1: Use the Rule of Thirds
This rule helps you take eye-catching pictures by using one of the most effective rules of composition.
If you want to take pictures that have a “wow” factor built in them, the Rule of Thirds is the composition secret you need to take advantage of!
To use the rule of thirds, imagine four lines, two lying horizontally across the image and two vertical creating nine even squares. Some images will look best with the focal point in the centre square, but placing the subject off centre at one of the intersecting points of the imaginary lines, will often create a more aesthetically composed photograph.
When a photograph is composed using the rule of thirds the eyes will wander the frame. A picture composed by the rule of thirds is usually more interesting and pleasing to the eye.
2: Avoid Camera Shake
Camera shake or blur is something that can plague any photographer and here are some ways to avoid it.
First, you need to learn how to hold your camera properly; use both hands, one around the body and one around the lens and hold the camera close to your body for support.
Also, for handheld shooting, make sure that you are using a shutter speed that is appropriate for your lens’ focal length. If you’re shutter speed is too slow, any unintentional movement of the camera will result in your entire photograph coming out blurry. The rule of thumb is not to shoot at a shutter speed that is slower than your focal length to minimize this problem:
1 / Focal Length (in mm) = Minimum Shutter Speed (in seconds)
So, as an example, if you’re using a 100mm lens, then your shutter speed should be no lower than 1/100th of a second.
Use a tripod or monopod whenever possible.
Are you confused by any of the terminology? Do you want to easily control your camera and finally get rid of the confusion about focal length, aperture, shutter speed and other settings?
3: Learn to use the Exposure Triangle
To get your photos looking their best in terms of exposure and overall appearance, you need to master the three basics: Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.
You also need to understand the relationships between these three controls. When you adjust them, you would usually have to consider at least one of the others, to get the desired results.
Using Auto Mode takes care of these controls, but you pay the price of not getting your photos to look the way you wanted them, and often disappointing.
It’s a better idea to learn how to use Aperture-priority or Shutter-priority modes, and ultimately shoot in Manual mode.
4: Use a Polarizing Filter
If you can only buy one filter for your lens, make it a polarizer.
The recommended type of polarizer is circular because these allow your camera to use TTL (through the lens) metering such as auto exposure.
This filter helps reduce reflections from water as well as metal and glass; it improves the colours of the sky and foliage, and will help give your photos the WOW factor. It will do all that while protecting your lens. There’s no reason why you can’t leave it on for all of your photography.
5: Create a Sense of Depth
When photographing landscapes it really helps to create a sense of depth, in other words, make the viewer feel like they are there.
Use a wide-angle lens for a panoramic view and a small aperture of f/16 or smaller to keep the foreground and background sharp. Placing an object or person in the foreground helps give a sense of scale and emphasizes how far away the distance is.
Use a tripod if possible, as a small aperture usually requires a slower shutter speed.
6: Use Simple Backgrounds
The simple approach is usually the best in digital photography, and you have to decide what needs to be in the shot, while not including anything that is a distraction.
If possible, choose a plain background – in other words, neutral colours and simple patterns. You want the eye to be drawn to the focal point of the image rather than a patch of colour or an odd building in the background. This is especially vital in a shot where the model is placed off centre.
7: Don’t Use Flash Indoors
Flash can look harsh and unnatural especially for indoor portraits. Therefore, there are various ways you can take an image indoors without resorting to flash.
First, push the ISO up – usually ISO 800 to 1600 will make a big difference for the shutter speed you can choose. Use the widest aperture possible – this way more light will reach the sensor and you will have a nice blurred background. Using a tripod or an I.S. (Image Stabilization) lens is also a great way to avoid blur.
If you absolutely must use flash, then use a flash with a head you can rotate, and point the light to the ceiling on an angle.
8: Choose the Right ISO
The ISO setting determines how sensitive your camera is to light and also how fine the grain of your image. The ISO we choose depends on the situation – when it’s dark we need to push the ISO up to a higher number, say anything from 400 – 3200 as this will make the camera more sensitive to light and then we can avoid blurring. On sunny days we can choose ISO 100 or the Auto setting as we have more light to work with.
9: Pan to Create Motion
If you want to capture a subject in motion, then use the panning technique. To do this, choose a shutter speed around two steps lower than necessary – so for 1/250, we’d choose 1/60. Keep your camera on the subject with your finger half way down on the shutter to lock the focus and when ready, take the photo, remembering to follow them as they move.
Use a tripod or monopod if possible to avoid camera shake and get clear movement lines.
10: Experiment with Shutter Speed
Don’t be afraid to play with the shutter speed to create some interesting effects.
When taking a night time shot, use a tripod and try shooting with the shutter speed set at 4 seconds. You will see that the movement of the object is captured along with some light trails. If you choose a faster shutter speed of say 1/250th of a second, the trails will not be as long or bright; instead you will freeze the action.
Try shooting other compositions with moving objects or backgrounds such as waves on a beach, crowds of people walking, cars commuting, with different shutter speeds to either capture blurred movement or snapshots that freeze everything sharply in time.
Whenever using slow shutter speeds to blur movement, it is critical that the camera is stabilized to eliminate camera shake.
See image below.
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