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Tips on Taking & Preserving Videos

Parent Tips > Photographers & Digital Media > Tips on Taking & Preserving Videos

Five Tips for Fabulous Photos


Submitted By: Roe Anne White, Photographer

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Every now and then you get a spectacular picture of your child. Want to do it on a more regular basis? Here are some tips to help you take great photos all of the time.


Get up close and personal. Don't be shy about taking close up shots by using a longer lens or stepping closer to your darling. In most cases you don't care nearly as much about the background as your child so make him or her the biggest thing in your picture.



Keep your child's attention span in mind and be prepared to take a break. Of course, the younger they are, the shorter it is. When they've had it with you and your camera, take time to play a game with them or let them run around for a few minutes. Keep the mood upbeat and don't nag your child(ren) to always smile. The pouty, serious and goofy pictures are wonderful to have when your child is all grown up. It is also helpful to have a favorite snack ready to pull out and, if you're not above bribery, use it.


Make sure there are no harsh shadows on a child's face unless you're going for a dramatic effect. You may either have his or her face in full sun (avoid having them face directly at the sun or you'll have squinty eyes) or in full shade. Overcast days are best as they provide a soft, even light. Your best option is to have your child's face is in full shade. Being under a tree, an awning or an umbrella all work well.


Insure that the faces are the focal point of the picture. To do so, choose a low aperture, if your camera gives you the option (f4 for one person, f5.6-f8 for two or three people who are close together). Your aperture controls the depth of field and, therefore, how much of your photo is in focus. Also, have sufficient distance to your background and focus on your subject's eyes. If you have interchangeable lenses, choose a 105 millimeter lens or one that is even longer. This will enhance the effect, allow you to get close without being on top of your subject and create an intimate image.


Keep a smile on your face. Enjoy the experience of capturing memorable moments in your child's life, and they will too ... well, at least most of the time. There does come an age when there is nothing you can do to gain cooperation. Don't worry! You'll love those pictures too when they grow up because you have captured their essence at every age.


Check list of things for you to keep in mind:
1. Get up close and personal
2. Take a break and play or enjoy a snack with your child
3. Avoid harsh shadows on the face
4. Make your child's face the focal point of your photographs
5. Enjoy!


If all else fails, call in a professional.

Convert Your VHS Tape - It is going the way of the dinosaur!

Convert Your VHS Tape - It is going the way of the dinosaur!

--submitted by Mike Shinn, MS Computing, 805.637.5469

With TiVo and other DVRs, we're seeing VCRs tossed in favor of clearer pictures and 30-second advance. For new movies, the clear choice is DVD. But in the digital age, it's our old VHS and 8mm tapes that are easy to forget. Birthdays, holidays and other home movies that were recorded over the years are put into closets across the country to be watched another day. Unfortunately, most people don't account for the slow deterioration of these old tapes. VHS tapes are especially susceptible to damage by moisture in the air. With a particularly wet winter in addition to the usual ocean-breeze that we enjoy in Santa Barbara, the quality of our home movies is on a rapid decline. Viewing these tapes only speeds up the problem. Even viewing videos in a VCR with clean heads, the quality will decrease – and few people with VCRs ever get the heads cleaned.

It is easy to replace our VHS video collection with DVDs. Home movies aren't as easily replaced. There's not much that can be done to improve the quality of a VHS tape once it has begun to deteriorate. For this reason, it's important to preserve your valuable tapes on a reliable format.

DVDs have an estimated shelf life of 100 years - a significant difference from the 2-10 years that one might expect from video tape. What's more, DVDs are portable, easy to store and relatively easy to duplicate. They allow us to watch our home movies and skip through them like the chapters of purchased DVD movies without worry of a decline in video quality. DVDs don't have any moving parts that can be damaged with use. Assuming that they are stored in a safe place where they will not be scratched, your home movies can be watched again and again. We can also expect that DVDs will continue to be used with the next video format as well.

For all of these reasons, there is no time like the present to convert your home movies to DVD. Each day that goes by means a decrease in quality. Having your home movies converted means more room in your closet, a chance to share your movies with other family members and, most importantly, the preservation of the memories you took the time to capture on tape.

Mike Shinn is a resident of Santa Barbara. Since 1994, Mike has worked as a videographer and documentary film maker. In 2004, Mike began converting video collections to DVD and continues now to help others preserve their memories digitally.

Taking Photos of Your Child

--courtesy of Kristina Azab Photography
For baby photos, the natural light from a window is the best lighting you can possibly get at home. On-camera flash usually looks unnatural. Natural light will give you a softer effect. Bring in as much light from a window as possible, but watch for too bright sun or shadows. The best lighting will come from a window with soft shades or gauzy curtains. Use a white or light colored sheet or blanket and lay your baby on it as close to the window as you can get.

Set your camera on its automatic setting or experiment with different shutter speeds and apertures. For a grainy look, pick a higher speed film. The higher the speed, the more grain you will see. If you want a crisp look, keep your film speed in the 200 range. You can experiment with soft filters which you can buy at a camera store. Shoot as much as you can, because babies move around so much. Try close-ups of hands and feet and all the cute little body parts that change so fast. Shoot some black and white film as well as color. Most importantly, have fun!

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