May 01, 2011

Beginner Tips: Quick Tips

Photography is a great hobby, passion or even profession.  If you’re thinking about getting more involved in taking pictures there is no better time than the present.  Digital has made photography easy and affordable.  Many may consider themselves photographers because they have the equipment, but nothing can make up for the learned or natural ability to take a photograph.  There is so much more than I ever thought to creating a good photograph.  There is much more art, thought and consideration into a photograph than just pointing a camera in a general direction and clicking the shutter.  So, if you want to take your photographing skills to the next level I have put together a few beginner tips and will continue to include beginner tips entries.  To start out, I put together some quick tips.  
  1. Get your camera off Auto Mode.  If you set your camera to Priority Mode (P) you have control over settings without needing to know how to set aperture or shutter speed.  As you learn how to control aperture and shutter speed I would suggest shooting in Aperture Priority Mode (Av for Canon, A for Nikon).  That way you can control the aperture and benefit from being able to control depth of field without worrying about shutter speed.  
  2. Composition.  Whether you’re a novice or a pro, your composition can make or break a photo.  It doesn’t matter what kind of gear you have, your composition and subject can be the most important factor in your photography.  For some people it comes natural.  For others not so much.  Look at how other great photographers place their subject in the frame.  How does your eye travel through the photo.  Are you distracted by something in the background?  Decide what needs to be included and what should be left out.  Some rules to keep in mind:
    1. Rule of thirds:  Break the frame into thirds and put your subject(s) at those intersections.  
    2. Fill the frame:  To repeat the great Robert Capa, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”*
    3. Decrease distractions: That lady in the muumuu in the foreground of your amazing picture of the Pyramids of Giza may be a little distracting.  Unless, of course, ladies in muumuu’s in the foregrounds of majestic monuments is your style. 
    4. Lead the runner:  Usually, you don’t want the person looking off the edge of the frame, or the car driving out of the frame.  Give your subject room to go wherever they’re headed. 
  3. Light:  Lighting is probably the most important aspect of photography.  The best light is early morning and late afternoon.  Middle of the day is flat and boring.  Light at the beginning or end of the day has deep shadows, rich color, and overall dramatic lighting. However, don't miss an opportunity just because the clock says noon, other factors can contribute to dramatic light.  For example, some of the best light can come before or after a storm.  Be aware of how light is hitting your subject and search out the best light.
  4. Know how the flash works, then turn it off.  It’s amazing how an on-camera flash can ruin a photo.  If you use flash a lot consider investing in an external flash, but first try without by speeding up the shutter speed, cranking up the ISO, and/or start with a low aperture.  
  5. Be experimental.  Try night photography, find a different angle, break the rules. When you try new things you figure out how to slow the shutter speed or make a starburst.  
*I actually believe this quote may mean figuratively rather than literally, but either way, it's a great photography quote. 

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