Last night I began thinking of some easy tools I have picked up over the past couple years to help me take better photos. You don’t need to be a pro or have a $5,000 Nikon in order to get stunning pictures. Some of my most memorable shots were taken with my first DSLR and the stock lens it came with. Keep in mind, these are just some of MY tips, so please feel free to leave comments with your own! I hope these help!!
10. Catch the Finer Details: Try shooting the unique characteristics, zooming in for story-telling details. If shooting around a farm, capture a farmer’s worn hands. Get a close up of horses’ hooves moving over the track instead of the whole race. At a car show, shoot that shiny Ferrari symbol on the hood… Try applying this way of thinking to your eveyday images for some great results.
9. Learn ALL your Camera’s Settings: It seems intimidating, or even a waste of time, but comb through that instruction book that came with your camera. Search online for camera specific guides and techniques. You are going to be amazed at what your camera can do when you get it out of the tempting “auto” mode. Even today’s point and clicks can accomplish some of the same tasks as expensive DSLR’s to create captivating photos.
8. Experiment with Exposure and ISO: By learning how to manipulate exposure using a combination of aperture, ISO, and shutter speed, you can turn an ordinary shot into something awesome. Try different settings to blur motion in daylight, higher aperture for natural star patterens around lights and the sun, or cranking up the ISO to take stunning handheld shots at night.
7. Invest in Better Lenses: You don’t need a ridiculously expensive camera to get great shots. I still shoot a majority of my photos with a Nikon D90, which came 0ut in 2008 and has been beat to a pulp. I have spent more money on good lenses than my 2 DSLR’s combined. Additionally, lenses retain their value. It is not uncommon to resell a lens for upwards of 90% of its original cost.
6. Change Perspective: Most photos are taken at eye level = boring. Change things up from time to time. Lay on the ground to shoot that grasshopper… Get up high and shoot down. Move in close to that slobbering dog… You will be amazed at what a little creativity will yield.
5. Get it Right the First Time: Many people think “I’ll fix that later in Photoshop” when they are out in the field taking photos. Why not take a few extra minutes and get the shot right the first time? Lighting, aperture, composition, waiting for a certain cloud to move, etc… whatever it may be, practice patience and determination to avoid long post-processing sessions that may not produce the results you could have had. Review your shots on your LCD for a quick preview. Zoom in on those photos to check for clarity.
4. Experiment with Light: Bracketing allows you to achieve a dynamic range of exposure with 3 (or more, depending on camera) shots. Sometimes that overexposed picture will look uniquely awesome while the neutral one looks normal and boring. In addition to camera-light settings, pay attention to the actual light. I love shooting just after sunrise and just before sunset. The soft, yellow light of this “golden hour” will do wonders for your shots!
3. Shoot by the “Rule of Thirds”: For those who don’t know, the rule of thirds is a staple for good composition in a photograph. Think of a standard rectangle. Picture three lines horizontal and three lines vertical in that “frame”. Now, instead of framing your shot with your subject in the middle (Nothing wrong with that, just gets a little boring at times) place it along one of those lines. Placing it along the intersection of a vertical and horizontal line can make an ordinary image unique and intriguing.
3.1. Crop to Perfection: Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we are in a hurry. Sometimes we just don’t get what we want, where we want it. It is ok. Don’t be afraid to crop your photos afterwards to get what you want. Whether its zooming in on something your lens couldn’t quite get out there and touch or moving your subject in to the magical thirds of your picture. Even minor cropping can do wonders for your shots.
2. What are you Shooting??: Instead of blindly shooting everything you see, know what you want to accomplish in each photo. Be selective as well – Think of each photo as a mini-project. You have an almost unlimited amount of photos to take, but spend your time shooting a handful of great shots instead of hundreds of mundane, boring ones.
1. Keep shooting: Shoot all the time. Keep your camera on you as much as possible, even if it is the one on your iPhone (there are many professional photographers making a good living shooting with their iPhones). Film is cheap – err… free… Digital lets you shoot as many pictures as you want. The more you shoot the better your pictures will become. After all, practice makes perfect (or at least better photographs).
There you have it. I hope these tips will help you get on the path to taking some truly amazing images!!