Happy New Year Everyone!!! Welcome to 2014!!!
As we all know, the celebrating and ringing in of the New Year also brings with it a new found sense of desired personal growth and achievement. Some people call these “Resolutions”. I prefer to skip the dirty “R” word and call them goals. Let’s face it, by the time February rolls around, we have long since fallen of the diet, no more smoking, gym going etc. wagon and we can no longer even remember half of the promises we made to ourselves…so I will stick with goals.
OK….I’ll go first and share with you all a few of my goals for 2014:
1. I want to blog more about all things photography
2. I want to grow my business and continue to learn
3. I want to teach you how to be a better photographer/momtog/mammarazza (Dads NOT excluded here)
4. I want to photograph with a bigger sense of purpose – more on this in an upcoming blog
5. I want to change the world through photography. Why you ask? Well I think it’s only fitting to start the year off with a rather lofty goal – I will talk about this in an upcoming blog also – big ideas in my little brain….I’m pretty excited!!!!
But for right now, I want to talk about point #3.
Have you always wanted to capture pleasing memories while on vacation? Have you ever wanted to create more artistic photos, to be excited and not disappointed in the photos that you have taken; all the while enjoying the process? Have you made it a goal this year to take more family/friend/pet photos? Or how about to better the skills you already possess? Did your spouse buy you a brand new digital camera for Christmas? Do you want to learn what makes a photograph really great? Then I have GOOD NEWS for YOU!!! I want to help! For just $9.99 you can purchase my new e-book…hahahahaha KIDDING (but gosh I have always wanted to say that).
In all seriousness, here are 10 very basic principles to get you started. No complicated lingo and no stress…just simple.
1. Close Encounter (not of the 3rd kind)
Having your subject almost fill the frame helps your viewer understand and appreciate your photo. Details are made more clear and interesting compared to an overall view. Sometimes it isn’t made possible without the use of a large zoom (telephoto) lens.
2. Be Quick on the Draw
If it’s even remotely possible that the subject you are about to capture may make a sudden move, fly away, stop smiling or grow tired of waiting for you to take the photo (think babies, toddlers and pets), take the picture right away!
Just practice getting quicker and quicker to the draw. Don’t worry about all the settings on the camera – just take the picture while the opportunity is there.
3. Compose with Care – Fundamentals
It doesn’t matter that you are not likely submitting your photo to a fine art gallery; it still needs to be balanced for its true beauty to shine.
• Keep the horizon level
• Crop out extra elements that you are not interested in or find distracting
• Deliberately place your subject where you think is best suited rather than wherever it happens to land in the photo
• Play with perspective so that all lines show a pattern or lead the eye to your main subject
• Work with the Rule of Thirds
4. Be Selective – Nit-Picky is Encouraged
Photography is an art and like all art, it is subjective. This is your ticket to be both creative and picky in what interests YOU!! Did your in-laws buy you a new cappuccino maker for Christmas and you’ve finally mastered making the perfect cup? Why not photograph that beautiful steaming cup of elixir – better yet, why not make it a piece of art to hang on the wall of your kitchen?! A fancy new cup and saucer, some biscotti and bold placemat or serving tray and Voila!! – art ready to be captured!
Here are a few tips:
• Be sure to keep anything distracting out of the frame
• Focus in on a close up that tells the whole story
• Move around your subject and capture it from different angles
• Be sure to protect your camera and equipment at all times when liquids are involved
5. Focus on Your Subject
Ever wonder how photographers get that ultra-blurred, dreamy background, yet their subject is in beautiful focus? This is called Depth-of-Field (DOF). This is achieved by playing around with the aperture feature of your digital camera. This means you need to let go of the safety net of shooting in AUTO and head out to navigate the murky waters of MANUAL. This by far the most daunting place to go but this my friends is where the magic happens! Nothing ventured = nothing gained.
Here’s a little tidbit for you to get you started:
• Smaller DOF (Small F-stop #) focuses all of the attention on your subject and creates that oh so dreamy blurry background
• Larger DOF (Large F-stop #) will make everything from here to eternity appear in focus. This is best for landscapes
6. A Moment in Time
One of the most fun components of photography is the element of time. On one hand, we can take an image that happens so slowly we could never see it and the other so quick in real time that we could never notice it. Play with your shutter speed.
Use a slow shutter speed and a tripod to capture a silky image of a flowing creek or waterfall. Or use a fast shutter speed (1/500 and up) to capture an object in motion.
7. Look into the Light
….OK not literally! You do need to be aware of it though. Unless you want a silhouette effect (where your subject is black against an interesting background), it’s generally best to shoot with the sun at your back.
Some things to consider:
• How is the light affecting your subject – are they squinting?
• Is the light shining bright and direct on your subject? This works if you like the bold colors
• Side lighting can add drama but also can cause extreme hard-to-print contrasts
• Indirect light can be used to make your subject glow soft and pretty.
8. Watch the Weather
If it is overcast – keep the sky out of your photos as much as possible. Your subjects will look quite muted against a grey sky and the sky will add to an overall washed out look. Black and white photos of an overcast sky tend to be much more pleasing.
Make the most of a beautiful day!
9. Don’t be Gadget Guy/Girl
I’m still working on training my husband with this one **sigh**
While it is nice to have all the bells and whistles at your disposal, it’s better to master a basic set up for yourself that works in most conditions.
This doesn’t mean keeping your camera set on AUTO, but rather experiment with some of the semi-automatic features such as aperture-priority and master shooting in that mode.
If you are insistent upon having one accessory, invest in a good sturdy tripod. It will help solve camera shake, take beautiful evening shots and, it will prevent you from becoming the elusive momtog (dads too) by allowing you to get into your family pictures too….just be sure to set the timer on your camera!
10. Be Brave….Be Bold
Don’t allow yourself to panic over fear of using the wrong setting. Don’t be afraid to approach strangers to take their photos if you feel there is a story there. Respect them if they say no and move on – after all that was the worst that could happen right?
When photographing wildlife, be sure to observe local bi-laws and tread softly so as to disturb as little as possible. Be wise….but be bold
So there you have it – basic but helpful, I hope. So please go forth and take beautiful pictures that will last a lifetime and please feel free to share these images with me!!
If there is anything you want to learn about in particular, please leave me a comment and I will gladly help you out.
Thank you for reading – please pass this info along to fellow photogs you think will benefit!