get significantly softer and more flattering light.
- Use A Tripod
A tripod only takes seconds to erect and adjust, yet it can support your camera in the perfect position for however long you wish, helping you to take great images. Using a tripod will allow you to set up framing, and can come in handy—along with your camera’s self-timer—for getting that shot of you in front of an iconic tower.
- Consider A Retouch
It is not “cheating” if you retouch your images. Getting your photos right in-camera is the main goal, but it is not a crime if you do a bit of retouching. Performing some very basic editing on a photo can help improve its quality drastically. Cropping a bit can help with composition, and you can also rotate a photo so that horizon lines are straight. Consider using a free photo editing program like Pixlr, GIMP or Picasa for your photos.
- Quality Over Quantity
It is very important to choose the best from the best in your set of images. You can take hundreds of photos of one perfect subject but don’t flood your social media accounts by uploading all of those images. You should spend some time going through your shots to select the best and eliminate photos that may be out of focus or poorly composed. It’s always good to show just one image or two for your viewers not become bored seeing multiple images with almost the same composition.
About the author
Jef Anog is an internationally renowned Dubai-based photographer who opened his studio in the UAE in 2013. He served as official photographer of Michael CInco for Fashion Forward Dubai (FFWD), a definitive fashion platform for Dubai and the Middle East – which provides a platform and a progressive direction for fashion in the region and attended by fashion industry big names such as Amato by Furne One, Dany Tabet and Michael Cinco, to name a few. Anog also conducted several fashion photoshoot campaigns such as Michael Cinco’s Couture Wedding Collection Spring-Summer 2014. The collection later received international recognition and worn by Hollywood celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Sophia Vergara, Britney Spears, to name a few.
Jef’s presence in the fashion and entertainment industry has resulted in developing an array of exciting projects to launch later in 2016. He is also an advocate and supporter of Dubai-based charitable institutions.
Jef plans to conduct series of photo exhibition around the seven Emirates in Q4 of 2016 to use the power of photography to spread his message of love and peace using the seven Emirates as his backdrop.
Drawing upon his 10+ years of experience in the fashion and beauty industries, Jef is also soon to launch a commemorative book in 2017 featuring his great works over the last decade.