October 1999 • AE-2

To Create a Photograph
Good pictures don’t happen by accident. You make them. Although making the correct technical decisions, such as exposure and focusing, are important, more and more these decisions are being made by automatic cameras. The soul of a photograph springs from the artistic decisions you make. You choose the subject, you arrange the composition, you select the viewpoint, and you decide if the lighting is appropriate. How well you do these things determines the success of your photos. This publication will guide you in making the right creative decisions; it will help you make outstanding photographs. And at the conclusion you’ll find a troubleshooting section for those few times when something technical goes wrong.

She walks in beauty like the night Of cloudless climes and starry skies... Why do you photograph something? Admittedly sometimes out of habit, but usually because you are stirred by the subject before you. Lord Byron didn’t write those lines (from the poem “She Walks in Beauty”) just because he had a quill in his hand. Photograph those things that interest you. Try to express yourself. With your camera you can make a statement, a story, a pun, or even a poem. Use expressive colors, subjects, places, and people to arouse happiness, sadness, or loneliness in your viewers. Make them feel what you were experiencing when you took the photograph. And if you want people to respond to your photography, consider what their responses might be. Will they be surprised, amused, or perhaps baffled? Strive to make the intent of your photographs clear by using the tips just discussed.

Some photographers look through a viewfinder and start backing away from the subject. Don’t. Getting close to your subject can’t be stressed enough. It is probably the most important technique a photographer can use. It clearly and unambiguously reveals the subject. It boldly states, “This is the subject.” To emphasize the subject, you should move close enough so that it fills half or more of the picture area. Do this by physically moving closer or by using a telephoto lens. Getting close eliminates distracting elements from your picture and displays the shapes, colors, and textures of the subject. Naturally you should not place the camera closer to the subject than the minimum focusing distance of your camera.

A galloping horse. A scrambling quarterback. A wobbling, teetering, and oh-so-briefly-upright-on-roller-skates child. Action is all around us. We live in a world busy with moving subjects. Photograph them. Action invigorates. It animates. And it entertains. You can show action sharp or blurred. Since most people like their pictures to be sharp, we’ll discuss that first. To get sharp action shots, use a fast shutter speed, such as 1/500 second, to stop all but the fastest action. A high-speed film, such as KODAK MAX 400, KODAK MAX Zoom 800, or KODAK ROYAL GOLD 1000 Film, will make it easier to obtain fast shutter speeds, even with some snapshot cameras. When you can’t use a fast shutter speed, position yourself so that the action moves directly toward or away from you. Or take the picture at the moment of peak action—when a halfback reverses field or a springboard diver reaches the height of his leap and pauses momentarily before plunging. At the peak, movement is so slight that even a slow shutter speed will stop it.

Simple scenes facilitate composition and clarify the purpose of the photo. Concentrate on showing one subject or one idea at a time. Before you squeeze the shutter release, inspect the scene in the viewfinder. Examine every part of the picture for distracting intrusions, because your camera lens will catch all that is in the viewfinder. Eliminate these distractions; use a new viewpoint or find a plain background, such as blue sky or a lawn. You might try blurring the background by using a wide lens opening, such as f/2.8. You can often make a background out of focus by moving in close to your subject.

©Eastman Kodak Company, 1999

not directly into the light. Photographing action takes thought and patience. such as KODAK MAX Zoom Film. Assure your subject that he or she looks good. or a mother’s comforting hug after a scraped knee. Look at the light you are photographing. or old hat—may put a child at ease and often brings out the “ham. choose a viewpoint and time of day that gives sidelighting. Experiment with backlighting the subject for dramatic results. This involves picture-taking in dim lighting without a flash. Get him or her to relax. opinions? Then ask yourself what specifically defines the person before you. GET PEOPLE TO RESPOND What’s the most popular photographic subject? People. Keep your subject in familiar surroundings. use flash. Unpredictable. If you are photographing a guitar player. knowing that each time the scene would be different because the lighting was different. you take the picture as you move the camera to track the subject. to stop their quick actions. indoors. and a sense of pride. Each year in the United States alone. Zany? Serious? Grump? Car buff? Antique collector? Use these traits to express personality. Come back fresh another day. In panning. and a lens with an f/ 2. he plucked a stogie from Churchill’s mouth and simultaneously released the shutter—just in time to catch that famous glare and furrowed brow. 2 To Create a Photograph • AE-2 . Use existing light. Photographer Scott Griswold once sat in front of a partially submerged stump in New Hampshire for four hours waiting for the right light.” Outdoors.8 or larger aperture. Do not try to impose your will. family. Canadian photographer Yosuf Karsh immortalized the bulldog trait we associate with Winston Churchill. If you are photographing a gardener. show her with her guitar. carnival rides. LOOK FOR DRAMATIC LIGHTING Professional photographers cherish light. Press the shutter release just before the climactic moment occurs. revealing character and personality requires insight. Prolonging the session will only frustrate the child and you. side. To emphasize a textured surface. and often reluctant. If you want to make a portrait. There are other ways to get people to respond. When the child tires or becomes disinterested. For example. to forget the camera. Ansel Adams would repeatedly return to the same scenes over a period of years. show a child learning to ride a bicycle with dad’s helping hand on the back of the seat. Create a silhouette by using a background that is brighter than the subject. show him with his favorite flowers. The subject comes out fairly sharp but the background is blurred. Children are another story. impatient. place your subject next to a window or in the shade.” Photographing children with parents portrays relationships that are loving and strong. use medium. quit. Ask yourself what defines people in general. depending on how fast the subject is. They know that how a scene appears depends largely on how it is lit. place the subject by a window or an open door. Stoop to the child’s level. A simple prop—a balloon. so you’ll just have to experiment and hope for the best. Move around and study the effects caused by the direction (front.” Let’s toss the cheese and give the birdie a rest. indoors and out. you may not know what shutter speed is being used (refer to your manual). or fireworks. An eye-level view better reveals facial features and shows the importance of the child as an individual.With a slow shutter speed you can pan the camera to instill a sense of movement.or high-speed film. where soft light (not direct sunlight) will flatter the sitter’s appearance. Obtaining a likeness of somebody is fairly simple. Standing and shooting down at a small child often pictorially imparts the meaning of the expression “looking down on him. You can capture the feeling of security and affection. or 1/125 second. Use a shutter speed of 1/30. such as KODAK GOLD 200 or MAX 400 Film. You will need a high-speed film. they’ll test your skills. During a brief portrait session. neon signs. 1/60. Their hobbies? Their work? Their possessions. Take plenty of pictures to be sure of capturing that momentary perfect expression—and to avoid getting stuck with eyes closed during a blink. Try some nighttime shots of city streets. or shoot toward the bright sky or sun. back) of the light. Patience and good nature will take you a long way. ball. photographers take enough pictures of people to form a sidewalk around the world—a sidewalk of faces frozen in expressions of “Say cheese” or “Watch the birdie. When you use slow shutter speeds. With one bold move. Note the color— the gold of sunrise or the blues and violets of twilight. Give them something to do and let them move around. Have your subject face the incoming light and aim at the subject. Keep the session relaxed. Try several different poses to emphasize attractive features. With nonadjustable cameras. In Yosemite National Park. brace your camera on something solid or use a tripod. Learn to anticipate what will happen. For example.

” WHAT WENT WRONG Problem Cause Unexposed film sent for processing Lens cap left on Shutter didn’t open 35 mm camera: did not load film properly Picture blurred a.” A few people have the creative ability to compose a photograph quickly. Solution Sorry. Divide your scene into an imaginary grid. Try following these guidelines to improve your compositions: 1. Use strong lines and shapes. Place the main subject near one of the intersections. Use higher shutter speed and faster film. Use flash. 3. If OK. 2. When photographing a road. The frame can be slightly out of focus to give a feeling of depth. But most of us must work hard and keep experimenting until we get it right. If OK. Review manual to check setting and metering procedures. Keep fingers and camera strap away from lens. camera may need service. Fuzzy background and subject Camera movement Dirty lens Out of focus Squeeze shutter release gently. No picture b. camera may need service. or stream. Good composition is the most effective way of showing your subject. You’ll know the composition is right when it has what Cartier-Bresson called “its own inevitability about it. Rules of composition are not absolute. Remove lens cap. Check camera or flash manual for correct distances. They attract and entertain the eye. or something unusual like a pipe or the rails of a fence. Rewind film fully before opening camera back. Wait for flash ready light to glow. Edward Weston called it “the strongest way of seeing. because that’s one position that lives up to its name. Use focus lock or center subject within autofocus marks. Use correct setting. Add interest by framing your scenes with a tree branch. Kneel or lie on the ground to show tulips towering like trees or a toddler looming like a giant. Use the rule of thirds. Shoot from a high angle (a porch or a second-story window of a house) to reveal intriguing patterns not apparent from other angles. Make sure camera back closes tightly. This leads the viewer’s eye into the photograph and right to the subject. Check battery. Clean lens. Improper focusing or too close to subject—review camera manual for focusing. The point is to move your subject away from dead center. Reposition yourself so that subject moves toward camera. make sure it runs into the picture and towards the subject. 4.COMPOSE WITH CARE Carefully composing your picture will mean the difference between a boring photograph and an attractive one. Make sure to engage both rows of sprocket holes when loading film. Check camera or flash manual for correct distance. Experiment with the viewpoint. Load and unload film in subdued light. Fuzzy subject only Subject movement Autofocus camera: subject outside autofocus marks Wrong film-speed setting Picture too light Wrong aperture or shutter-speed setting Flash too close to subject Wrong film-speed setting Wrong aperture or shutter-speed setting Picture too dark Flash too far from subject or not yet fully charged Exposure meter broken Not enough light for simple camera Light streaks or fogging Stray light struck film Obstruction Object blocking lens To Create a Photograph • AE-2 3 . Use higher shutter speed. Have dealer check camera. Review manual to check setting and metering procedures. Be sure film is exposed before sending in for processing. fence. Use correct setting. a window.

Replace weak batteries. see manual. Minor Revision 10-99 Printed in U. Wait until flash ready light glows before taking photo.A. Max. Arrange main subjects so that all are at about the same distance from flash.S.To Create a Photograph Problem Flash photos a. Typical flash shutter speed for 35 mm SLR camera is 1/60 sec. See manual for correct distance range. and Royal are trademarks. c. . Red eyes e. Photos too dark Cause Solution Used incorrect shutter speed for 35 mm SLR camera Flash did not fire Too far from subject Wrong film-speed setting Review manual. Have subject look away from lens. Set correct film speed on flash or camera. Glare spots f. See manual for flash distance. 35 mm SLR cameras: used wrong aperture Set correct aperture as indicated by flash or manual. Gold. NY 14650 Consumer Imaging To Create a Photograph KODAK Publication No. Turn on all room lights. EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY • ROCHESTER. Exclude shiny background. Set correct film speed on flash or camera. Partial flash b. Shoot at angle to shiny background. AE-2 Kodak. see manual. Photos too light Too close to subject Film-speed setting wrong d. Uneven exposure Subject looking directly at camera Flash reflected from shiny background Subjects at uneven distances from flash 35 mm SLR cameras: used wrong aperture Set correct aperture as indicated by flash or manual.

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