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Leveling out your Photography

Learn how to become a better photographer.

Steve Smith, host of your TQA Weekly, explains how to take better photos, offers tips and tricks on lighting, and talks about how to use levels within a graphic editor to fix lighting issues within your photos afterward.

Episode #2-12 released on December 5, 2011

Welcome to TQA Weekly. For those who don't know who I am, I'm Steve Smith, aka Zed Axis, and yes you can call me that. Today, I'll explain what makes pictures too dark, or too bright. How to fix what your doing wrong before taking the photos, and how to fix it after with a computer.

Let's start off with some great news, as of 8 AM Eastern, today, December 4, 2011, tqaweekly.com will be finally open to the general public. Want to share your questions, comments, suggestions or stories, tqaweekly.com. Want to participate in my weekly survey, tqaweekly.com. Want to subscribe to my weekly newsletter, tqaweekly.com. Need more information about an episode? Want to support us by getting your very own tqa weekly gear? Want to subscribe to our show? All you need to remember is the address, tqaweekly.com.

Today's topic is a subject I know a lot about. It was my official major in college, and its something I still do a lot of, even to this day, photography. A lot of us take pictures, very few know about lighting. I'll start with some tips on making better pictures, dealing with lighting, and how to position your subject in the photo.

There is a good and a bad way to position a subject within the photo. I'm just going to explain the good ways to keep this episode short. One, be as close to your subject as you possibly can, avoid the zoom, if at all possible. Don't use the flash unless absolutely necessary, and never within just a few inches of the subject. Don't crop the tops off heads, or at any joint on a limb, you want people to realize the person has a whole arm, or leg.

Use a lot of lighting, use less of flash. Diffuse the lighting if it is too bright. You can do this by using bigger lights, or placing a semi opaque sheet of paper in front of the lights, you can also use reflectors, all this you can purchase in a photography store. If you have to use a flash, don't use the small flashes on cameras if you can use another add-on flash. Bigger flashes diffuse light better over your subject, and you also purchase a diffuser to put on top of professional portable flash kits.

Don't use digital zoom, just don't. I don't recommend to use an optical zoom if you can get close to the subject. The further your from your subject, the shakier the photo is going to look, and the more you'll need a flash. Remember, avoid using flash unless absolutely necessary.

Now, you took a picture, and it looks too bright, or too dark, let me show you on my screen a photo of what levels look like in a graphic editor. This can be access in a lot of photo editors, normally under the color menu, and its normally named levels. Let's level out your photography.

Levels can be edited by color channel, or by all colors in one movement. Correcting by color channel is more accurate, but the overall idea is the same. The white and black arrow needs to be at each end of the graph, touching each of the ends of the level. If there is any space on either side between the edges of the graph and the level graphic, then drag the closest arrow to the edge of the level graphic to correct the lighting in the photo. You can do this by channel, or do this using the default overall method.

You may find depending on your photo, that it needs a little adjustment, play with the gray arrow in the middle to correct the mid-tones, just remember using individual color channels, may by easier and more accurate.

So, what have we learned today? Light your subject, diffuse bright lights, use less flash or diffuse the flash. Use less zoom, and get closer to your subject. Don't crop off the top of the subjects head off, or crop the limbs at the joints. And, even if you mess up a little bit the photos, it is still easily fixed using levels in a photo editor.

Next week, I'll explain how to create your own newsletter, what you need to do to get it running, and how to attract readers. If you want to send me your questions, comments, suggestions, stories head over to tqaweekly.com. If you want to join my weekly newsletter, need more information about an episode, want to subscribe to our and what to see you options, or you just want to help us out by getting your very own TQA Weekly gear and apparel, come over to tqaweekly.com.

Have a great day, stay safe and online.

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions