Digital cameras offer so many functions and features that photography can seem too complex for the novice. Frustrated, many new photographers simply switch their digital camera to automatic mode and never learn how to use it correctly.
If you read that and thought “That sounds like me!” she continues reading; I have good news. There are great ways to take better photos without having to learn the intricacies of your camera. That’s right: leave your camera on automatic and still learn how to take great photos.
Of course, I encourage anyone to learn and understand aperture and shutter speed, the settings you’ll need to understand to really improve as a photographer. The best encouragement, though, is to start getting results fast, so here are five easy tips to help you improve your photography… the easy way!
Better Photography Tip #1. Take your photo in the best light possible. You may have heard that the best light for most photography is very early or very late in the day, when the sun is low and the light is soft and colorful. This is a good rule of thumb to follow most of the time. Not only is the light more attractive, you can also avoid the contrast and heavy shadows of midday.
Some subjects actually work better on cloudy days. For animals and people, cloudy weather softens the light and overcomes the problem of the subject squinting at the light. In the forest, overcast skies prevent the strong contrast that is a problem on sunny days.
Better Photography Tip #2. Landscape Photos – Create a more interesting composition. Many photos can be made more interesting not by zooming in directly on the subject, but by zooming out or further out to capture more of the environment. The important thing is to make sure that you use the environment to add impact to the image.
For example, let’s say you’re photographing an old rustic farmhouse. You could add even more character by using a line of fence posts or a gravel path to guide the eye into the picture. Or when photographing a waterfall, you can try going a little further downstream to photograph the stream with the waterfall in the background for a more interesting angle.
Better Photography Tip #3. Sunset and Sunrise. Everyone loves taking sunset (and sunrise) photos. A bright sky at sunset can make a great photo, but you can make it even better by looking for a good close-up subject. The key is to find something that stands out against the sky, with an outline that people can recognize; a tree, a windmill, even a row of electricity poles. The subject does not have to dominate the photo; in fact, it’s probably best if it only takes up about ten percent of the composition so that the sky remains the main attraction. But if you can create a striking silhouette, it will immediately add character to your sunset photography.
Better Photography Tip #4. Animals (and people). Portrait-style photos often look marred by a distracting background. When you take a photo of a friend, pet, or animal, you don’t want the surroundings to take your attention away from your subject.
So here’s the trick. Don’t stand close to your subject and take the photo with a normal or wide angle lens. Try getting further away from your subject and zoom in with your larger lens. This will have two results. First, it will reduce the area behind and around the subject that is visible in the photo. Second, it will minimize the depth of field, which means that only the subject should be in focus. Anything in front of or behind the subject will be out of focus and will not cause distractions.
Tip for better photography #5. to concentrate. Sometimes all it takes to make a photo a hit is to move a little to the left or right, or zoom in or out a little more. If you just point the camera in the general direction of your subject without thinking about what you’re doing, your results won’t improve. If you slow down and really examine what you can see in the viewfinder before you hit the button, your success rate will come into its own.
Simple things to keep in mind include; trees and utility poles that seem to grow out of the subject’s head (move yourself or the subject to a better position); garbage on the ground (pick it up); distracting planes or clouds in the sky (wait for them to pass); fuzzy branches on a windy day (wait for conditions to settle for a bit). All of these things and more can ruin a photo, and they can all be remedied by taking a good look to make sure your image has captured everything you want and nothing you don’t.
Here are some easy tips for great photography without obsessing over technology. Above all, pay attention to tip #5 and slow down to focus on what you’re doing. The other golden rule: keep practicing, take lots of photos whenever you can. You will learn much more from your own experience in the field than from being told what to do. Remember that with digital cameras it costs you nothing to continue photographing. With patience and attention to detail, you’ll be taking better photos in no time, guaranteed!