The Photographer’s Field Guide
“The Secrets Of Making Great Pictures”
This is going to be an area that I will provide photography tips, tricks, and techniques. I call it:
- “The Photographer’s Field Guide”
We are inundated with photographs every day–pictures of war and famine, victory and defeat, of famous and infamous people, of goods we are enticed to buy, gorgeous models, ideal homes, microscopic organisms and distant stars, of important moments from history and moments that are important only to us. Photographs bring faraway places into our living rooms and time past into the present. We all have albums (or, for the less organized, drawers full) of pictures of loved ones and of ourselves when we were younger. Photographs provide the pleasures of art and information about things we never actually see. And they are our personal memories made real.
But of the countless photographs our eyes pass over, only a small number arrest our attention and stick in our memories. Just what is it that separates these images from the rest?
While great photographs come in many different forms, they all have one thing in common: Each conveys a strong feeling, be it joy, sadness, compassion, revulsion, or the simple but indescribable pleasure of looking ar something that our eyes and brain find appealing. The photographer communicates this feeling by successfully combining his sensibility-his eye-with knowledge of the tools and techniques. To get an image that is both of and about the subject, the photographer looks, thinks, chooses the right equipment, and then presses the shutter button.
In this guide, I will have tips, tricks, and techniques that go into the thinking part of image making, and the cameras, lenses, and other hardware that are our tools. I’ll get tips and tricks of the trade from experienced photographers. And I’ll explore the world of computers and photography.
You don’t have to be a professional to make good photographs, but you do have to spend a lot of time with the camera. I hope you will use this guide to learn useful tips and techniques, and then go out and make lots of pictures. That is, after all, the fun part.
The word “PHOTOGRAPHY”, as literally translated from the Greek, means “light drawing”. Photography is indeed mostly concerned with light. Light reflecting from a scene creates an image. While the camera’s shutter is open, light enters through the lens and exposes the light on the camera’s sensor that are used in today’s digital cameras.
In addition to understanding this basic process, an aspiring photographer must understand and control several factors in order to advance beyond taking snapshots. While these factors can consume an entire semester in a college course on photography or form the basics of a career, I’ll cover them briefly here and feature practical reference information you can use to make better photographs.
Beginning Photography Tips
Here are some beginning photography tips that are meant to introduce new photographers to the basic concepts of photography.
This section will also describe certain abilities photographers should acquire to help develop their style.
How to Take Good Pictures - This article explains the fundamentals of good photography. It focuses on composition, portraiture, and landscapes.
Most of the advice that I will be giving on how to take good pictures is based on the photographer using a single lens reflex (SLR) camera, but many of the areas still incorporate the use of a point and shoot camera: composition layout, rule of thirds…
My tips on how to take good pictures usually starts with composition.
There are many rules and techniques that deal with comoposition. One of the most common rules of thumb is the rule of thirds.
This works under the concept that tension in the picture will bring more interest.
The way that the rule of thirds is used is by splitting up the scene in the viewfinder into 9 equal parts like a tic-tac-toe board. Where the lines intersect is where points of interest in the photograph should be located. If there is a horizontal line of interest such as a horizon or edge of a table, it should be placed on the top or bottom one third line.
Do not forget that with a point and shoot camera, what you see is not exactly what you get. Instead of looking through the lens, as an SLR allows, point and shoots use a viewfinder commonly mounted above the lens.
Of course, just about the most popular venues of the art is portrait photography. The techniques in this section are meant to be used in all kinds of portraits: family, friends, and professional.
Here is a scenario that I am sure we have all seen - The Vacation Portrait – A family is on vacation and wants to get a nice portrait shot with the wondrous background scene. The problem is when the family gets home and looks at the portrait and realizes that they tried to get too much background into the shot and they can barely tell who is in the picture. This scene can be anywhere: on vacation, at the beach, even in the backyard.
The most important thing to remember with portraits is that the subject is the person or people in the photograph. I recommend head and shoulder shots for the most part. It is okay to pan out a bit to let some background in, but too much background may cause a subject conflict and the viewer’s eye may not be able to tell what to focus on.
Child PlayingIf you pan out to get a better picture of an action portrait (children playing) and the background is too distracting there is something that can be done. Decrease the aperture setting on your camera to narrow the depth of field. This will cause the background to be out of focus while keeping the subject in focus. This technique takes a bit of practice but the effect is worth it.
While a point and shoot camera usually does not allow the user to change aperture setting, this same depth of field effect can be obtained by simply moving closer to the subject. The closer the subject is to camera, the narrower the depth of field it will appear in.
Most photographers prefer that the scene in a landscape be in clear focus from foreground to background. In order to achieve this, wide angle lenses are commonly used. This lens’s short Focal Length combined with the appropriately high aperture setting, causes a near infinite depth of field (everything equally in focus).
Since the aperture setting should be set high to help increase the depth of field, the shutter speed will have to be slowed to compensate for the decrease in the amount of light (higher aperture setting = small opening in camera lens).
The ISO setting may also have to be changed to get the exposure right. Getting the exposure correct in landscapes can take some practice, but thanks to digital cameras, we can practice as much as we want without having to waste film.
The slower shutter speeds associated with landscapes makes it essential to use a tripod. The slower the shutter speed the more essential a tripod is. With landscapes, they are an absolute must. Some photographers even use a remote shutter release so they will not shake the camera by pushing the button.
Good landscapes are often difficult to obtain using a point and shoot camera. Point and shoots come with a standard lens that can not be changed our for a wide angle lens.
I hope this article has offered a basic scope on how to take good pictures.
The Keen Photographer
Taking great pictures lies in the eye of the photographer.
Photography is a pleasurable activity where even the dedicated hobby photographer can find his or her special niche through a wide range of subjects. They have the opportunity to present themselves through the creativity of their camera.
The keen photographer takes photos for the simple joy that it can provide. Their camera provides them their freedom of expression. And, they have their own special way of looking at the world, their environment and the people in it. They see things other people fail to see.
With the click of a camera, every picture they take can say a thousand words. The keen photographer can visually, tell a story, capture the beauty of a place through wonderful images.. And, he and she can immortalize and share with others special moments that may be cherished from generation to generation.
WONDERFUL PICTURES ARE JUST A CLICK AWAY
Take your favourite pastime to the next level by building a business around it. It could turn out to be your best asset.
You do not require expensive or sophisticated equipment however. you need to know how your camera works to get the best out of it. So, get as much experience and start building your photographic portfolio.
A WEBSITE IS YOUR ONLINE PORTFOLIO AND STOREFRONT TO THE WORLD
Photography can be more than just a hobby. Part-time or full-time, you can turn it into an exciting career. Its the ideal way to be your own boss, be in complete control of your working life and earn income while doing something that you enjoy.
A website can be your online portfolio and main marketing tool. Through it you can pass on your knowledge, skills and experience of your favourite pastime and share what you know with people who have similar interests
Whether you are a professional photographer or just an amateur, a website can showcase your work to the world, enhance your profile, and allow you to earn income.
TRAVEL DESTINATIONS ARE A PHOTOGRAPHERS DELIGHT
There is no better way to entice prospective travellers than with pictures that are full of colour and vibrancy in travel brochures posters and guide books.
Let your imagination come to life. You can cover the popular, the historical or the unusual. Where you live is also a great travel destination that offers many marketable photo opportunities.
Travel and Photography can open the door to new opportunities. Its all about a great lifestyle travelling to faraway places taking pictures of interesting places and making money doing something you love. This is the stuff of dreams, fun and excitement.
Its an exciting reason to get your camera out and to follow your dream.
5 Digital Photography Terms to Improve Your Understanding of Photography
Digital photography terms can be confusing at first. If you have no background in photography you may not understand some of the jargon used on photographic websites or by other photographers. Understanding the language used when talking about digital photography will help put you on the fast track to understanding your camera and how to use it. Then you’ll be on the road to becoming a better photographer.
Megapixels are the tiny dots that make up a digital image. A digital picture is made up of many dots called pixels. There are one million pixels in a megapixel. When you look for a digital camera you often see the number megapixels in an image produced by that camera prominently displayed with the camera information. It is commonly thought that a higher number of megapixels denotes a better picture quality. That’s not always the case.
Noise is a term used to described the amount of distortion in an image. This distortion is caused by a build-up of electrical charge on the sensor or by a fast shutter speed.
Aperture refers to the size of the opening of the lens. Like your pupil expands and contracts, the opening in your lens can open or close to allow more or less light into the camera. The aperture number is denoted by an f-stop number. For example, you may see numbers like f/16 or f/3.5. The higher the aperture number is the smaller the opening in the lens. The lower the number is the larger the opening in the lens.
ISO numbers are used to determine how sensitive the camera’s sensor is to light. In the days of film photography this number was used to describe the speed of film you used. As with film photography, the higher the ISO you use the more noise or grain will appear in the photograph. The most common ISO numbers are 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, and 3200. The higher the ISO the more sensitive the senor is to light. It’s best to use the lowest ISO you can for image clarity unless you are trying to take a picture with lots of noise.
JPEG is a lossy compression mechanism used by your camera to store images in a small file. Lossy compression means that some image quality is lost in the compression process. Though there are better types of files that can be used for image storage this is the most commonly used.
Top 5 Digital Photography Tips and Tricks
1. Check the tone settings
Whether you have noticed it or not, most of your digital shots will have a ‘cool’ look to them, ie very sharp and cold looking. This is due to the white balance setting that is the default for digital cameras when on the “auto” setting. This probably doesn’t bother you because you haven’t really noticed it before, but once you try other settings, it makes a big difference!
If you are shooting outdoor photos and there is a lot of sunshine, try changing your white balance setting to manual and choose a setting such as shade or cloudy. This will increase the reds and yellows of the photo, giving you a warmer picture.
Test this for yourself – take a photo on auto then switch the white balance to shade or cloudy and take the exact same photo. Upload them to your computer and compare them side by side… warmer huh?!
2. Sneaky trick for Polarizing Filter
If you want to get even more serious about your outdoor shots, then you need to get your hands on a polarizing filter. This filter is the one you need if you want to be a serious photographer and love to shoot outdoor landscapes and portraits. This reduces the glare and unwanted reflections and colors are more saturated.
But, these filters are expensive and most point and click cameras don’t accept them… so what to do? Take those sunglasses off your head and put them in front of the camera lens! Get them as close to the viewfinder as possible and make sure you can’t see the rims in the shot. To enhance the shot even more, make sure the sun is over either your right or left shoulder.
3. Outdoor Portraits with Flash, what?!
I know this is contrary to what we are told when taking outdoor portraits, especially if the sun is out, but this will illuminate your subject and give that professional look we all want from our photos!
Do this by ensuring the flash is on, not on auto. Next try different options of positioning – get the subject to sit with the sun behind them or to the side of them so their hair is illuminated or try getting the subject to sit in the shade and use the flash to illuminate them and avoid squinty eye – not very attractive!
4. Perfect Close Ups
Want to get every line, hair and wrinkle on that person you’ve been watching all night or just want to try your hand at some outdoor close ups – especially on those little ants running around on the ground?!
Did you know there was a close up mode on your camera, cleverly disguised as a “flower” in your manual settings?! No? Thought so, neither did I until a photographer friend told me about it! It’s brilliant! Just make sure you are using a tripod or are very stable with your hands and when taking the photo, hold the shutter button down halfway first to allow the camera to focus then follow through.
Remember that when you are in this mode that you have a shallow depth of field, so focus on the part of the subject that you really want to get up close and personal with!
5. Lining up the Horizon
How often have you taken a landscape photo only to view it and find that the horizon is a little off balance? But when you were looking through your viewfinder, you swore it was level?!
The easiest way to solve this problem is to use a tripod and make sure it’s on level ground… failing the tripod, make sure you are on level ground and keep your hands steady by bringing your elbows into the side of your chest and anchor them there – now don’t move! Take the shot. Move slightly to make a slight adjustment and take the shot again. View them on the computer and you will find you have at least one level horizon in there!
Although wedding photographers may appear to have an easy job, this is quite simply not the case. There is much more involved in wedding photography than many might realize. The bride and groom and their families are counting on the photographer to capture every detail of their special day. They expect to see beautiful, timeless images that they will be able to treasure for years to come. It is important to be well prepared when photographing a wedding.
The first thing a photographer should know before accepting the contract for a wedding, is their camera. A DSLR is the most highly recommended type of camera for wedding photography. Setting the camera on auto does not work in every situation. It is necessary to be able to manually manipulate the controls to create the proper exposure. It is equally important to have the right equipment to go along with the right camera when photographing a wedding. It may be necessary to have a large external flash depending on the time and location of the wedding. Additional lighting, types of lenses, and battery power also need to be considered.
Many weddings are an all day event, which means that having the necessary battery power is extremely important. Camera batteries can be extremely expensive, especially name brand batteries. Fortunately, there are third party batteries available on online auction sites, such as eBay. Some are poor quality, but with a little careful research, photographers can have great success and save a little money as well.
Having extra batteries may not be enough. It is a great idea to take a charger along as well, so that batteries that are low on power can be charged. An external flash usually requires four AA batteries, and wedding photographers should have at least one extra set of these available as well. Once a potential photographer is confident in their equipment and skill level, photographing weddings can be a great source of income. They are a joyful occasion, and usually fun to photograph, as long as the photographer is properly prepared.