June 27th, 2016

Photography tips

photographer-16022_640Here’s a confession: I am obsessed with taking photographs. Whether it’s a cute moment, a pretty scene, or even just a dinner I’m particularly proud of, I always pull out my camera or phone and snap a picture.

Now there’s nothing more frustrating than taking a picture and it not turning it out. It could be too dark, blurry, or simply just look a little off. Here are some of my strategies for taking the best photos:

1 – Know your light. Lighting is one of the most important parts of photography and it can really make or break the quality of your photo. I’ve always found that natural light yields the best results. The best time of day to take photos is the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. This is called “golden hour” and it produces the most flattering lighting, especially if you’re taking a portrait of yourself or somebody else. The position of the sun during this time of day creates a warm and glowing golden light that can make just about anything look good.

But what if you want to take a picture at night or during a time when light is less than optimal? Fake it! The flash on a camera can often be too harsh on your subject, but you can use the flashlight feature on your cellphone to brighten up the subject without washing them out too much. When a camera doesn’t have enough light to work with, the pictures often come out blurry or grainy. So make sure you always pay attention to your light source!

2 – Take a lot of photographs. Say you’re photographing your child’s softball game or another sporting event, it’s often necessary to take many photos in order to get a few good ones. The trick is to do it quickly, so you don’t miss out on actually watching the game. If you worry too much about every photo being perfect, you may end up paying more attention to your camera than what you’re trying to take a picture of. So if you quickly snap a lot of photos, chances are you’ll get a couple of great ones and you can weed out the bad ones later on.

3 – Edit your photos. Sometimes you take a photo that is so beautiful that you don’t have to do anything else to it, but that’s often not the case. Almost every photo needs to be tweaked in some way in order for it to be the best version of itself. There is computer software you can use to do this, such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom. But if you want to take pictures without investing too much into the editing software, there are a number of great free apps you can use.

I recommend VSCO and Afterlight. Both are free apps that can be downloaded to your device and you can use them to enhance your photos. Your photo’s too dark? You can use the “exposure” or “brightness” tools to help brighten it up. Your photo’s blurry? Use the “sharpening” or “clarify” tools!

Both of these apps also have free filters you can use on your photos. A filter will adjust all of the aforementioned settings, as well as color, contrast, etc. Filters can be used to make a photo look beautifully natural or otherworldly and surreal. It all depends on which filter you use and what you want from the photo!

Cecil County Public Library also has tools that can help you in being the best photographer you can be! We offer Gale Courses in such subjects as “Secrets of Better Photography” and “Photographing Nature with Your Digital Camera.” Gale Courses are free six week online classes that are taught by actual professors and new sessions begin monthly.  These are great for both beginners and people who simply want to learn about more about photography!

Remember, you don’t need a fancy camera or expensive software to take great photos. Use these tips and start collecting memories!

What’s your favorite tip for beginning photographers?


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May 30th, 2016

Summer Reading

2016_SR_sticker_reminder_finalSummer Reading is almost here! The Cecil County Public Library 2016 Summer Reading and Learning Program begins June 1 with kick-off events Saturday, June 4. It’s a fun, free, and educational way to stay academically engaged all summer long, and encourages children, as well as teens and adults, to read and explore topics they are interested in. (Note, “Read to Me” where participants tracked the number of books, is now part of the Kids Summer Reading program and all logs are completed by tracking time spent reading.)

If you’re like me, you know that students who do not participate in reading or educational activities began to “slide” further and further behind their peers and that each year of falling behind could lead to a student’s low academic achievement or dropping out of school. Summer reading is important because it helps combat this slide. Simply reading 4-5 books over the course of the summer may be powerful enough to prevent a decline in reading achievement skills.

Here are some quick tips to try this summer to keep the children and teens in your life reading, active and engaged all summer long:

-Visit the library. Check out books and participate in educational and fun programming.
-Let your kids and teens choose! Any kind of reading can help kids sustain or improve skills.
-Read every day.
-Ask questions about what they’re reading! Start a conversation and kids and teens can practice comprehension skills by talking about what they’re reading.
-Connect what they’re reading to activities. Going to the zoo? Read Life-Size Zoo by Teruyuki Komiya. Planning a picnic? Check-out Picnic by Emily McCully. You can also ask a librarian for crafts, recipes, and activities that can be done with your child based on the book they are reading.
-Bring books with you wherever you go. Whether you are waiting for an appointment or stuck in a traffic jam, reading books is a great way to pass the time.
-Don’t forget to write. Writing improves reading skills. Encourage your child to keep a journal, compose a story, or write a poem.
-Practice math and science skills at the library too! Check out topic-specific books and sign your kids up for our science-themed programming throughout the summer!

Stop in at any branch to learn more about the full list of summer events or to register for summer reading, which begins June 1 for all ages. Sign up at any branch or online:
www.cecil.ebranch.info/adults/summer-reading-programs/

What is your favorite summer read?


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