Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Capture Better Pictures of Your Kids

December 11, 2012

The holidays are here and you don’t want to miss any of those touching family moments. Some of the most treasured things parents can possess are pictures of their kids. Here are a few simple picture taking tips for your holiday events.

1. Have fun with Props. Think toys, teddy bears, books, a wreath, dreidels or a candy cane. Kids will be more at ease when they are holding something in their hands. Let them show off their personality in the pictures.

2. Photograph at a child’s level. Get down close. Squatting or sitting to take a picture of your kids will capture them at a much more flattering angle.

3. Shoot a lot. If you’re using a digital camera, there’s no waste. You never know what your kids will do next so keep the shots going. Kids don’t have to be posed and looking at the camera to get a great shot. Candid shots work too!

4. Try shooting in monochrome mode, black and white mode or use Instagram-type effects.

5. Shoot with the highest jpeg quality. If you know photoshop, shoot in both jpeg and raw. Having a large digital file is like having a longer zoom because it allows you to crop the picture and still have good resolution to print and share the cropped image.

6. Crop your photos to clean up the background. A cluttered, busy environment around your subject can overpower your photo. One way to avoid this is to frame the picture in such a way that the area behind your child is free of clutter and then crop the photo to zero on the main subject.

Happy Holidays!


PRVideo.TV Goes Over the Edge!

October 17, 2012

I feel fortunate to have traveled all over the world and work in places such as Fiji, Israel and Japan. After last weekend I can add a new adventure to my list. It’s a place few men or women have ever traveled, the top of The Westin™ Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, 32 stories straight up! The Boy Scouts of America hired PRVideo.TV to take still photos of their Over the Edge 3 fundraising event. The goal was to raise $100,000 for the Boy Scouts of America and inner city programs for kids in Los Angeles. What an exciting event to witness first hand!

The news camera crews gathered below and helicopters hovered overheard anticipating the start of the event. Crowds of people gathered to take pictures and cheer on the participants. This year sixty brave participants rappelled along 367 feet of shimmering glass windows to the safety of terra firma. What a rush! Arthur “Tri” Fritz, Director of Annual Giving for the Los Angeles Area Council, Boy Scouts of America (Office: (213) 413-4400 x313 | offered me a chance to handle the ropes myself but I passed. Maybe next year!

The Los Angeles skyline was a sight to see and everyone involved had a great blast. Best of all, we were all there raising money for a great cause!

Be sure to check out the website for Over The Edge 3 and if you happen to watch the ABC News Video see if you can spot me up on the roof! 🙂


Helpful Tips on Cell Phone Pics

September 25, 2012

With the iPhone 5 now out and new panoramic picture capabilities, we can’t forget the basic tips for getting a better photo with your cell phone. Here are some of my beginning tips to consider when you are out and about taking pictures.

1. Remember Your Thirds

“Composition 101″ still applies to taking pictures with your cell phone. Try to imagine two horizontal and two vertical lines intersecting across your image, and place important elements of your image at the point where two of these lines intersect. Equally, try to place important lines (e.g. a horizon) across one of the third lines in your photo. Many cell phones now super-impose these lines over the image for you, which can be incredibly helpful. Be sure to turn this feature on if you have it available.

2. Lighting is Still Key

Although cell phones have advanced tremendously, they still can’t replace your SLR. One of the key areas that many phones struggle with is in capturing enough light. To help with this, ensure that your subject is well lit. Turn on the light, open the curtains, or wait until the sun is a little higher in the sky. Try out your cell phone’s camera flash and see what improvement that provides. It may be the slight boost you need. Try using it outside as a fill-flash and get that extra “punch” you were looking for.

3. Get Close to Your Subject

One of the most common mistakes with camera phone images is that their subject ends up being a tiny, unrecognizable object in the distance. Fill up your view finder with your subject to save having to zoom in on the subject when editing it later.  The best way to deal with a crowded and busy background is to fill the frame with your subject. Get close and avoid a photo with a tiny subject in the middle of a crowded background.

4. Don’t Throw Away “Mistakes”

Wait to see your cell phone pictures on your computer. You might find that they come alive on a quality monitor. You’ll also find that even “mistakes” and blurred shots can be usable for abstract ways.

5. Take it Everywhere!

The best camera is the one you have with you!  There is no need to carry around an extra point-and-shoot, or remember to charge a second device. The cell phone can’t replace a powerful digital SLR, but it’s an incredibly capable piece of equipment. Take it with you everywhere and shoot off many shots quickly and without cost. Experiment with different modes, composition, new angles, and perspectives.

Happy Shooting!


Get Ready For Your Executive Portrait

April 18, 2012

Websites, LinkedIn, brochures, press releases, company publications and other media all require a head shot of The Boss or relevant executive depending on the story.  This picture can carry a lot of meaning as it may be the first and possibly only visual representation of your company and values a new client or the public may have.  As they say “there’s never a second chance to make a first impression;”  approach the creation of this image with some care.

First of all, a definition: we are talking “chest up” shots here, not wider environmental or group images.  Generally your photographer will supply a background of a drape or seamless paper.

Gov. Jerry Brown

I never thought I’d be writing a column like Emily Post, but here are a few suggestions to help the executive prepare for a photo shoot:

1. What to wear:  Simple and classic are best for professional portraits.  Unless you are the late Steve Jobs, a suit and tie are your executive uniform.  Keep colors and patterns muted but some color in a tie adds flair.  Your clothes are the frame for your face but they also reflect taste and professionalism.

Female executives enjoy a bit more freedom but I recommend avoiding distracting jewelry and decolletage.  As an executive the goal is to transmit an image of competency, intelligence and authority.

It helps to bring an alternative jacket, tie or scarf to see how they work on camera.

2. Colors to avoid: pastels, greens if your complexion has yellow undertones as green can make skin tones appear sickly; avoid multi-colored and busy patterns and bright red as the principle color.  No white, beige or yellow shirts without a darker jacket.

If you have a very dark complexion the best way to drive your photographer into another profession is to wear all white as lighting then becomes very challenging.  In general unless you’re a bride or a doctor, don’t wear all white!

Susan Tellem, RN, APR

3. Grooming:  gentlemen, this is a close-up so have a fresh shave and check out those pesky nose hairs if you trend toward “shrubbery.”  Likewise, if you are prone to a 5 o’clock shadow at noon, schedule your session as early in the day as possible.  Just before your session assess your reflection in the executive washroom.

  4. Make up and retouching: if your skin is very oily or shiny both women and men can benefit from some subtle pressed powder.  Thinning or absent hair can be supported by a little powder of the appropriate  shade to harness shine.

Gov. Brown’s portrait has almost no back lighting.  This avoided a “hotspot” on the top of his head from the usual back light. His photographer positioned the Governor in front of a light background which supplied the needed separation.

Near-miracles of retouching can take place in PhotoShop or other software.  But If you have an unfortunate cold sore, razor burn or other prominent skin eruption, allow the photographer to carefully apply a dab of cover-up with a new sterile applicator or fresh cotton ball.  This can really help the final result.

If you have a “trademark” mole or other feature that might typically get the Photoshop axe, let your photographer know in advance of any editing how far you will go in image “improvement.”

Meg Whitman

4.  Scheduling your session:  Time is money and many executives are scheduled to the extreme.  Yet this photograph will be your “public face” for years on news releases, websites, social media and company brochures, right?  So, if possible, try to budget a good fifteen minutes to work with your professional photographer once the shooting technology and environment are ready to go.

5.  Posing and expression:  What is less natural or spontaneous than a frozen grin in front of a camera?  If possible, relax a bit and be open to a few variations in posing and expression.  Use the spirit of collaboration, that way you will have a good number of images to choose from after the session.

If you are working with a photographer for the first time, let him/her know what you like and don’t like about your image.  A little friendly banter can help lower the stress of a photo session and result in a representation of you that reflects both your professional status AND your humanity.

All of these suggestions work equally well for a video interview.   For fun and more great tips on executive portraits, check out Five Easy Steps to bad Headshots    Happy shooting!

Time Lapse In Action

August 14, 2011

You must check out this great project by filmmaker Ryan Killackey and his wife. They shot over 10,000 photos over an almost 2 year time period to create this video. It is called a “Day In California” –

It’s a Mino HD World

February 9, 2010

I just made my first Flip Camera video with a little second-generation Mino HD.

It’s about the size of an iphone and is completely idiot-friendly:  no zoom, no controls, fixed wide angle lens.  Push the big red button to record;  push it again to stop.  It works great in low-light situations and if you park it close to anyone speaking, the audio is not that bad.  Pretty good, in fact.  You pull off the exposed 16 x 9 relatively high-def footage – a total of 2 hours’ worth of 1280 x 720 pixel goodness – through a clever attached USB arm that swings out from the top of the thing. Ergonomically, as you charge or extract video it works best lying prone next to your laptop so I used a USB extension cable to feed it into a port on my HP desktop.  Charges the internal battery the same way.

The FlipShare video management/editing software is built-in and is really easy to use.  You pull the video clips into a folder on your computer and there are simple tools for cutting it up, adding supplied music tracks and titles.  List price, $230.00  Yes, two hundred thirty dollars for a functional HD camcorder with basic editing software.

Contrast that with my first video camera purchase:  Sony Betacam BVU 400a, body only, $47,000 plus tax.  The zoom lens was an extra $8,500.00.  Each battery was $500.00, needed three, plus the similarly-priced charger.  Then the editing software:   Media 100 with capture board, no computer $17,000.00.  Mac G-4 at the time was about $2,800.00.  The expense just went on and on.  Plus the little bugger offers about twice the picture resolution as that current landfill resident.

Now this thing is not going to replace “real” shoulder-mounted HD cameras like you see at White House press conferences – yet.  But, working within the obvious limitations of the little camera one can achieve video results that are better than just “OK.”  The overall idea, I believe, is to chose and use the right tool for the job.  The little Mino HD is ideal for a cheap HD backup camera, it can grab a second angle while using the main camera and when shooting a shy or fearful subject  it’s less intimidating.

My, my, how things have changed in the old video biz.  Fortunately for me, you still need to know how to tell a story and that’s where I come in.

See you next time!

Marshall Thompson

Writer.producer.director and now, MinoHD slinger.

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