Digital Photography Tips & Techniques to help your photography abilities It’s surprising how ideas and inspiration for books sometimes begin. For this one, it was being asked to look at a collection of photos. This might seem a perfectly innocuous activity, but while doing so you can find yourself in a somewhat difficult position.
In this section we’ll work on the premise that everyone wants to shoot great photos, but often just need a little direction and guidance to do so. So let’s begin by looking at some simple – and seemingly eclectic – ways that we can start turning our photographic snaps into photos: interesting images into compelling ones, emotional photos into emotive ones. Not all photos need to stand up as exemplars, but t’s amazingly satisfying when a snapshot turns out to be a great photo, one that can drawplaudits not only from friends and family but from other photographers, too.
Digital Photography Tips & Techniques for going for advanced composites, remembering guidance for gear,editing and lighting.
Develop a photographer’s eye
A decent beginning stage is to dissect what makes an incredible picture. What has the photographer done to cause an image excel expectations? Consciously – or more probable subliminally – the photographer will have run however an agenda and asked oneself an inquiry or two before finally pressing the shutter. The first question might be ‘Why am I about to take this photo?’. Standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, the answer might be ‘To prove I’ve been here’, or ‘To record all the places I visited on my holiday’.
Both are perfectly valid reasons, but those more typical of a keen tourist photographer rather than a skilled image creator. In contrast, the more experienced photographer might answer ‘Because I like the way that the rust colour complements the green foliage’, or ‘Because of the warm glow the evening light casts over the scene’. These answers show that the photographer is less interested in recording the scene and instead is looking for – perhaps literally – a new angle. That’s not to say you shouldn’t shoot more ordinary views too. I always do!
The more we can take on board, the better developed our photographer’s eye will be, so here goes:
- what’s the weather like?: The weather – in terms of the weather conditions and the lighting – will have a significant bearing on the results achieved.
- is the subject in focus?: How much of the shot is in focus? Is this appropriate for my subject? We’re talking here about depth of field.
- is the shutter speed appropriate?: This is particularly important if hand holding the camera – to avoid camera shake and blur – or when shooting fast moving subjects, when we may want to freeze or accentuate blur.
- have i composed my shot well?: Composition can make or break an image that is perfect in every technical sense.
Tips:photographers can sometime be obsessive in their interest in the weather – the forecast for their next photo mission can determine whether that mission will be a success or failure. however even when conditions appear to be stable and conducive to great photography, you need to stay alert. take a look at the following case. It’s a sunny day; with clear blue sky and photogenic fluffy clouds – conditions look ideal for some bright, punchy tourist-style photos.
But things can change quickly as those fluffy clouds start to cast a dark shadow over your images. You need to be vigilant and check that what you are shooting through the viewfinder matches the shot you originally conceived. Being mindful of transient changes in a scene is often important – if not critical. Weather changes represent one case and later we’ll be looking at a more creative one: determining the decisive moment.
what a difference a second makes: fleeting changes in weather conditions can make ruinous changes to the quality of your images, changes it is all too easy to overlook until it’s too late. here’s the original shot, where the shadow from a cloud intervened, followed by a shot as the cloud started to move away, and finally the shot as originally envisioned.
Check the view through the viewfinder
Many a good shot has been spoiled through poor composition, a subject blinking, or by holding the camera at an unfortunate angle. Although we can learn to improve composition and overcome other potential problems, it’s all too easy to overlook more obvious image defects at the crucial moment. We tend – naturally perhaps – to concentrate our attention on the subject of a photo, remaining oblivious to what is going on beyond.
Digital photography was touted as a solution to poor technique; with it you can take a photo of your subject with a tree apparently sprouting from his or her head and remove it digitally later. And of course you can, but it’s much better to avoid such faux pas in the first place. It’s good practice to get into a routine of spending just a second or two before pressing the shutter to check the viewfinder for any errant elements. Are there any trees – or lamp posts – interfering with the shot? Is the subject properly placed in the frame, appropriately sized and not too small, with no bits cut off by the edge of the frame?
Learn the rules of composition
Perhaps the best known – almost to the point of being a cliché – compositional tool is the rule of thirds. Cliché it may be, but that’s because it works. And it’s easy to visualize – as most camera LCD displays can display the appropriate guidelines. So what is the rule of thirds? Divide your image into three – vertically and horizontally – then you’ll have four points where the dividing lines cross. You should place your subject on one of these intersections.
If your shot also includes the horizon, you’ll get an even better composition if you place the horizon line along one of the horizontal dividing lines. It’s simple, and it’s powerful – which is why it’s become formalized as ‘rule’. But, as with all rules, don’t follow it blindly. If a composition works better when, for example, the subject is centred in the frame, shoot it that way instead.
rule of thirds: placing a subject – or the key element of a subject – at the intersection of the dividing lines (as with the eyes, here) delivers a much stronger composition than if we had placed the subject more centrally.
Choose – and use – the perfect lens
So what do you need to get the best from your camera? Often interchangeable lens cameras come with what is called a kit lens (by virtue of it being supplied with the camera), which is a zoom lens with a focal length of 28–120mm (typically). This is sufficient to cover modest wide‑angle shots, standard focal lengths and modest telephoto focal lengths.
It’s not the sort of lens that professionals would value, but that’s not to say it’s a bad lens. It’s a great piece of kit to have on the camera to ensure you’re best set for the majority of everyday photo opportunities. So why isn’t this the only lens you’ll ever need? There are a couple of reasons.
First, the kit lens is built to a budget: to keep costs down, yet the potential image quality high, the maximum aperture is usually small – f/3.5 to f/5.6. This means that when the light levels fall you have to increase the ISO sensitivity or, if viable, the exposure times. Not always ideal if you’re dealing with fast moving subjects or shooting in dim conditions. Second – and again dictated by the cost – the zoom range of the kit lens is modest.
It’s unlikely to be as wide as you might sometimes need (particularly if you want to shoot in tight interiors) and the telephoto range is not sufficient to let you get close in on distant objects.
For general photography you can be well covered with just three lenses:
- super wide-angle, 20mm to 40mm: Great for those tight interior or dramatic outdoor shots.
- Standard zoom, 28mm to 70mm: A narrower range than the kit lens, but it covers many everyday situations. A wide aperture, say f/2.8, is moderately pricey but extends the flexibility substantially.
- Telephoto zoom, 70mm to 200mm, 70mm to 300mm: Picks up where the standard zoom leaves off and allows you to zoom in on small details in the scene.
Add depth wIth foreground frames
That foreground frame will be something convenient in the landscape such as a branch of a tree or – a little more literally – a gateway or archway. Try shooting scenes with and without these props and discover the difference they make. To do so, you will probably have to reposition yourself under a tree or through a gateway. In addition, alter the zoom setting on your lens to ensure the subject remains appropriately sized and positioned.
Tips:Nearby objects can Blur:A frame can be close up to the camera, yet does not have to be sharp. shooting through, or over, nearby foliage can produce a more effective result than if you were to choose a smaller aperture and keep everything pin sharp. the view then emulates that of the human eye, where we focus on the subject, consequently causing nearby objects to blur (see add depth to an outdoor scene).
Make the most of colour
For some photographers there is only black and white. Colour, they will contest, only distracts from the purity of the tone, contrast and form they are so eager to record. I have to admit that I love colour: on one hand it can set the scene and atmosphere of an image, and on the other it delivers a terrific punch. However it’s not something that should be taken for granted. Colour needs to be handled carefully if it’s not going to dominate your images to the exclusion of everything else.
Capture a small amount of bold colour in a scene otherwise composed of harmonious similar colours to provide a bold accent that immediately attracts attention.
▽◁ colour wheel: here you can see that similar colours are adjacent each other on the wheel. on the other hand, complementary colours are those on opposite sides.
▽◁ complementary colours: The power in the image comes from the contrast between the colours.
▽◁ similar colours: These sit well together even when used at high saturations and provide images with coherence.
Make the most of the light
Auto Exposure mode – or its near‑equivalent sibling, Program – is like having an instantly responsive photo expert built into your camera. Point and shoot; you’re guaranteed a perfectly exposed shot. Unfortunately though, this photo expert is rather blinkered and imagines that you’ll always want to shoot in what might be called average conditions: a scene with average lighting conditions and average tones. Actually, for most photos this is fine; a surprising number of images fall within this configuration of conditions. However as your photo skills and creativity become more extensive you’ll begin to come across situations where conditions are not average. At this point, Auto mode is no longer sufficient.
By ‘compensation’ we’re talking about exposure compensation and means adjusting the automatically set exposure to allow in more or less light than the determined setting. Setting an exposure compensation amount is possible on most cameras, either by adjusting a physical dial or by making a selection from the on‑screen menu.
Setting a positive exposure compensation (+1 / 3, + 1, +2 stops for example) allows more light to hit the camera’s sensor, thus achieving brighter results when shooting snow scenes. At the same time, setting a negative value will allow less light to reach the sensor, thus resulting in a dimmer scene. Altering the exposure by 1 stop doubles (+1 stop) or halves (‑1 stop) the amount of light entering the lens. Precise compensations are hard to determine, so it’s best to shoot with an approximate compensation and then look at the result on the camera’s LCD screen. You can adjust the setting more precisely if needed.
snow scenes: These kind of scenes will confuse cameras’ exposure settings so be prepared to dial in around 1 stop overexposure to prevent the crisp white snow becoming slightly murky.
Get the timing right
I’ve been told, when people look at a powerful action photo I’ve shot, that I was lucky to get the timing right. To a point, luck does play a part in shooting at a critical and precise moment, but skill and experience play their part, too. Indeed, several factors come into play in getting the shot at the key moment. Familiarity with your subjects helps: knowing how your subjects move and the critical part of their action. You also need to be very familiar with your camera, knowing exactly when to press the shutter release. Almost all cameras have a lag time between pressing the shutter and the photo being taken. In some – the more professional and enthusiast cameras – that lag is negligible; in others it’s more significant.
Capture the decisive moment
Let’s examine a real world example: here’s a shot where timing was crucial, but composition, too, was significant. The scene was in London’s Olympic Park, where two children were standing on a hilltop by the Agitos logo, looking down into the heart of the venue. Set against a bright night sky, the children and the Agitos logo together made a great composition. Then, a moment later, a firework display started.
A great composition suddenly became something much more as the children were suddenly silhouetted by the expansive firework display. In normal circumstances, when time was not a factor, I would probably meter from the fireworks, apply a modest exposure compensation (say ‑1 stop), and try some bracketed exposures. In that time I would have probably lost the moment – the fireworks might have stopped or, more likely, the children moved.
Instead, I had preconfigured the camera – in this case, at f/4, 1 / 25 second and ISO 200 – which proved sufficient to record an appropriately underexposed night scene. So, did luck play a part? I’d have to say yes. And it always will, but as your skills develop you will rely less and less on the luck element.
Exploit your camera’s aperture controls
To some it might be stating the obvious. When you vary the aperture, you vary the amount of light that can get through the lens to the sensor. And in Auto mode the aperture, like the iris of the human eye, can adjust automatically to the ambient light levels. (Digital Photography Tips & Techniques)
Numerically a wider aperture is denoted by a smaller number, such as f/2.8, while a smaller aperture is denoted by a larger one, for example f/16. Although it’s not crucial to the theory, the number is a ratio of the diameter of the lens aperture to the focal length of the lens. So does changing the aperture merely change the amount of light entering the camera? Ostensibly yes, but changing the aperture also modifies the image.
The aperture setting controls the depth of field in the image, or the amount of an image that is in sharp focus. Set a wide aperture and the depth of field will be shallow; focus on an object and very little of the scene in front and behind will also be in focus. Set a small aperture and much more of the scene, perhaps extending from the foreground through to the most distant parts of the scene, will be sharp.