Photography is equal parts science and art, with skills and vision playing crucial roles in the final results. Whether you are content with an amateur’s level of photographic skills or you aspire to be the next Ansel Adams, these tips will take you one step further in understanding the process.
Play with the shutter speed setting to get shots of both slow and fast-moving subjects. Slow shutter speeds are great for objects that move very slowly, such as streams. Fast shutter speeds, on the other hand, allow you to get a clear shot of a subject that is moving very quickly, such as a race car.
Play with the aperture settings. Take a number of photos of the same subject with different settings to see how it affects the look of the final photo. Bigger f-stops allow you to get an entire landscape in focus, while a smaller f-stop will draw attention only to the center of your frame.
Use a tripod for maximum camera stability. For random shots of your kids or buildings, a bit of camera shake isn’t a big deal, but for once-in-a-lifetime shots that really matter, a bit of camera shake can ruin a perfect memory. If a tripod is not available, try setting the camera on a flat surface.
If you want to take high quality portraits, do not rely on your camera’s built in flash. Instead you want to look at investing in a softbox to use for external lighting. If you can’t afford this, look into purchasing an external flash unit with a diffuser for your camera.
When photographing portraits, isolate your subject. Use a medium telephoto lens or the medium telephoto setting on your zoom. That, combined with a large aperture (try f/4 or larger), blurs the foreground and background. Focus on the eyes. Use diffused lighting for a flattering look. If outdoors, wait for an overcast sky or shoot with the subject in the shadows and the sun at your back.
The key to taking good photographs is to always remember that lighting is the most important thing. Think about lighting all the time. It does not matter what the source of the lighting is, but it is the elemental part of any photograph. Use the sun, a streetlight, a spotlight or even the computer screen to capture any light and make a great photograph.
Do not forget to take pictures of yourself. You can still compose the background and choose how you want to use light and colors. Give instructions to a friend and look at the preview before you go pause. These pictures will be nice memories when you look back at them.
Are you aware of the “magic hours” in photography? This time period refers to the times of day known as dusk and dawn. These magical times create very soft and warm lighting conditions. There is only 45 minutes around sunrise and sunset to add this beautiful light to your shots, so plan accordingly.
Consider your photo angles before you shoot. Look through your cameras view finder to see how the background and foreground interact. Check for odd shapes, or things that will detract from what you were thinking when you decided to take the shot. Taking a second to compose your craft will improve your pictures.
When you are taking photos, a good rule of thumb is the idea of less is more. Keep things simple, and avoid unnecessary clutter in your shots. Simplicity can translate into elegance, so strive for that in your shots.
When you are dealing with low lighting settings and you do not have a tripod, try to be aware of your shutter speed. Make sure it has a denominator that is greater than the focal length of the lens. Otherwise, you will not be able to capture sharp images.
Learn the apertures of the camera and understand how they are used. The aperture varies the amount of light allowed to travel through the lens which expands and contracts to allow this light to pass through. The more light that is allowed to travel through the lens, more objects in the photo will be in focus. The less light allowed through, the focus will shift to only focusing on objects in the foreground.
Leave yourself some “Lead Room” or “Active Space” when dealing with subjects that move in your shots. This is just basically some empty space either in front of the subject or behind the subject. This makes for a less-cluttered and more pleasing action shot for the viewer to look at.
Many digital cameras nowadays actually have a setting for red eye reduction. One of the worst things that can happen to a good picture is the subject will have red eye, ruining an otherwise perfect picture. If you have a setting, turn that setting on first, then snap your shot, and presto, no red eye!
Improve your photography by paying attention to the light. Lighting should usually be behind the photographer rather than the subject. A subject being backlit will create a silhouette. Be careful when the light is behind the photographer though, if it is too bright it might cause the subject to squint.
Vary your lighting when taking several pictures. It is harder to do in natural light, but you should adjust light levels when possible to see the different effects light will have on your picture composition. Keep the lighting comfortable to your subjects, and in line with your chosen color schemes.
You should know where sharpness appears in photos and how it works. As a rule, this sharply focused part of the photographic image will be in its center. Then, it starts distorting when it approaches the camera frame’s outer edges.
Armed with these tips, you can now dive into taking great photos and learn more and more about the use of your camera and methods of taking the pictures you have dreamed of. Practice often to cement what you’ve learned into your memory, and use what you know to create photographs which represent who you are.