Thursday, March 27, 2014

Photo Self Timer Tips - Ready or Not

The 2013 word of the year was selfie. For the most part, this refers to photos taken of yourself while holding a cell phone or digital camera at arm's length. Easy. There are rules, hints and tips for taking good selfies. I could not find similar tips for using a camera timer so I decided to share my helpful advice and expertise for taking good timed photos. I recently traveled alone and my options were to trust random strangers to take pictures, or take my own photos in all types of weather, light, and landscape conditions. I am quite proud of my work. Here are my tips for taking perfect timer pictures just as I recently have.

Hint #1- Gulliver's Travels view

When you place your camera on a pier, you're never quite certain how far back you need to stand to be included in the landscape photo. Besides that, the camera sometimes vibrates, or succumbs to gusts of wind and those are big, hazardous, cracks in the dock. Place camera on one of the wider slats, set your timer for ten seconds, run a few feet away without vibrating aforementioned slats, turn around and bend over to get yourself into the optimal picture position.

Hint #2 - The Framed Shot

I've heard it said that you should frame a shot. If you are unclear as to what that means, a good way to perform this task easily is to point the camera, timer on, in the direction of your intended scene. Then, stand in front and use whichever body parts best emphasize your desired picture. What better way to save time, effort and expense later, than to perform this framing task in advance? If you are unsuccessful, after several attempts, you can always get a cheap frame from the dollar store once you're back home.

Hint #3 - The Sky's The Limit    

The hood of a car is the perfect place to put your camera if you want a photo of yourself high in the clouds. This will not necessarily be your most flattering angle, particularly if the camera is leaning against the windshield. Also, should the camera shift in mid shot because of gale force wind or natural disasters, you might wind up with buildings protruding through some body parts. This of course will ruin your intended illusion.

Hint #4 -  It's All In Your Perspective                                                                                                           
If you want to include several landmarks, or beer bottles in your picture, it's important to find a stable place to put your camera. In this case, I located large tables in both instances. The one on the left held not only the camera, but my backpack. On the right, again, an assortment of things. I feel that adding this additional "stuff" (backpack straps, table top, bottle, umbrella pole) to the pictures gives them some added realism, contrast, and perspective thus making them look less like vacation bragging type photos.

Hint #5 - Bigfoot Was Here                                                                                                                         

Know that your face doesn't have to be in every picture. Sometimes, if you want a shot of an interesting statue or landmark, just set your timer on two seconds, then take a step away from the camera. This will still provide proof that you were "there" while at the same time, guaranteeing the safety of your device should you be visiting a less desirable area of town.  The second photo is from the statue's perspective. Don't forget that this can add some depth to your portfolio...same legs this time seen from the point of view of the sculpture. 

Hint # 6 - Water Hazards                                                                                                                            

Be sure to check the landscape very carefully before attempting a timed photo near water. Look where you are going, do not back away from your camera in fear that the timer will go off before you're ready.  If it does, it will be a lovely shot of you looking off over the water rather than a shot of you potentially in the water. In photo two, the terrain was even more rugged with coral, lava, shells and beer bottles. In that case, I walked toward my intended spot and scoped out the distance first. When it came time for the picture, I went back to the same spot, whipped my body around against the trade winds, and after the giant wave receded, I heard the familiar click                                                                                                                        
Hint #7 - Stay Positive Through Failure                                                                                                         
Sometimes, our timed photos are unsuccessful and boring. What's worse than a picture of  greenery, a rock wall, a person and a few pillars? If this happens to you, stay positive, follow my previous hints and try, try again.

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