The digital camera has undeniably revolutionized the way we take pictures. Although film-based cameras always had a strong following, more people are taking up photography as a hobby thanks to the ease-of-use afforded by new digital technology.
After getting a new digital camera, you can quickly become bored with the same old family portraits and holiday event pictures. If you want a solid foundation, A Beginner’s Jumpstart Guide to Photography is a great way to learn the basics.
You may be wondering what you can do to start taking more attractive, professional looking pictures with your digital camera. The Internet is full of suggestions about various ways to take better looking pictures, but some of these require expensive equipment (such as filters and lenses) or expensive software (like Photoshop).
The five tips contained in this article are designed to give you better looking pictures without anything but your camera and your own desire to consistently frame professional quality pictures.
Most handheld cameras are designed to be held horizontally. All the buttons are designed for stable shots from this horizontal position. The problem is that life isn’t always horizontal. It can be difficult to get the shot you want if you rely on holding the camera a single way.
Professional photographers move the camera all around to get different angles in their frames. You can do the same thing to create better looking images. Simply turn the camera sideways and take vertical pictures. Especially when you are taking pictures of people (who are definitely not horizontal), turning your camera vertically captures these images the way a professional would.
Turn Off the Flash
Most digital cameras include an automatic flash. Although flash does have some uses like fill-in flash, in most cases, the flash actually hurts the quality of your picture.
Subjects photographed using a flash tend to look washed out or like they are caught in the oncoming headlights of a tractor-trailer. Neither of these are ideal photo opportunities. Unfortunately, many people rely on the camera’s judgment about when to use the flash and the camera is often wrong.
By turning off your flash, you may have to hold the camera steady longer to account for longer exposure times, but natural lighting is always your best bet. Even low light conditions can be photographed effectively without using your flash.
For the situations where you absolutely need flash, What the Flash shows you how to do it right.
Pictures that are taken from far away scream amateur. This doesn’t mean you need some super expensive zoom lens to take better pictures; all you need is to take a few steps closer to your subject.
Many people try capturing some of the background to give the picture some sort of relevance. Believe it or not, you don’t need as much background as you think. Getting closer to your subject almost always results in a more dramatic photograph that looks like it was taken by a professional.
About the only time you want to remain far away is when you are trying to show the difference in size between two objects. For instance, a picture of your friends standing in front of the Grand Canyon should be taken far away for proper perspective. If you’re not sure about using this technique, give a try. Chances are you’ll find your pictures come out much better when you take just a few extra steps closer to your subject.
Portrait Photography with Simple Gear teaches you how to master close-up portrait techniques.
The Rule of Thirds
This technique has been used by artists for centuries and works equally well for photography. To use the Rule of Thirds correctly, imagine that your camera’s viewfinder is broken up into 9 squares of equal size. Some cameras actually have a “grid” mode that simulates the Rule of Thirds.
By aligning your subject with these lines (especially where they intersect), you almost always take a better looking picture. It’s very easy to line up your subject directly in the center of the frame and shoot – but these pictures are typically boring.
Learning how to use the Rule of Thirds isn’t difficult. Mastering it, however, can be challenging. Especially if you do not have a camera that superimposes the grid in your viewfinder, it can take some practice to figure out exactly where you should frame your subject. The best part about this technique is that it’s almost impossible to take a worse picture than you would if you weren’t using it so why not give it a try?
Almost every camera has a wide angle lens. This allows your camera to look at a very wide view of the world. Have you ever noticed how images look smaller in a picture than they do in real life? This is because of the wide angle lens.
Your digital camera probably has a zoom feature. It may be optical, digital, or both. Especially when taking portrait shots, take a couple of steps back and use the zoom to narrow the focus of the camera slightly. This gives you a close-up of the subject space without the feature distortion that sometimes occurs when taking close-up pictures using a wide-angle lens.
This same technique is often used in macro photography; taking close-up pictures a very small things. If you put your camera lens right in front of the subject, it will be blurry and distorted at best. A couple steps back and a little bit a zoom results in a professional looking close-up. Mastering Macro Photography shows you how fun macro photography is when done correctly.
Many experts will tell you that you need a $2,000 camera and expensive computer programs to create professional looking images. This is simply not true. Sure – these things do help; especially as you get into more advanced photography techniques, but they are by no means necessary. You can start taking professional looking pictures now using these five tricks. You will probably surprise yourself with the results.