Photographers approach me often and ask me how to improve the quality of their photos. Below is a list of 10 digital photography tips that I recommend which will help you get to the next level:
- Don’t shake your Camera – this sounds quite obvious, though it is very easy to do. If I am looking for a precise shot where the scene is set up, I will use a tripod. However, if you are trying to take a photo of an object in action, it becomes more challenging. The best way to avoid blurry photos is to use a higher shutter speed. If you are using a 35mm lens, then you would need a shutter speed that is no lower than 1/35th of a second.
- Rule of Thirds – I am a big believer in the rule of thirds. Some cameras will actually outline the viewfinder into the “rule of thirds” which simply divides a frame into 3 lines across and 3 lines down, somewhat similar to the game “tic-tac-toe”. Many amateur photographers believe that they should just film their subject straight down the middle. Often you can get a more realistic photo if you take the photo off center. This is where the rule of thirds helps.
- Understand the Exposure Triangle – the exposure triangle refers to Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO. Most digital cameras have an auto-mode which takes these items in consideration and tries to balance them. However, most seasoned photographers believe that while auto-mode is good, it is not as precise as manually controlling these items. Understand that as you adjust one of three areas, it will affect the other two. I would recommend taking a class on mastering the “exposure triangle”.
- Use a Polarizing Filter – this is important for reducing glare and reflections. It also helps with creating more vivid colors of flowers or the sky, for example. Finally, a polarizing filter helps to protect your lens. These filters can be purchased in the $25 range.
- Create Depth in your photos – since a photo is 2 dimensional, you need to use certain tools and techniques to create depth in your photo. In order to show your photography backgrounds in a way that allows your viewer to feel he or she is actually there, you will want to invest in a wide-angle lens. This will help to creating a panoramic view while keeping the foreground and background sharp. Placing an object or person in the foreground can help to show the scale of the background. I like to use a tripod and typically take these types of photos with a slower shutter speed.
- Consider your Backgrounds – Keep it simple is the rule of thumb. In background photography, you can easily distract from your subject if the background is not neutral or plain. In looking at good background images, you can either use a natural background or you can use a photographic backdrop. The goal should always be the viewer’s eyes are drawn to the focal part of the image.
- When to use Flash – don’t use flash indoors. Flash does not produce a flattering photo of subjects and typically reveals blemishes and is harsh. What you can do instead of using flash indoors is to move your ISO up. I would recommend 800 or even 1600 ISO. Also, use the widest aperture possible.
- Choose the Correct ISO for the photo – typically, I recommend using ISO 100 or an auto-setting for outdoor photos because there is sufficient light. In situations where there is not sufficient light, I use a higher ISO. The darker the setting, the higher ISO I will use.
- Capturing a Subject in Motion – I like to use what is known as the panning technique. I will typically use a shutter speed that is two steps lower than necessary. For example, if the shutter speed is 1/250, I will go with 1/60. I will keep my camera on the subject and will have my finger halfway down on the shutter to lock in the focus and take a few photos while following the subject in motion. Again, I would recommend a tripod to avoid shaking/blurring.
- Use the proper Shutter Speed – sometimes you will want to show a light trail affect and you can do that by shooting with a longer shutter speed like 3 or 4 seconds. If you want to freeze the action, you will want to set the shutter speed to something like 1/250 of a second. Experiment with the shutter speeds to get the effects that you like. Practice makes perfect. Try shooting photos of waves in the ocean, crowds of people, or vehicles in motion. You can capture blurred movements or an action freeze depending on what you want to see in the photo. Remember that if you are using slow shutter speeds, it is more important to keep the camera steady. In these cases, you will want to use a tripod.
Hopefully the tips above are beneficial and will help you get to the next level with your photos. If you follow these tips, I can ensure that you will produce higher quality, more professional looking photos.