Photo Tips Collage
If you just got a shiny new digital camera during the past holiday break you are probably excited to take some beautiful pictures to show online or with your friends and students. Many people expect the camera to simply take what we want the picture to look like in our imaginations, and end up less than impressed with what develops either on our computers or developing lab and they wonder, “Why can’t my picture look better?”
I’ve got good news for you and your new camera. You can take better pictures and I’ll give you some secrets I picked up along the way to becoming a photojournalist. Here are a few free tips to get you started this new year from someone’s who’s been taking pictures for over ten years.
My composition on composition. One easy way to get a better balanced composition is to use the “rule of thirds,” which is basically a way to keep your subject away from the direct center of your image. If you ever want to sound fancy in front of other camera aficionados feel free to say you live by the “rule of thirds,” and for effect raise your pinky when you say it! Kidding aside, take a look at your favorite images of people and you may notice that the photographer rarely sticks the subject dead center. Not only does this trick lead the viewer’s eyes in a viewing direction, it gives the image a certain weight for our imagination to use. Now, what can you do with that information? Try for example, putting a picture of a stop sign slightly to the left near a street. It adds a bit of drama and more often looks pleasing to the eye. It works surprisingly well, no matter how fancy (or inexpensive) your camera is.
Taking indoor pictures isn’t easy, is it? Some people wonder why, right out of the box photos taken indoors end up looking too dark or grainy. If you are shooting something like a play in the audience, I’ve got bad news for you. The picture won’t be what you imagined. Darkness + high zoom + movement = blurry subjects. Most cameras have a flash, but the distance only goes about 6-8 feet and then the light will trail off dramatically. If your subject is farther than eight feet, try to get closer or you’ll just get darkness or a blurry, grainy picture. If you can’t get closer and the subject isn’t moving, use a tripod or steady surface. You’ll get a crisp image that will look much better than if you shoot handheld.
Another favorite tip for getting a great photo of people is to look for dramatic angles or levels of depth. I always try to find a complementing background to someone’s smiling face and if the traditional portrait isn’t working, I change the height of my camera and move closer in; I can move from 12 feet to as close as three. During this time I don’t zoom in, but literally move in and get lower or higher to increase the emotional drama of the composition. It sounds complicated but it’s not and it works better than expected. Just move around and keep clicking that camera until your memory card is full, then pick your favorites when you are done. That’s the beauty of digital photography.
I’ll be back with more tips in the months ahead. Happy photo hunting!