The other day, before a course I taught, here’s a friend and student holding out his glass of Merlot – no, it was not a Merlot, it was an Italian red:

Bruce holding glass

Isn’t that a nice shot?

So here are a few notes, numbered for your convenience, to help you take the same.

    1. As I point out time and time again, a shot that “makes the viewer put it together” is often great.
    2. A blurry person is often also appreciated by… the person, if they are shy. When people (ladies and teenagers, often!) say a panicked “no pictures”, try this.
    3. I used a 16-35 mm lens set to 30mm on a full frame camera, set to f/2.8.  On a crop camera, you could use a 24mm prime lens, for example. On my 1Ds I could also have used the 35mm prime. This would have been my favourite lens for this shot.
    4. The wide angle gives you those wonderful converging lines.
    5. The wide open aperture of f/2.8 enabled me to shoot at 1/15th of a second using available light – at 3200 ISO.
    6. The blur also gives me a simple image with no distractions.
    7. It is very important that the lens is wide open. Look at the out-of-focus lights. They are circles. If the lens had been partly stopped down (to f/3.2, or f/4, say) you would have seen octagons or hexagons instead of circles.
    8. And yes, you can shoot at 3200 ISO with a good camera. Point-and-shoots will not do this, even with Lightroom noise reduction.
    9. That speed of 1/15th second is still a bit slow. You could easily get motion blur. So I took 3 or 4 pictures, of which this one was razor sharp.
    10. I focused carefully, using one focus point, on the glass.
    11. I had the subject move his glass forward, and I moved as close as the camera would let me focus. This makes the background go blurrier.
    12. Finally, I had to get the white balance right in post. This is very important with available light shots, which can otherwise take on an orange/yellow cast.

      A little work – some thought goes into even a simple snap. But do it, think, and you get nice shots where you would not have expected them. And that is what sets you apart from Uncle Fred.

      3 thoughts on “Cheers.

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