Here’s a fact: many of us can be amazing photographers. With the innovation and ubiquitousness of digital cameras, many people have the necessary tools to capture great images.
That implies that accessibility isn’t the issue.
The issue is, so many people will tell you that you have the ability to take great images, but fail to get educated on the specific skills needed to take great photos, leaving a skills gap.
Simply put, we are taught to look at the big picture, but no one educates us on the small details. Hence, a lot of budding photographers lack the creative perspective that can bring a significant change in their work (for the better).
For these reasons, you need to motivate yourself to learn new things and to practice so that you can take photos – i.e. so that you’re able to master the things you haven’t gotten around to learn until now. So, we wanted to walk you through the things we believe can bring out the best in you.
Listed below is our compilation of the best tips for taking your photography skills to the next level, working with what you already have and incorporating just a few add-ons.
1. Start Using a Tripod
Bringing in a tripod to support the camera you take images from can dramatically improve the quality of your images. That’s because a tripod offers stability, which makes your pictures come out more balanced. Users also benefit from enhanced sharpness and eliminate the risk of having unwanted components in the frame. Just ensure you’re mounting the tripod on a steady and flat surface.
It’s also worth mentioning that the tripod should fit your shooting camera or DSLR perfectly. After it’s mounted, ensure both the tripod and the camera are horizon leveled. You can check for it using a spirit level; this helps to ensure your images don’t come out slanted. For achieving even better stability (especially if your tripod model is lightweight), hand something beneath the tripod. The hanging object acts as an anchor to stop it from moving when you’re attempting to take still images of a particular scene.
2. Use Lighting to Your Advantage
Lighting truly makes a difference when it comes to photography. It doesn’t matter what type or model of camera you’re using – if the space is too dark your images won’t turn out the best. The safest bet is natural lightning, but photographers should ensure the sun isn’t too harsh. Otherwise, you’ll witness weird shadows in your images. If you have a shoot scheduled to take place outside, opt to work on an overcast day, or on a sunny day’s shade, to incorporate a beautiful natural glow in your pictures.
If you have a photography session scheduled to take place indoors, we recommend investing in artificial lighting such as a ring light. These are easily available on the web, and there are affordable options available for those on a budget. free option for indoor shoots is ensuring you stand in front of a window during the daytime, to take photos in natural light. Also, try not to use the camera’s flash if it produces overly intense lighting, as it can ruin the natural look of your photos.
3. Know How to Use F-Stops
For those who aren’t aware, F-stops are identified on a digital camera or DSLR’s aperture adjustment wheel or LCD screen as wheels in decimals, e.g. f8. f/11, f/5.6, etc. They are also referred to as the camera’s aperture, which dictates how much focus is set for your scene (also called depth of field) and how much light is allowed into the camera. The latter lets you control the light. Selecting f/16 or f/22 ass aperture will reduce the quantity of light in the exposure and would need more time to expose the image.
Additionally, your selected aperture will dictate your depth of field, too. Here’s a quick example to explain what happens: if you select f/22 for a picture, then you’ll have equivalent of 22 meters (or a long focus), and you will have switched off 22 of your bulbs, leading to an image that has all things in focus from far off the horizon to the right in front of your camera, but the image will be dark. If you select the aperture range’s opposite end, for instance, f/4, the result will be the exact opposite. A bit of testing will help you gain a better understanding of how F-stops impact your photos.
Note: Most cameras require the user to dial into “Manual Mode.” This camera mode gives them much more control over the appearance of their images in different situations. By manually configuring the aperture, you’ll be able to get depth field in more creative ways.
4. Play Around with Composition
Photographers can almost always come up with better image compositions after a bit of experimentation. While there’s no harm in taking the first shot standing up, try taking a low angle by laying on the ground for the next one. Next, climb up something near and attempt a shot from a higher angle. Aside from different angles, attempt shots from varying distances as well. Begin with a wide shot, then a mid-range one, and lastly, up-close and personal. In addition, you can try including powerful background, foreground, and midground elements, to convey scale.
If you’ve to shoot a mountain range, search for a river, flower, or a rock to include in the foreground. That’ll add a 3-dimensional feel to your image, drawing the eyes of the viewer to the rest of the image. Focal compression is another smart compositional tactic that photographers can experiment with. Compression is when a zoom lens is used subtly to trick the viewers’ eye into thinking objects are nearer than they are in reality.
5. Get Familiar with The Features of Your Camera
Irrespective of what model of camera you are using you should be aware of its features and how to utilize them to produce the best results. Whether you’re using a smartphone camera, a point, and shoot, or a DSLR; gaining a thorough understanding of how the device functions and what it can do will open up several new possibilities and enable you to utilize it to its full potential. Of course, the best place to begin is the device’s manual.
Honestly, manuals aren’t the most incredible reading material, so several photographers neglect them, but they offer a lot of valuable information that could enhance the quality of your photography. It doesn’t necessarily have to be read from cover to cover. Skim through and see if you can spot anything that’s new to you. You may also come across helpful tips from various blogs and websites. Also, you can perform a Google search for the model of your camera to find guides and tutorials that may teach stuff that isn’t in the manual.
6. Keep a Check On Your White Balance
Most cameras try to automatically set the white balance based on the type of light in which the photographer is shooting. Different forms of light will cast different color types – tungsten lighting is yellow, fluorescent lighting is slightly green, and sunlight gives off blue. In most cases, the kind of light you’re under will be detected by your camera automatically, and the colors in images will be adjusted so that they come off as natural.
However, when White Balance is out of alignment, the results can be way off. If your camera is having a difficult time figuring things out, or if you’re using mixed lighting for your photography session, it’s best to set White Balance manually. If you’re using a point and shoot model, you’ll have to configure the shooting menu to adjust White Balance, but many DSLR’s have a separate button for White Balance, often referred to as “WB.” Colors can be corrected with a photo editing software later on, but it’s better to get White Balance spot on in the original image itself.
7. Put Your Mind into It
Photography is not about White Balance and knowing the capabilities of your camera; it’s also about seeing what’s there in front with a creative mind. Doing so requires attention, time, and dedication. Slow down and make a genuine effort of getting familiar with your surroundings. Focus on the details. Are the trees in a pleasant spot? If not, will they look better if you move a few steps ahead? Do all this before pressing the shutter. If you don’t have some patience to experiment, you might miss an award-winning photo opportunity.
Here’s some inspiration: when taking images of the Northern Lights in Iceland, several photographers spend nights camping in cold weather at a near-perfect location, waiting for the magical aurora borealis to pop up. And when it finally does, they’ll spend a few more hours to take images that are the biggest colors possible. The difference between them and those who capture lackluster photos is mental strength, so put your mind into photography whenever you’re going to a session.