Maybe you just got your first DSLR, and you aren’t happy with the images, or perhaps you want to learn how to take better pictures of your kids. Whatever the reason, you want to take better photos. But photography is more complex than simply pressing a button. With all the information out there, where should you start?
You should know certain things as a photographer regardless of if you are an expert or a novice. These simple yet powerful lessons differentiate you and help you grow in your art and your photographic career. For every newbie photographer, these are essential lessons to learn and practice.
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This almost seems like a no brainer, but I am surprised by the number of people who say that they have a fancy (and expensive) DSLR camera but still shoot in auto mode 100% of the time. Before you get all upset and say that there is nothing wrong with shooting in auto, I will raise my hand and say that yes, I also shot in the car when I got my first DSLR camera. But very quickly, I realised that my camera (a Canon 5D MKII at that time) was a fantastic and sophisticated piece of equipment capable of some incredible shots if I only knew how to operate it.
So take the time and know the ins and outs of your gear. The user manual is a great place to start to familiarise yourself with what all the buttons do and where they are located on the camera. You should adjust settings without removing your eye from the eyepiece/viewfinder when you are composing your frame. Think about it this way, would you like to own a convertible and always drive with the top up (i.e. closed), even on the most gorgeous of summer days?
11 Things Beginners Should Know About Photography
Even though you are a beginner, you know you want to create beautiful images and create them starting today.
It can be hard to remember that it takes time to master something new. When faced with beautiful image after beautiful image online and elsewhere, it is easy to think that there must be a shortcut, that if you get that latest piece of equipment, or you only knew some processing secret that your favourite photographers surely must know, your images will instantly be great. Choosing the right wedding photographer in Melbourne to capture every moment on your wedding day.
Those kinds of shortcuts don’t exist, but with hard work, permission to grow at your rate, and following some of the tips below, you can become the kind of photographer you want to be.
There’s a Lot to Learn. Take it One Step at a Time.
Once you decide you want to become a photographer, you can learn if you’re going to do it right. You need to understand f-stops, ISOs, exposure, focus modes, white balance, light, composition, focal length, how different lenses affect your images, posing for portraits, and communicating your voice to the world through your pictures, and so many other things. Looking at the list altogether can be overwhelming, but if you break it down, you can do it!
Decide what you want to work on first and concentrate on that. If you’re going to start by working on focus first, then read all you can to get the best focus from your particular camera. If you want to understand how to get a properly exposed image first, concentrate on really understanding how ISO, f-stop and shutter speed all work together to determine your images’ exposure. Break it down into manageable chunks and once one thing is second nature to you, find something else to concentrate on. If you try to get it all at once, you may find yourself overwhelmed, throwing your camera back into auto, and giving up on what could be an exciting artistic outlet.
Shooting in Manual Matters.
First, when most photographers talk about shooting in manual, they are talking about shooting in manual exposure mode, but that does not generally mean also shooting using manual focus. When I first started, I read enough to understand the basics of the exposure triangle, threw my camera into aperture priority mode and figured if I was choosing the ISO and f-stop, letting the camera choose the shutter speed was fine. I was mistaken in this belief for two reasons.
First, my camera at the time wasn’t sophisticated enough to have a minimum shutter speed, so I ended up with a lot of out of focus images from too slow of a shutter speed.
Second, possibly an even more important reason is that metering to zero according to your camera’s meter isn’t always the correct exposure for the scene in front of you. Because your camera wants to meter to a middle grey, if your location is light-coloured, you may need to overexpose according to the meter to get the proper exposure. The converse is true for dark scenes. Putting your camera in manual exposure mode, grabbing a grey card and learning to use it is a great way to begin to understand this. You will hear people refer to the Zone Method, exposing to the right, or any number of other ways to find the best exposure. Still, the main thing to understand is that your camera’s meter can give you a guideline, but it wants to meter to middle grey metering to zero won’t always be correct.
Also, there are times when you will have to make trade-offs and either over or underexpose unimportant parts of the scene to make sure the most important things, say the people in the image for a portrait, are correctly exposed. You want to decide what is most important, not let your camera decide.
Don’t Fear High ISO’s.
The second mistake I repeatedly made when I was new was that I was scared to push my ISO because I had heard that high ISO’s made for more noise in the image. While that is true, I hadn’t realised that a bit of noise is way better than an image out of focus from too slow of a shutter speed. Plus, if you have a properly exposed image or exposed to the right and maybe slightly overexposed (though not blown), the noise shouldn’t be too bad, even with a beginner level camera. Go ahead and bump up that exposure as much as your camera will let you so you can shoot using natural light indoors, or by the light of a lamp or iPad, or to grab the last rays of light outdoors.
You Don’t Need the Latest and Greatest Equipment to Make Beautiful Images.
When you are new, it can be easy to think that buying a better camera or the lens that everyone is raving about makes your work automatically better. For better or worse, that isn’t how it works. Hard work, study and practice are what it takes to make your images better. I upgraded from my first camera because I was sure I had outgrown it, and I grew exponentially while I had that second camera, but it mostly wasn’t because of the camera. I know that because now when I take my Nikon D40 with me on vacation these days, I am blown away by the images from it that I know how to use it to its fullest. Any entry-level DSLR and prime lens that suits your shooting style could be enough gear for you to get good. I made it into CMPro with a portfolio that was 90% images taken on a crop sensor, and I know several people who made it in with an entire set made from what would be considered entry-level gear. Once you have a basic set up, it’s up to you to take it as far as you can.
Study the Light.
After the basics such as exposure and focus are mastered, really consider learning to read the light. Nothing can take an image from okay to gorgeous as well as a great light. You can learn about light in a class, from a book, and/or from simply becoming aware of the light around you as you go through your day. Notice how the light falls on people and things as you go about your day, how people are lit in paintings and on TV. Eventually, reading the light is hard to stop. Someday soon, you may find yourself running to grab your camera as you notice how the light is hitting your little one as they play in the front hall or come across a gorgeous sunset.
Focus on Getting it Right in Camera, Before Spending All Your Time Worrying About Processing Your Images.
This is not to say that you can’t be learning the basics of an editing program or two, but before you spend all your time learning how to fix bad images with post-processing, try to work on getting it right in camera.
As you know more about processing, you can always go back and reprocess older images even years later if you still have the SOOC (straight out of the camera) file. Still, there won’t be anything you can do about your baby’s blurry images from not understanding the basics.
Also, shooting in RAW gives you tons of flexibility for editing when you get around to it. And having a nice SOOC allows you to use your processing to bring out your vision instead of fixing a bad image. I know that RAW can sound very scary, but it’s not. Yes, you have to do at least the basics to every image because your camera isn’t doing it for you, but you have so much control over the outcome. Want to change the exposure, no problem dramatically.
Did the light change, and you didn’t have a chance to change the white balance? You can still do a lot to correct that if you shot in RAW. RAW is the digital equivalent to a film negative. It gives you a great base to develop the image to suit your vision. Create lasting memories through your Yarra Valley wedding photography that will be cherished forever.
Take the Time to Understand How to Post Process by Hand.
Even if you love using actions and presets, knowing how to edit an image by hand is the best way I know to bring out your vision in every one of your images, not just the ones that your favourite preset works well on. It’s easy to take things too far when just editing with actions and presets if you don’t already have a good feel for how programs work and what a well-edited image should look like. Also, once you do start post-processing, make sure you understand white balance and skin tones. Even with great light and great technicals, if your white balance is radically off, your images won’t look as polished and professional as they could be. You may not notice as you’re learning, but as you look back on your early work, you’ll probably wonder how in the world you thought that orange baby looked good. A calibrated monitor will help you develop your eye. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come naturally. Keep practising, study your images and the others around you. Be sure to print pictures, too, to help you notice things that you might miss on your screen.
Learn the Rules So You Can Break Them With Purpose.
I sometimes see people who think that their style should include:
- White balance that is off.
- Compositions that are highly unique but maybe not very good.
- Other things that break the conventional rules of photography.
It’s usually easy to separate those who have internalised the rules and are breaking them on purpose to convey their message and those whose eyes aren’t developed enough to know how to break the rules to communicate their vision to their viewers. They break the rules simply because they don’t know them. Be one of the ones who know the rules so well they can break them to your heart’s content.
Slumps Are Normal.
Someday you may realise that while you’ve been learning a lot, your work seems to be getting worse. Chances are you’re not getting worse; it’s more a matter of you noticing things that you didn’t see when you were first starting. If you need to, go back and look at your work from a couple of months ago, and that should hopefully give you some perspective that you are improving, even if it’s easier to notice the less than perfect aspects of your images now. That being said, when you initially switch to manual, you may have a time when your work isn’t as good as it was when you were shooting on one of the auto modes. Push through that barrier, and soon your images will be way better than they ever were before.
Don’t think that slumps are something that only happens to beginners. Once you’ve gotten to the point where other people think your work is good or even outstanding, you may still have times when you aren’t feeling great about any of your latest creation. Slumps come with the process for many artists. You’ll have to figure out what works for you — shooting through the slump, putting the camera away for a while, coming up with a personal project, etc. — but know that you are not alone! Almost all of us feel that way sometimes. Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
Not Every Image Needs to Be a Work of Art.
Once you know how to take a great image, it can be easy to fall into the trap of not taking any picture in less than ideal conditions. Don’t fall into this trap. You will still want to remember the birthdays, vacations, trips to the playground and all the small everyday events, even if the light is less than ideal or the background is busier than Times Square. Yes, some people can take these less than ideal circumstances and still create amazing images, but even if you are not one of them, don’t let the quest for beautiful photographs stop you from documenting the important people and milestones along the way!
Enjoy the Journey.
I’ve been at this a long time, and one thing I’ve learned is that growing your photography is a journey without a finish line. As long as you continue to create, you will never arrive at a point where you know everything or have no room for improvement. There is always something else to learn. And no matter how good you get, there will always be someone better than you. Don’t let comparison or the quest for perfection steal your joy in the process.
7 Simple Tips to Improve Your Photography Skills
With the creative flexibility that photo editing tools like Adobe Photoshop offer, many rely on post-processing to improve their photos. However, if you are not keen on getting all techie and learning the ropes of photo editing tools, you can still develop lovely pictures. We have an exclusive range of wedding photography Mornington Peninsula services. Check them out here.
Below are the simple tips to improve your photography skills:
Go Through Your Camera’s User Manual.
With all that excitement that comes with purchasing a new camera, it can be easy to overlook the user manual. But what most people don’t know is that it contains a lot of crucial information that can help you make the most out of your camera and learn how to take better photos.
Granted that you still have your user manual stashed away somewhere, it is not too late to retrieve it and go through it from beginning to end. Know what each button in your camera is for and what you can do with its different settings.
Apply What You’ve Read.
What better way to retain your newfound knowledge about operating your camera than by trying out what you’ve read. Aside from giving you a first-hand grasp of what the controls in your camera and its settings can do, this is also a good way of finding out which of these features you will use regularly.
Remember: you do not have to try everything in one go. You can space out applying the things you’ve learned into several days of practice. Trying and making as many mistakes as possible is an excellent way to hone your skills in taking photos. With constant practice, the time will come that you’ll finally get that shot right.
Make the Most Out of What Your Camera Can Do.
According to a New York Times article, Bresson’s claim to fame was his use of a hand-held 35-mm. The camera took photos of the significant events that marked the 20th century (e.g. the Spanish Civil War and France’s German occupation).
His career as a photographer is proof that you do not have to have fancy equipment to take better shots. You have to make the most out of your camera and what it can do for you. If you have to, start with simple pictures and backgrounds. Then once you have gotten the hang of it, move on to more complicated scenes and shots.
Use a Tripod.
The simple act of using a tripod can dramatically improve the quality of your pictures. A tripod can give you stability when shooting photos, making your images come out sharper and more balanced. This will also prevent the risk of having unwanted elements in the frame.
Just make sure that you mount your tripod on a flat and steady surface and use one that fits your camera perfectly. Once it’s mounted, make sure that your camera and tripod are on a level horizon by checking with a spirit level. You wouldn’t want your pictures to come out slanted. For more stability, especially if your tripod is light, hang something heavy underneath your tripod. This will act as an anchor to prevent it from moving around when you’re trying to capture photos of a particular scene.
Use the Edges of Each Element as a Guide in Framing Your Photo.
One helpful tip is to line up the edges of some aspects in the frame to create a pathway that leads to your subject. This will make your photos more balanced and visually appealing.
Aside from edges and lines, look for other interesting shapes, textures, and patterns in the scene that you can use as a guide in framing your subject.
Expose Yourself to as Many Good Photos and Photographers as Possible.
Read photography books, attend exhibits, and browse photography portfolios online. Since photography is a visual art, you can pretty much learn what makes a good photo by studying it — or looking at it intently. If you happen to find an image you like, ask yourself: “What is it about that particular photo that I like?” Study how you can make your shots look like that. Remember it or write it down for reference the next time you shoot. Or, if that is not your style, go straight to experimenting with how to recreate that particular style with your camera.
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Ask for Feedback.
Putting your work out there can be pretty intimidating at first. But the feedback from others can help you find out what you are doing wrong and what needs to be improved. There are groups in photo sharing sites like Flickr, where you can upload your photos for critique. If you are not ready to share your work with the public yet, you may also ask photography enthusiasts in your circle to critique your work.