I’ve just finished an intermediate photography course and I wish I could say I understood everything and am able to fully apply all I’ve been taught. But unfortunately learning how to compose a great shot and get it right takes time and a tremendous number of shots.
For example – in one class we had to bring in a photo of motion; some people took in excess of 400 shots before they got the one they wanted. I didn’t have much time and tried to work with my lazy dog – see photo below. One guy took hours filling up balloons with water, then pricking them and catching the water exploding out. Brilliant idea but it took a lot of patience to get the one perfect shot.
I still have plenty to digest but I did want to share these useful photography tips and facts I learned in my course.
- In Canada, the term of the copyright is from the time the photo was taken until the remainder of the year you die, plus 50 years. That’s not too much of a problem unless you’re photographs are really worth something.
- An ultraviolet filter will cause a loss of 3% sharpness. That has to be weighed against the fact it acts as an excellent lens protector.
- A polarizing filter reduces glare and saturates colours. But you lose the equivalent of two f-stops. To use the filter turn it 90 degrees to the light source. This is a GREAT filter on bright, sunny days.
- A neutral density filter is useful for slowing the shutter speeds or opening the aperture. It’s used to achieve motion blur effects with slow shutter speeds.
- A graduated neutral density filter is the next must have piece of equipment for me. It deepens the exposure of the sky while providing regular exposure for the land. It’s an especially great tool for mountain shots.
- A prime lens will always give you a clearer picture than a zoom lens but you’re stuck with that focal length.
- Rent a lens before buying it to see if it’s what you really want. Often the rental fee will be applied to the lens purchase. A reputable US company to buy used equipment from is KEH.
Shots that are pleasing to the eye have some of the following characteristics:
- When composing a shot with people in it, try to have the subject doing something. Also help set the location. For example, we would all know someone was in England if there was a red phone box in the photo.
- Use the rule of thirds for positioning your subject – and ideally place them on the intersection of horizontal and vertical lines.
- Use geometry in your images – things like triangles or spirals. And if you shoot three or more people try to set them up in a triangle.
- Give some place for your subject to move. If the photo is of people walking allow them room to continue walking in the photo.
- A waterfall photo is even more powerful if you capture where the water’s coming from.
- Frame your photo. A classic is a branch in a landscape shot.
- If you want to slim someone down, don’t use a wide angle lens.
- Change your perspective.
- Use manual focus at night, with a macro lens and when shooting fast moving sporting events.
- Heading off on a trip and want to know exactly the angle of the sun. Then check out the sun angle tool.
- Use your flash to fill in shadow on a sunny day.
- A spot meter is good for portraits. Take a reading on the subject’s eye.
- When taking a photo of anything live, make sure you get the catch lights – the reflections in the eye – or else they look flat or dead.
When taking pictures of people:
- Establish a rapport first. Ask them what they would like to accent or diminish.
- Watch your backgrounds and make especially sure your subject’s head isn’t growing a lamp post or a tree.
- Light from higher up gets rid of shadows.
- The worst flash is one that hits the subject straight on.
- Beware the range of your flash. Most are only fifteen feet.
Here are some tips if you’re in a studio type setting.
- If a person has a narrow chin, have them tilt their chin up.
- Minimize the effects of an angular nose by turning the subject’s face towards the lens.
- If someone has protruding eyes get them to look downward.
- Consider a profile shot if someone has prominent ears. Hide the far ear and keep the near ear in shadow.
- For heavy set people use short lighting, dark clothing and a dark background.
- Avoid shining a light on the top of a bald subject’s head. Lower the camera position and work to blend the top of the head in with background tones.
- For a wrinkled face use diffused light. Lower the main light.
HDR (High dynamic range) photography is gaining popularity.
- Use a tripod for these shots.
- Take three to six pictures with different exposures. It’s best to bracket your shots.
- Try out free software for two weeks from Photomatix.
I’ll leave you with a few interesting facts that show how far we’ve come in a short time.