Thursday, March 11, 2010

Amateur to Professional -- 8 Easy Tips to better digital photography

Have you ever wished your pictures could turn out as well as a professional photographer’s? You might be telling yourself that there’s no way you could get professional looking photos out of your small digital camera. All of the professionals have bags or studios full of cameras, lenses, flashes and a variety of other lighting tools. However, did you know, a good photograph is determined more by how the picture is taken, than what camera, or who it is taken by? Here are eight quick and easy tips that are sure to improve the quality of your pictures.

  1. Get closer to the subject – You can either step closer or zoom in. Lou Crandall, a photography teacher at both UVSC and Spanish Fork High School states that, “The biggest mistake people make when taking a photo is that they are too far away.” I fully agree with this statement. Often times we deprive our subject of attention in unnecessary attempts to get the big picture. Usually, the best pictures are the most simplistic and draw your eye to the subject.
  2. Pick a subject and draw the viewer to it – A picture without a subject has no significance or appeal. The subject should be placed in such a manor so that the viewer is focused or led to it. This can be accomplished by a variety of techniques. You may choose to have lines in the pictures lead the eye to the point of interest or maybe even blur everything but the subject.
  3. Pay attention to lighting – Photography is the art of capturing light. The light reflected off given subjects produces a picture. Using poor lighting will consequently produce a poor picture. Contour and texture is produced by shadows. Lighting is everything the camera sees. If at all possible, do not use a flash. Using a flash often results in subjects that are much brighter than their backgrounds and frequently generates an undesired glowing effect.
  4. Move around – Remember, you aren’t a tree, and you’re not rooted to the ground. If the picture would be better from a different angle, move. It’s a very simple concept that is often neglected. Pay special attention to objects in the background and make sure that they are not causing unwanted distractions to the photo. Also remember that your camera can take pictures at any angle. Don’t be afraid to rotate your camera to a portrait style position.
  5. Compose your picture – Just as an artist using paint, pencils, or even crayons, you can choose what is in your picture, as well as where it will be. Composition is key in drawing your eye to the subject. One easy composition trick that most professional photographers use, is the “rule of thirds.” This is done by imagining lines arranged like a tic-tac-toe game. The subject is then placed on one of the lines, or preferably on two of the lines intersecting. By using this, your pictures seem to become more interesting and loose the boring centered look.
  6. Know your camera’s settings – Know what your camera can do. Sometimes a camera will have certain settings making it easier to obtain a desired photo. A common mistake many people make when taking a picture using a digital camera, is using one, quick press of the button. This often creates a delay and the photo is taken too late. Digital cameras are designed using a button with two steps. Holding the button half way will focus and prepare the camera. When completely pressed, the image is instantly captured. Using this technique will ensure that your camera has focused on the correct subject and that no delay occurs.
  7. Creative view – Creativity is what makes your pictures different than anyone else’s. Let your mind flow with different approaches to a given picture. Instead of taking a regular picture of a flag, I took it from underneath looking up. It’s a view you usually don’t see.
  8. Crop – One of the best ways to improve the look of a photo is to crop it. This means to cut out unwanted parts of the picture. It is a great way to easily change your subject placement and focus. It can be done either while you are taking your picture, or afterwards.

By using these eight quick and easy tips, I know your pictures will improve dramatically. All professional photographers started somewhere and they all use these same simple techniques.

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