Quick Yet Effective Tips for Better Photography

The art of photography is loaded with thousands of tips to help you make your images look more appealing. Here are several suggestions you can follow to capture great looking shots:quick2 Quick Yet Effective Tips for Better PhotographyDo not forget you can also shoot in vertical format – the most common way to hold a camera is right side up which would mean a horizontal framing when taking a shot. But by turning the camera on its side, you shift the framing into a vertical format which can greatly affect the visual presentation of the scene. When shooting your subject, remember to try using the vertical framing to produce more composition options.

Move your camera angle to not include distracting background elements – when not in a studio setting, you may not have complete control over your surroundings. Certain background elements might appear distracting but cannot be removed from the setting. A trick to eliminate it from showing up in your frame is to angle your camera in such a way that the distraction is not within the lens’ line of vision. 

Be aware of shutter lag – shutter lag is the delayed recording of the image after clicking the shutter release button. This is a common issue with digital cameras compared to film although in the recent years, changes have been made to lessen this lag especially with high-end cameras. Be aware that when you press that shutter button, the response of the camera to take the shot may not be immediate. This could pose a problem for scenes with fast quick3 Quick Yet Effective Tips for Better Photographyaction such as sports photography since by the time the camera records the image, the moment most likely would have already slipped away. You can attempt to avoid this issue by anticipating the action in the scene so you can time yourself as to when to click the shutter button.

Do not be afraid to use creative blur – by default, compact cameras are designed to have as much of the scene in clear focus. This is great for regular snapshots where you would normally want the overall image to be sharp. There are times, however, when blurriness can make a photo more attractive and interesting. You can blur parts of an image by either usingquick1 Quick Yet Effective Tips for Better Photography a big aperture size to create a shallow depth of field (if your camera allows exposure adjustments), or by using motion blur such as panning. Creative blur also makes fantastic abstract images.

Push yourself to be more unique – with the boom of digital photography is the thousands of people suddenly making photography a hobby or a business and multiply that with the thousands of images being made everyday and you get millions of photos being uploaded online or printed. Due to this sheer number of shots, it is very easy for many of them to come out looking very similar to each other. Cliché shots are overwhelming and the last thing you need is to shoot like the rest. Constantly strive to make your shots more creative, give them your special flair.


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The Don’ts of Photography

There are a lot of do’s and don’ts in the art and craft of photography. In other articles, we had given lots of tips on the ‘do’s’, or what you can do to further improve your skills. In this particular article, we will focus on what NOT to do when practicing the craft:

Do not get stuck with shooting the same kind of images – part of polishing your photographic skills is to shoot images that take you out of your comfort zone. This allows you to discover new ways to shoot your subject, dont1 The Don’ts of Photographyfrom the lighting to how to compose it. It also gives you the chance to see your subject differently and with a creative eye. If you always take landscape shots but rarely use your camera for macro or close up shots, why not try switching styles for a change and see what lessons you can teach yourself. 

Do not ignore the manual mode – if you always use the auto mode, you would know that it can be quite convenient and easy to use since the camera decides the ‘appropriate’ settings needed. However, it can also be limited and the result may not be exactly what you would have wanted the picture to turn out. Using the manual mode would give you much more control over the camera settings and thus, the outcome of the shot. 

dont3 The Don’ts of PhotographyDo not wipe the dust off the lens with the edge of your shirt or a paper napkin – please resist the temptation to use your shirt, a piece of tissue, a table napkin or anything else that is not meant for cleaning lenses. They may look clean and spotless but their very fibers could be rough enough to leave scratches on your sensitive glass. 

Do not cover the flash with a finger – this is a common error with compact cameras where the flash is located at the corner of the camera and very close to where you would normally grip the camera when taking a shot. Always be aware of anything that might block the flash as you are taking your photo. 

Do not place a person right in front of a pole, a light post or a thin tree – doing this would give the illusion that the person in the picture has some unattractive appendage growing out of his or her head. Always be aware of your background and how you are positioning your subject in relation to it. 

dont2 The Don’ts of PhotographyDo not forget to charge your camera’s batteries – have you ever experienced a situation where you are about to shoot a once in a lifetime moment when your camera’s battery suddenly dies? Or a time when you go to an event and turn on your camera to take pictures and your camera will not even start? It can be frustrating to say the least and unless you have a spare battery on hand. 

Don’t leave home without a camera – a lot of great photo opportunities could be missed for the simple reason that you did not have your camera with you at the time. Try to have a camera with you when you go out, you never know what rare photographic moments you may encounter and want to take a picture of. A phone camera or a simple point and shoot is sufficient for the job. 


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7 Digital Photography Lessons to Teach Your Child

One of the many advantages of technology nowadays is having the opportunity to use a digital camera where the cost of film and developing is not something to consider when first teaching a child on how to use a camera and take photographs.

We all would like to preserve memories of our children growing up, but we can’t always be there to record every moment of their life. Moreover, it would be a completely different experience if a child recorded their own memories through their own experiences and their own eyes. Besides, it is not all the time that they let us in on all their secrets. This is a way for them to express themselves as well as discover who they are and perhaps open doors to what they would want to be in the future.

Here are a few lessons you can give your child on getting started in using a camera and taking photographs of their own.

child1 7 Digital Photography Lessons to Teach Your Child1. Experiment – show your child different techniques to try when shooting one subject. Let your child try shooting from different perspectives such as up high or down low. Explain the difference between a close up shot and moving further away from a subject to include more of the scene. Show your child how to shoot with different angles by moving around a subject. Also, how to use the different settings on a camera by experimenting on different exposure modes and what outcomes each may produce.

2. Pay attention to the background and foreground – teach your child to be aware of the background and foreground of a subject and to be conscious of possible clutter that may be a distraction. Give emphasis on the importance of framing to eliminate some of the distractions, as well as to give more focus and attention to the subject.

child3 7 Digital Photography Lessons to Teach Your Child3. Keep the camera straight – although off-kilter shots can have a playful feel to the images and have a candid effect, it’s important to teach your child to frame an image. This would give your child the very basic principle of leveling all of the shots and once that is imparted and practiced, even candid shots will look great and won’t have that dizzying effect.

4. Hold the camera properly- don’t assume that anyone can hold a camera, especially a child who is unfamiliar with it. Your child may need a few tips in holding a camera correctly to help avoid the usual problems encountered such as camera child2 7 Digital Photography Lessons to Teach Your Childshake. Advice your child to use the camera strap to lessen chances of the camera falling on the floor.

5. Get in close – teach your child that getting close to the subject can capture so much of the details that are often missed. It will also make your child more observant and appreciative of ‘ordinary’ objects.

6. Take lots of photos – it’s great how taking photographs aren’t as costly with digital cameras today. You and your child can preview the images right after they are taken and edit out the ones you don’t want to keep. By letting your child freely take pictures without having to stop at a certain number of shots, they get to play and have fun and explore what they can do with the camera.

 



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6 Good Habits Practiced by Photographers

The more time you spend doing an activity, the more habits you incur. Such is the case with photography, whether it is your profession or a hobby. Here are three good practices which every photographer is advised to follow:

1. Back up your image files – one of the worst things that can happen to a photographer is for all his or her image files to be irretrievably lost because the computer suddenly conks out. habit1 6 Good Habits Practiced by Photographers Constantly backing up photo files can be a hassle especially if you have thousands stored in your hard drive. But can you imagine what will happen if all your precious photos suddenly vanish just because you didn’t take the effort to back them up? Make it a habit to back up your shots so that if your hard drive becomes corrupt or just breaks down without reason, at least you are secure in the knowledge that you have copies of your photos in another hard drive, memory cards, data discs or even online. 

2. Take care of your gear – protect your gear all the time, even when you are just at home. I admit to sometimes forgetting to clean the camera lens and regret it when I see dust particles in my photos that I then have to remove in post processing. But more than that, dirt and grime can actually harm the camera. DSLRs, for example, have removable parts and if a speck of sand happens to enter the spaces of the camera, it can scratch the sensitive parts and cause the camera to malfunction. Simple actions such as protecting your camera’s LCD with a screen protector, not holding the camera with wet hands, using the neck strap if you’re plan to hold the camera while shooting, and using a camera case can make your camera live longer. As much as it tempts you, don’t wipe your camera’s lens with the edge of your shirt. Invest in a camera cleaning kit or at the very least, use a lens cloth such habit2 6 Good Habits Practiced by Photographers as what you would use for eyeglasses or eye shades. Accessories such as batteries, memory cards, filters, extra lenses and flash units should be taken care of just as much since these can be expensive to repair or to replace.

3. Work in-camera – it is good practice to try to improve your in-camera skills rather than to rely on post-processing tactics. In the days of film, photography was often considered an expensive hobby because of the rolls of films one had to buy once the previous roll was used up. To save money, many (okay, me) would try to get the perfect shot in as few frames as possible. With digital photography, we now have the luxury of taking hundreds of pictures without having to worry about the cost of film. The downside to this is we become trigger-happy and may have the tendency to shoot without much thought about composition or lighting. Choosing quantity over quality will not help you hone your photography skills, and using photo editing programs to spice up your hurried shots may not make things better, either. Practice the discipline of getting the shots right in-camera even if you’re using a digital camera. You will grow much more as a photographer this way, plus you will spend less time editing photos. 

4. Be observant – remember when we were children and every object in the whole world seemed to be interesting? The toy box was just as fun to play with as the toy, we could spend hours playing with the dead leaves in the garden, and the whole world just seemed so shiny and exciting. As we mature, we get used to the everyday, ordinary things around us to the point of not even noticing them anymore. Photography (and all the other forms of visual art) reminds us to go back to that stage of constant wonder, to use all our senses (not just sight) to capture in a shot what we want to remember or express.

habit3 6 Good Habits Practiced by Photographers 5. Know your camera – cameras differ in many ways; brand, model, buttons, features, quality, shape, size, and so on and so forth. To make the most out of your camera, you should be very familiar with it, both its capabilities and its limitations. 

6. Practice constantly – if you want to take fantastic shots, practice. This is probably the best good habit a photographer can have. Just like any skill, there is no shortcut to being an expert in this field.  A photographer’s skill evolves through constantly shooting, learning what works and what doesn’t, and applying in the latest shoot whatever has been learned so far. There is only so much that concepts and suggestions from photo books, workshops and other photographers can do. These are easily forgotten if you don’t practice. Since photography deals both with artistic expression and technical expertise, experience is the key to knowing how to balance these two aspects. 


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7 Fantastic Tips to Capture Autumn Images

 

Fall is such a beautiful time of the year, when the bright green leaves of summer turn to red and gold. Rows of trees seem to be colored various shades of sunbeams and the bright blue sky is the perfect backdrop. Autumn is the season for taking breathtaking scenic images and here are some golden guidelines to capture the spirit of the season:

autumn1 7 Fantastic Tips to Capture Autumn Images1.      Use filters – polarizing filters are fantastic for reducing atmospheric haze and boosting the vividness of colors. Skies become bluer and the autumn colors really become enhanced. If you don’t have one, try placing polarized sunglasses over the camera lens as a simple alternative. You can also use warming filters to make the scene appear to have a golden tint. The quick way out if you don’t have one is to add it in post processing. Most photo editing programs have photo filter options you can use to mimic the effect.

2.      Take pictures at dawn or dusk – these are called the ‘golden hours’ or ‘magic hours’, when the sun is near the horizon and it’s rays appear golden as they shine on the scene. The light is more diffused and warm during the first and last hour of sunlight, and it is the perfect time for getting those stunning autumn shots since the lighting adds to the mood.

autumn3 7 Fantastic Tips to Capture Autumn Images3.      Take pictures with overcast skies – when the sun is behind a cloud, it is a good time to take out your camera, not keep it. Overcast days mean indirect and diffused sunlight, less harsh shadows, and you can still capture the various shades of yellow, orange and red in the trees and fields that fall images are known for.

4.      Use contrasting colors – if you want to put emphasis on a certain subject or area in the frame, an effective way to do so is to use color contrasts or light contrasts. For example, red contrasts with green so a red leaf would really stand out against green grass or a green leafy background. Another example is yellow contrasts with blue. You can take advantage of the blue sky as the perfect background to a row of golden trees.

5.      Adjust your white balance setting – this setting affects the color temperature of the image, and you can tweak it to make a scene appear warmer or cooler. Instead of leaving the white balance setting at ‘auto’ mode, choose an appropriate setting that would boost the effect you intend. Since we want warm tones to portray that autumn atmosphere, use the ‘cloudy’ setting to add a warm tone to the shot. Just be careful, though, because sometimes the scene may be already golden and adding a warm tone might be too much.

6.      Have variety – the beauty of autumn is found not only in the vast glorious landscapes but also in a single leaf. autumn2 7 Fantastic Tips to Capture Autumn ImagesYou can shoot in macro and capture the veined details of a leaf that is changing color or take a picture of a lone tree on a hill or a panoramic shot of a field with rows of red gold trees in the distance. You can also include foreground interest such as a person or a structure. 

7.      Don’t forget the holidays – autumn covers a span of approximately three months which vary depending what hemisphere you are in. During this time, holidays and other special occasions may be celebrated which you can take advantage of as subject matter for your shots. For instance, both Halloween and Thanksgiving are celebrated during this season in the northern hemisphere. There are hundreds of photo opportunities to be grabbed during these times so take care not to miss them.

 

 

 

 


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The 365 Photo Days Project

We’re always telling other people as well as ourselves that the best way to get better at photography is to take pictures all the time. All the photo books and tips on technique and inspiration that you read (like this one) will not mean much if you don’t literally pick up your camera and shoot. Here’s a challenge, a major one, which will push you to the limit at times but will surely hone your technique and creativity by the time it is all over.

tissue365 The 365 Photo Days ProjectThe objective is to take a picture a day for an entire year. That’s 365 days, give or take a leap year. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? After all, it doesn’t take much to point the camera at something, click the shutter, and be done with it. Anyone can do it in the space of one second. However, since we are trying to improve our photography skills, we would want to put a little more effort into it. This is where the challenge comes in.

There are two common ways to go about this endeavor:

Random shots – You can take shots of anything that strikes your fancy. There is no pattern or rules to follow; you will just be going with the flow of your mood. The advantage of this is that you will not feel boxed into doing something specific but the downside is there is no guideline to trigger ideas for what to shoot next. Some people prefer the freedom of randomness but others might want to go by a theme instead.

plastic365 The 365 Photo Days ProjectThemed images- You can divide the days into themes so that you will have more focus as to what to shoot. By following a theme or some themes, you can also improve on a specific area in your skills. For instance, if your theme is to take macro shots only, surely by the end of the year you’ll be an expert at this particular approach. Having only one theme can be very difficult, especially in the latter half of the year. To avoid feeling stifled by your theme, pick one that is specific but not limiting. For example, a theme such as ‘macro’ will leave you more room to play with compared to ‘nature macro’. You may also do several themes in the year for more variety. You can do a different theme every month or every week. It’s really up to you as long as you know you can sustain it for a long period of time. If, in the middle of the year, you change your mind and would rather do random shots, that’s perfectly fine, too.

There will be some days when you will feel like giving up, when you won’t even want to go near the camera anymore. To keep yourself motivated, why not show your photos online for others to comment and appreciate? Reading praises or tips on how you can improve your shots can keep your will strong enough to continue with the challenge. You can create a blog or upload in photo sharing sites. Even better, why not sell your daily photos as stock in PhotoStockPlus. This way, you can shoot pictures and earn at the same time.

Many have succeeded in taking a photo a day for a year without any break or lapse in the days. Others have missed a day or two, or even weeks at a time. If you do miss shooting on some days, don’t get discouraged and stop entirely. The point of the exercise is to practice shooting pictures more often than not, and this project is to help you do just that. 


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Shooting Fireworks

There is something about fireworks displays that can totally mesmerize us. They can be so beautiful yet they last for only a few seconds before they vanish into the night sky. Fireworks also mark special occasions which give them added meaning. They offer photo opportunities for anyone who wants to take pictures of the pretty fireworks, regardless of photography skill.

castle fireworks Shooting FireworksIf you have never shot fireworks before in your life, you might find that is easier than you think to capture them in their glory. As always, it’s best to be prepared even before the first of the fireworks bursts into a million points of light high in the sky.

Use a tripod – this will certainly come in handy since your exposure settings will need a slow shutter speed to capture the light trails of the fireworks. Some fireworks shows can also last for thirty minutes to an hour and holding up a camera can be tiring after a while. A tripod will get rid of chances of camera shake and it will also support the camera so you won’t have to keep holding it. If you don’t have a tripod, you can try to keep the camera as steady as possible by other means such as by leaning against a wall while you’re taking the shot or by placing the camera on a steady and secure surface.

Check your camera’s capabilities – find out if your camera can accommodate slow shutter speeds. This should not be an issue for DSLRs and advanced point-and-shoots but regular point-and-shoots may have limited settings. However, most of them have presets such as fireworks mode or low light mode, and you can try using this to see if the fireworks can be captured by your camera.

Adjust the exposure settings – you’ll be dealing with low light situations where your subject matter is far away. A slow shutter speed is needed to capture the movement of the fireworks from the moment it explodes to when it dissipates. This will generally take a few seconds. If your camera has a bulb setting, you can use that since you will have total control over when you want the shutter to close. Although, the sky might be dark, fireworks can be really bright and there is a big chance of overexposure if the shutter is left open for too long. My advice is to take a few test shots before settling on the shutter speed setting. As for the aperture, a small aperture such as f/8 will be sufficient. A small aperture means a larger depth of field and it also lessens the amount of light that enters the sensor which can again cause overexposure. The lower the ISO settings the better since there will be less grain and noise. ISO 100 should do the trick in this case.

crooked fireworks 300x225 Shooting FireworksExperiment – the usual fireworks shot is, of course, the fireworks. However, that is not the only thing that can provide spectacular shots. Look at your surroundings and you might discover that there is potential subject matter that can be just as interesting. Take a picture of the crowd, for example, with their features all aglow with fireworks light. Shoot a specific person’s expression as he or she gazes up in wonder. Remove your camera from the tripod and shoot some fireworks. Most likely the light trails will end up squiggly rather than in neat lines but that might just add to the appeal.

Check your shooting area – Stake out your shooting area and check to make sure you have an unobstructed view of where the fireworks will generally explode. Take note that fireworks shows are very popular and can amass a large crowd of people. A lot of them might stand or hold up their cameras high over the heads of other people. The bright LCDs of their cameras or the silhouette of their heads can show up in your frame and seriously mess up your shot. Pick a spot away from the crowd, or at least make sure your lens will not be blocked.

Frame your shot – Consider how you will frame your shot when shooting fireworks. Choose whether to go with vertical or horizontal (portrait or landscape) framing and this is usually decided by knowing which would better suit the image. Horizontal framing takes notice of the horizon, the landscape or scenery while vertical framing accentuates height.  You can shoot the fireworks by themselves or add the surroundings to place them in context.

 


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