Friday, January 11, 2013

Photography and Dancing

Friedrich Nietzsche said,  "We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once."

One of my strongest childhood memories is watching my parents getting ready Saturday night for dancing. My father put in long six-day weeks running his own business and my mother, who worked in retail,  finished her week on Saturday after working an extra long day Friday. 

Yet no matter how weary, once the ritual began they were revived and ready to go.

Seeing them on the dance floor was always a treat too.  Dad was one smooth dude. When Mom saw my father for the first time, he was dancing at her sister's engagement party. She was, she says, instantly smitten. Later together they became well known at the area halls for their grace and technique on the floor.  I still meet older people today from my hometown who will comment on how nice it was to watch my parents dancing.  It was their passion and it showed.

While they may have passed that passion on to me,  a revolution hit and rather than a waltz, foxtrot or schottische, I found myself doing the watusi, frug and swim. Often with girls, as guys suddenly seemed more content to patrol the perimeter of the dance floor. And 'slow dancing' amounted to what was essentially a walk, snuggled with a partner.  My only salvation came at family parties when I had the chance to dance with my father and brother.

Now, at 92 and 89 Mom's and Dad's dancing days are done.  I still see them though, him in control, her responding,  as smooth on the floor as swans on water.  It was a beautiful thing.

So today I include some photos to salute an art form it would be good for us all to do every day, no matter how bad at it we are, no matter where we are: Dancing Photos

Acclaim Images Dancing

Lois Greenfield Photography Dance Gallery

Dancers Among Us Photos

PBase Andrew Carpenter Ballroom Competition Galleries

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Taking Great Portrait Photos

When our daughter was married a few years ago, the photographer she hired was noted for his wonderful candid shots. With a weekend destination wedding planned, having someone on scene who was able to be in the moment when that moment happened,  seemed sensible.

As it is with sports and action photography being at the right place at the right time with the camera ready is not a talent every photographer possesses. And there was no question when the results were finally shown that this guy had that talent — in spades. His candid shots were amazing.

What was interesting, though, was the quality of his portraits.  It was fascinating to me that while he was right there ready when one of the guests capsized a canoe,  and caught it in perfect focus and exposure, frame by frame,  he couldn't quite capture the same perfection in a posed photo of individuals or groups. Though the technical aspects of photography were perfect in his formal shots, the poses and little details that can improve a portrait were only a few steps above what an amateur might achieve.

It proved to me that being a great portrait photographer can be as elusive to some as getting action-packed shots is to others.  As anyone who's tried to get their family together looking composed, but not too much so, will know,  finding a way to set people up without having them look stiff and formal isn't easy.

These informative sites with tips for perfect portraiture that I found may be some help:

DPS 10 Ways to Take Stunning Portraits

Webdesigner Depot How to Take Excellent Portrait Photos

PictureCorrect How to Take Great Portraits

Nikon How to Take Great Portraits

Moose's Camera Tips Great Portraits With the CanonT2i

iMore Great Portraits with Your IPhone Camera

Photoshelter Brian Smith's Secreate of Great Portrait Photography

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Taking Great Sports and Action Photos

One of the interesting aspects about being an editor at a small-town community newspaper, I discovered, was that you have to know a little bit about a lot of things.

I spent over two decades covering the goings-on of my local area. While my interests may have been in the arts, and we fortunately lived in close proximity to both the Blyth and Stratford Festivals,  I also found myself at cattle shows, political meetings and sports venues.  Immersion is an excellent teacher, of course, and through time I was comfortable writing news articles on any of these subjects.

Photography, on the other hand, was a different picture, at least with sports events. Grip and grin I could handle with ease. Setting up a shot to tell a story was something my creative mind enjoyed, But being at the right place at the right time to get that split-second moment was generally elusive.

Having entered the job with a basic understanding of a camera, it was a challenge to cover that fast-paced world and come away, not only with a shot that wasn't over-exposed, under-exposed, or blurry, but action packed. Knowing where the play would be, having the camera focused with the shutter and F-stop set properly took knowledge and experience. Thankfully the latter eventually saved me from spending too much time in the darkroom.

Then we got digital cameras and the game began all over again.

The thing is, you don't need to be a sports fan to recognize a great sports photograph. They bring you to the thrill of the game. You feel the tension and excitement. Actually being behind the lens to take one must be an incredible feeling.

Here are some links that should help you and your camera get in the game:

photo.tutsplus Tips for Taking Sports Photos Like a Pro

Samsung Take Great Sport Photos Sports Photography

DigitalPhotoSecrets How to Take Photos of Fast Moving Sports

Photo Technique Action and Sports Photography

DPS An Introduction to Sports Photography

The Globe and Mail How to Take Great Sports Photographs

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hockey Photos Celebrate Canada's Game

I live in the Great White North, a country that knows cold and snow, though perhaps not as much as our neighbours to the south tend to think.  We do like back bacon (among lots of other things). We make great beer (but  lovely wines too). And we do love our hockey (end of story).

So it is this week that fans rejoice as the end of the National Hockey League lockout has been announced. With some final steps to take,  folks are eagerly awaiting the schedule and drop of that first puck.

Understand, my use of 'we' was editorial regarding this nation's favourite pastime. I did love hockey in the day of the NHL's Original Six — Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Black Hawks.  Saturday night was hockey night and  I curled up on the floor in front of the TV to watch the Leafs take on their opponent.

My uncle and I had an ongoing bet —  I cheered for Toronto and he rooted for everyone else. Though I suspect, being as I was just a kid,  it was to let me have my team.  And  back then those Leafs weren't just a passion for me, but also a force to be reckoned with. My stash of quarters grew steadily until the Stanley Cup playoffs when financially I generally did quite well with the upped silver dollar stake.

Then expansion came, the Leafs floundered winning their last Cup in 1967,  and at the age of 13  my interests were broadening. Sure, later watching boyfriends play and eventually my own sons took me back to the game, but I never quite felt the same about the NHL.

However, I am a proud Canuck. Seeing a Canadian team on ice at world events still gets me fired up and a favourite movie is Mystery Alaska which is all about hockey at its most basic. Guess, there's no fighting what's in the blood.

So here's a photo salute to, and some commentary about, our game from the land of the glorious and free:

Hockey Canada Images

Acclaim Images Hockey Photos Hockey Photos

Red Light Hockey's the Most Photogenic of Sports

Vancouver Sun Canucks Photo Named Best by Sports Illustrated

Monday, January 7, 2013

Collections of Images of Children Playing and Having Fun

It had been one of those winter days that makes you think of snuggling up with a good book and cup of cocoa. Having headed outside for a bit of fresh air in the morning, I was content for the remainder of the day to pass the time in cozy comfort inside.

Then as dusk began its gentle fall, a wonderful winter picture was exposed to me, framed through my kitchen window. A soft but persistent snow, the kind that's heavy with moisture and perfect for packing, had transformed our outside world into a very a pretty place indeed.

And taking full advantage were our neighbour children, who, with help from Mom, were putting the finishing touches on an elaborate snow fort. Imposing in size and ambitious in design, illuminated impressively by a dusk to dawn light at the end of the drive,  it stood as a monument to childhood and to the pleasures found in the simple things.  It was a nice reminder too, that it's not all about video games, YouTube and computers for kids today.

Here are some collections of images showing there are still many good old ways for youngsters to have fun: Children at Play Illustrations

Acclaim Images Children Play Collection

ClipartGuide Children Playing Collection

TOONClipart Children Having Fun