How to take better photos

Jean Claude Reuille01-Sep-2020

Travel is momentary and we take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone. When we travel we never know that we are capturing memories. It is beautiful when you see the world through the lens of a camera. It is an impression that only expensive equipment can result in good photos. But it is not a fact.

Here are some tips for both beginner and experienced, about how you can take your photography to the next level:


Get in close

As said by famous photojournalist, Robert Capa- “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” If you think that your images are not popping, then take a step closer to your subject. Your subject should fill the frame so that you can see the facial expressions better.


Fresh perspective

Seek new ways of capturing professional shots. You can use the floor or click through a crowd instead of placing your camera on a tripod. The pictures are more engaging when you elevate your position in reference to the subject or crouch down. Changing the perspective can change the dynamics of the image. If you are crouching, it will make your subject look dynamic and powerful. Try out clicking pictures from the non-obvious spots. If you are working on capturing a city, then a high perspective is required to shoot down so that the whole city can be visible from there. It creates a massive impact on the composition of your photo. So before clicking, think about perspective.


Use Rule of Thirds

It is the basic principle that photographers are taught to use to create well balanced and eye-catching shots. To add a wow factor in your pictures, imagine breaking a picture into thirds (horizontally and vertically both) so that you have 9 parts. You have this in mind through your viewfinder or on LCD display used to frame the shot.  


With the grid in mind, according to the rule of thirds, there are four significant parts of the image that need to focus on while framing your subject. It also provides four lines useful for elements in the image. The theory states that if the points of interest are placed in the intersections or along the lines then the image will be more balanced. 


Studies have shown that the viewer’s eyes go on to intersection points naturally than to the center of the picture. Before using the rule of thirds, have two questions in mind, what are the points of interest in the shot and where you are placing them in the grid. Check the edges of the scene on the screen.


Use golden hours to shoot

In the golden hours, the light is softer and colors appear more vibrant. Enjoy shooting portraits and landscapes during early mornings and late afternoons (after sunrise or before sunset) when the daylight is soft, red and beautiful. Check for the sunrise/sunset timings in advance. For landscape photography, shoot before sunrise/sunset and for portrait photography, shoot two hours after sunrise and two hours before sunset.


Shutter speed

Experiment with shutter speed to create incredible effects. You need to decide between a blurry and sharp image first in mind. For example, if you are capturing fast action like a sporting event where people are running, then use a shutter speed over 1/500th of a second, if not 1/100th to 1/200th.  When taking a night shot, use a shutter speed at 4 seconds. You will end up clicking movement of the object along with light trails. Try shooting crowd of people or waves on the beach with different shutter speeds to capture blurred movements or that can freeze everything sharply. Make sure the camera is stable when capturing blur movement.


Focal Length

Remember to keep it simple. Fiddle less with zooming. If you are working on series, keep the same focal length to maintain consistency.


Notice the light

While clicking pictures, see where the light is coming from so that you can use it to your advantage. Depending on natural or artificial light, you can decide how to use it to improve your skills. You can see if the light is highlighting an area or creating a shadow effect.


Use flash in daytime

You may think that flash can be used only indoors or when it is dark, but when it is a bright day outside and the sun is creating shadows on the subject, switch on the flash. More light will fill in those ugly shadows and create an even exposure. 


Avoid using flash for indoors as it can make your pictures look unnatural.


Create the right ISO

The ISO is the camera’s sensitivity to light and is displayed in a number like 100, 200 or 400. When shooting in the middle of that day, lower ISO to 100/200. If shooting in the night time, increase the ISO to 400-3200 to record the light on camera’s sensor. Basically, ISO increases the pixel size in the photo and avoids blurring.


Manual Mode

Learn to first click pictures on manual mode so that you can understand how the camera works. Then you can easily fix where you are going wrong.


Invest in photography books

Rather than spending thousands of bucks on camera equipment, invest in photography books and get inspired by the work of masters. You will get ideas as to which angles could be better. Think twice before spending on cameras. Purchase some books that could give you an understanding of the basics.


Read camera’s manual

To start your photographic journey, go through the manual first. If you go through them, you will figure out what is your camera capable of.


Slow pace

Take it slow and decide how are you going to compose the shot. How will you play with light? Do not just press the shutter without giving any thought.


Avoid chimping

Many photographers have the habit of taking photos and immediately looking at the back of the screen. Amidst this, you can miss capturing the precious moments. So go with the flow and keep shooting.


Framing

This technique lets you draw attention to the subject. Framing your subject, for example with an archway or a window, the viewer’s attention goes on to the primary focal point.


Shape with light

Avoid shooting with the sun behind you. It creates a flat line on the subject. If you capture with the light behind the subject, you will end up creating a more interesting photo.


Watermarks

Though this is for people who are professional and want to protect their photos from getting copied. It has nothing to do with taking photos but it affects the look of the photos, so smaller the watermark, better the picture.


Make eye-contact with subject

Engage your subject and listen to your subject by making eye-contact. Be present for the subject as it indicates your respect for them and calms them down. It is better to click with a subject who feels free and confident. It will relax your subject.


Join photographic community/clubs

You can publish your pictures for others to see and also receive feedback and tips on your pictures. There can be an exchange of ideas that will eventually improve your technique. Besides, you can also join online photography clubs to have more information on events worth attending. You can also consider a photography workshop to learn from professionals.


Always carry a camera

Keeping a camera helps you to click spontaneous moments around you. Never miss out on unique moments. 


Use fewer elements

Do not include too many elements in your picture as it makes it messy. Less the number of points of interest, less the audience be confused with what to look at.


Minimize equipments

There is no need to carry multiple lenses. One or two lenses will keep your body free and you will be comfortable moving to capture unique angles.


Play with simple backgrounds

Be careful about what is in the frame. Everything in the picture including background can make a great picture. Use simple backgrounds to avoid distractions. Choose simple patterns and neutral colors. It lets the viewer focus on the subject.


Shoot in the shade

If the light available is not working for you, then shoot in the shade. What you will get out of this is an even exposure minus the patchy highlights.


Spend less time post-processing

Try to get it right in the camera itself so that you do not have to spend a lot of time editing the shot until and unless you want to get an artsy effect. If it takes a longer time to edit, then consider reshooting to improve the shot. A pro tip is that crop an image you have edited to achieve something different. The results might surprise you.


Avoid camera shake

Try to keep your camera stable to capture clear images. Support the lens by cupping your hands underneath it. Do it with your left hand while using the right hand to have a good grip on the camera body. Try using a tripod to avoid blurred shots.


Palette   

Try to focus on one or two colors in the photograph until you are taking a photo of a rainbow or anything that requires you to play with numerous color options. Using fewer colors will please the eye and help in setting the tone of the picture.


Practice

The best way to become good at photography is to practice and that is how you can hone your skills. Spend hours clicking pictures. Technical skills improve over time.


Take inspiration from all forms

Try to look at different styles, angles, technical elements and see what the photographer is trying to say.


Move it from the middle

Click more realistic pictures by moving your subject away from the middle of your shot.


Flash’s range

Take pictures within the flash range. Pictures taken beyond the range will be dark. For many cameras, the maximum range is less than fifteen feet-around five steps away. If you cannot find it, then stand ten feet away from the subject.


Add polarizer filter to checklist

The best decision is to purchase a circular polarizer as it helps to reduce the reflections from water, metal and glass.


Shoot in RAW

Set the mode to RAW in your DSLR and get a lot of colors to play within the unprocessed image. It gives you more flexibility than in a JPEG image. 


Add a sense of depth

Shoot in landscape whenever you want to create a sense of depth in your shot. For a panoramic view, use a wide-angle lens and a small aperture to keep the background sharp.


Get the settings right

Adapt to the situation and change settings whenever required. Know the basics of how your camera works and keep the settings right. Do not rely on the camera’s automatic settings else you will not be able to make the pictures professional.


The above tips will help you with taking better photos. But you can also try pro tips like shooting the same location at different times of the day and year. Experiment by shooting with new things. Install Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to store, process and organize the pictures. Look for patterns and symmetry. Make your subject pop by using Bokeh. Invest in lighting equipment and try out with a light reflector. Digitally style your photos. Play with reflections. Avoid zooming in. 


Create abstracts and take candids. Attach the external lens. We hope the collective thoughts will help you in being a better picture director. Rest you shall pick up along the way. Have fun!

Written by "Jean Claude Reuille" on 01-Sep-2020

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