Your photos (39)
Take Better Photos

Hints and tips
by Philip Grosset

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with comments from Philip Grosset

"Hi, I live in a house on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Humboldt Bay in Northern California. Do you have any advice for me on taking pictures of people in the sun set. The picture attached of my mom and her friend turned out really bad because the sun was not to my back. Any advice? Since our house has a south west exposure the only time to take good view pictures is in the morning. I'm also attaching a picture of myself on the deck with the view in the background that I took in the morning. What went wrong besides our grass looking yellow? Also, it seams that whenever I try to take a picture in the sun I have too may shadows. Any advice on the picture of me in the blue shirt? Finally I'm attaching a picture of my truck because I don't know anything about taking pictures of things. Please look at it. I'm really into web design and I want to put a lot of pictures of myself on the internet, but I'm really not very photogenic what should I do? You can see lots more pictures of my and my problems at! Thanks." (Kacy Garstka)

Night scene cropped
Night scene
Man cropped
Man in garden
Portrait cropped
Truck cropped
Compare your photos (down the left) with my versions (down the right), and you'll see I've done the same thing each time: simply crop out the irrelevant part of each picture.
I don't think picture no.1 has turned out all that badly. It's just that you were too far away to see your subjects properly (panorama shaped pictures are not an appropriate choice for portraits!). If you don't like the evening light on their faces, use fill-in flash. As I explained on a previous page, some automatic cameras have special night mode settings that give a longer exposure with flash so as to retain more of what lighting there is in the night-time background.
The grass in picture 2 looks a bit worn but not yellow! There's too much of it in your original picture anyway. It gives a much more flattering view of the garden to move in closer. It's a pity you seem to be sinking down out of the picture - all a result, I suppose, of using the self timer, and not positioning the camera quite carefully enough! However, the problem disappears in my cropped version. I see you've already cropped the picture in just this way on your webpage!
Your portrait in 3 would be better taken in cloudy bright conditions than in bright sunshine, then the shadows would disappear. Or use a reflector (such as a large white cloth or card), held near your subject to reflect light back into the face. Not very easy to do if you are the subject, I agree! Back or side lighting usually makes a more interesting portrait than simple frontal lighting, as long as you lighten the shadows. Usually try to avoid mid-day when the sun is directly overhead.
Your truck (picture 4) looks fine to me once you get close enough! Pick an appropriate background, as I presume you have done here, that helps you communicate what you feel about it. Or was it just a happy accident that the truck happened to be there?
Good luck with your web design - but I suggest you think again about your current design that uses yellow, green and orange lettering on a distracting pebble background. It makes it very hard to read!

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