Want to take better pictures of your family?

Yechiel Orgel’s Top Ten tips for taking great portraits at home

First and foremost, it is extremely important to read the manual that comes with your camera, and really get to know your camera. If you find your manual contains too much technical jargon, you can purchase books that are written in layman’s language.

Don’t be afraid to play around with your camera.You will come away with the most beautiful pictures to cherish forever.
     1. Capture those unforgettable faces — get closer.  It’s amazing how many people take pictures with their subjects standing really far away.  When you’re too far away, you allow distractions into the picture. So when you hold that camera in your hand, take a few steps closer to the subject.  Fill the frame with your subjects’ faces.  When you think you are
close enough, SNAP. Then take one step closer and snap again. You’ll be amazed at the results. When shooting a group, get their heads close together.
     2. Be quick — especially when dealing with little kids.
     3. Compose your picture with care — learn the “Rule of Thirds.” The basic principle behind the Rule of Thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically), so that you have nine parts.With this grid in mind, the Rule of Thirds now identifies four important parts of the image in which you should consider placing points of interest as you frame your image. The theory is that if you place points of interest in the intersections or along the lines, your photo becomes more balanced and will enable a viewer of the image to
interact with it more naturally. (Just remember, rules are meant to be broken, but it’s always better to learn the rule first before you attempt to break it.)
     4. Leveling. If your children are playing on the floor, get down on the floor to shoot — be at their eye level.
     5. Metering. Shooting in a bright, sunny situation might sound compelling. However, you will encounter numerous problems with the sun hitting the subject, such as squinting or harsh shadows. If the sun is behind the subject, you may end up with a beautiful background and very dark subject.  To avoid these pitfalls, place your subject in a shady area and use flash, even if you are shooting at midday. If this is not an option, shoot with the sun behind your subject, completely fill your frame with the subject, completely fill your frame with the subject’s face while pressing the shutter button halfway down, locking in the exposure based on your
subject’s face. While still holding down the shutter button, take a couple of steps back, recomposing your shot, and then SNAP.  This will result in better detail in your subjects, and in the background detail.
     6. Be selective — know what it is that you want to take a picture of. If you are taking a picture of your daughter playing in the sand and there is a can of soda on the floor next to her,
remove it or position your child differently. That can of soda is a distraction. Keep the focus on the children, not on the surrounding elements.
     7. Focus, Focus, Focus! Learn about “shallow depth of field.” You will find that a smaller depth of field (lower F-stop number) focuses all the attention upon your subject by blurring out the background.This is great for portraits of your children. On the flip side, a “greater depth of field” (higher F-stop number) will make everything from here to eternity appear to be in focus. This is great for landscape pictures.  Using the AP (Aperture Priority) mode on the camera will
allow you to control this feature.
     8. Experiment with different shutter speeds. Do you want to get great pictures of your children romping around? Or do you want to create a sense of motion, e.g., a waterfall or a
passing car? It pays to learn about shutter priority.
     9.White balance. Shooting in the kitchen with fluorescent lighting? Your camera has an option of setting the white balance to match a particular lighting scenario. Use it! It will definitely help you avoid ugly color casts on your subjects.
     10. Weather. You’ll be amazed that photographers love cloudy, overcast days. A beautiful sun can create harsh shadows which are eliminated on an overcast day.

Info provided by Orgel Photography as featured in the Binah Magazine, Lag Ba'Omer Edition אייר תש'ע.