Tips for Better Pictures

Learn to Shoot in Manual

So you have this fancy camera and your using it in auto mode and while your pictures are nice they’re not what you envisioned they would be. When you shoot in manual you can take control of your vision and it’s just that much more rewarding. In order to switch over to manual mode, you need to understand the relation between shutter speed, iso, and aperture ( the exposure triangle).  This topic is such a beast, and I promise to dedicate a whole post to it in the future, but for now just remember:

iso-  the sensitivity of the cameras sensor to light

shutter speed-  how long the shutter is open

aperture-  the size of the lens opening

These 3 elements work together to give you the desired exposure you desire.  So for example, I love that creamy smooth background so i like to shoot with a open aperture at about 2.0. When I shoot my kids, I usually need a super fast shutter speed or my pictures are going to be blurry. If I have a really heavy lens, I need a higher shutter speed or I’m going to have motion blur so my hands shaking. So go ahead and practice shooting on manual. I promise you won’t be sorry!

Shooting in manual allowed me to expose for the light. If I had shot this in manual, the camera would have tried to give me a balanced exposure which is not what I wanted.

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Light! Light! Light!

Light is to photography as paint is to a painter. I can’t emphasize enough how much beautiful light adds to and makes a picture. A lot of photographers love to shoot at golden hour ( the time right before sunrise and sunset when the sun is golden).  So try getting out half an hour before the sun is to set or rise and take some pictures. When you’re first starting out try to filter some of that light behind bushes or trees. If you are inside, stand your subject beside a window to get beautiful directional light on them. 

A shot taken at golden hour.

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Learn Basic Composition

I get it composition is boring, but seriously it’s that factor you just can’t explain when you like one photo over another. A good composition puts your viewer at ease while an awkward makes them uncomfortable. While a center composition has its place, it seems to be the one that we retreat to automatically. So try switching it up and putting your subject to the side off center (rule of thirds), or come all the way in and have your subject take up the whole frame, conversely step back and include the environment in the frame. 

Getting up close and framing my subject.

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Edit Your Pictures

Even if editing is not your thing, all pictures can use a tweak in white balance, exposure, and contrast.  I personally love to edit, so I start in Lightroom and move on to photoshop. But you can even edit on your phone using free apps! Lightroom presets are also a quick way to add personality and beautiful color and tones to your pictures.

A little editing helps this picture so much!

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Practice! Practice! Practice!!

Seriously, it doesn’t matter how many books and blogs you read, or how many courses you take, if you don’t practice you are not going to get better. I and I know many other photographers will attribute their biggest growth to shooting everyday or at least every week.  I am a huge advocate of projects that have you shooting every week- like a p52 where you take and edit one picture a week. These projects are much more fun when you have someone to do it with so find a friend or a group. Also, put on your blinders and don’t compare yourself to others. We are all at a different place in our journey and everyone was once a beginner. 

Shokofeh Sora