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My Top 30 Beginners' Photography Tips (21 - 30)
21. Explore Great Photography
Photography is no different to any other art in that seeing how a master does it inspires you to go out and seek to emulate their work. I strongly encourage you to check out some great photography, and to read about it. By emulating other people’s style you will eventually arrive at something that is uniquely yours.
I’ve tried to make Photography Art Café a good place to begin this journey, by including introductory information about a host of famous photographers. Visit the Famous Photographers section to have a look.
22. Zooming In Is Not A Way Of ‘Getting Closer’
Focal length impacts photos in so many ways, for example: available aperture size, sharpness and angle of view. But the really important thing that focal length determines is perspective. That is what choosing a telephoto, or a standard, or a wide angle lens influences.
The wider the angle, the greater the sense of depth and the larger foreground objects appear in relation to background objects. This is a brilliant characteristic to apply to landscape photos, but can often be unflattering or funny in portraits.
Long lenses, meanwhile, always produce a more compressed image (not, in fact because of the lens, but simply your necessary placement at a greater distance from the subject). This is often very effective for portraits and wildlife, where the main subject can be isolated from the blurry background (telephoto lens tips).
So choosing a focal length is not a negative choice: “I can’t get closer”/“I don’t feel like walking all the way over there”. But a positive one: “I want a large foreground to draw the viewer in, and a sense of depth”/ “I want to compress this scene and eliminate background distractions”.
23. Don’t Become A DSLR Snob
The other day I was on a boat, with about £1000 of photography equipment around my neck. I kept trying and struggling to lean over various obstacles to get some shots from interesting angles. I was partly concerned about the safety of my DSLR, and partly unable to position it where I wanted.
So I reached into my pocket and started shooting with my iPhone camera, which actually yielded some pretty cool results. On other occasions, particularly when walking along the street, I’ve been without my camera and noticed something crying out to be photographed. Then it’s iPhone to the rescue once again.
The quality of compact cameras and phone cameras is startlingly good these days. Plus, they are sometimes a whole lot easier to shoot with than a bulky DSLR. So use all the tools available to you for taking pictures, and don’t have a prejudiced view against any of them.
24. Learn At Your Own Pace
Lots of amateur photographers spend many, many years slowly picking information. That’s great, keep plugging away at it – you’ll get there. Improvement may seem slow, but take a look at your photos from 2 ,4 ,6 years ago and see how much you’ve learnt.
Everybody learns differently, and there’s no telling how good a photographer you can be until you’ve applied yourself to it in your own time, for as long as you need. Ignore the know-alls, they usually think they have nothing more to learn, which is their loss.
25. Think Of A Photo As A Story
I find this a big help, especially when composing the scene in my viewfinder. It’s very difficult to tell a story in one single image. In many ways that’s the skill of a photographer - to capture the key decisive moment. But a visual story can be anything that leads the viewer in and takes them on a journey.
I like photos where everything is not immediately obvious. Perhaps a street scene that takes some working out, or a landscape that draws you in through the foreground and slowly takes your eye through the whole complex environment. Put yourself in the position of the viewer and ask whether there is enough in a shot to sustain interest for more than a second or two (photography composition tips).
26. Use A Colour-Managed Workflow
Because photography is fundamentally a simple process, it’s easy to forget about the many pitfalls. One of these lies in the management of colour as it passes from camera, to monitor, to printer. It’s essential to use a calibrated monitor and appropriate printer profile if you print your images at home.
I recruited professional printer and landscape photographer David Fleet to provide a full explanation of colour-management for beginners.
27. Photograph Family And Friends More
What were the things you wanted to photograph the most before you became interested in photography itself? For almost all of us the answer is family and friends. But most of us pretty soon begin neglecting this for more ‘creative’ subjects and projects.
This is already a regret of mine, and for the last few months I’ve been making a concerted effort to produce more pictures of my family especially. The great thing is, that having spent so long mastering my camera, I’ve now got the beginnings of a family album that will be the best ever!
28. The LCD Screen Is Tiny – Use The Histogram To Preview Exposure
When it comes to assessing the exposure of a photo you’ve just taken, the 3”preview on your LCD screen just doesn’t cut it. Instead, start using the histogram, which provides a crystal clear overview of exposure in graph form (darks/shadows to the left and lights/highlights to the right).
It looks like a slightly scary, technical feature. But that’s not the case and it’s dead easy to use. Personally, I like to expose slightly to right (i.e. marginally ‘overexposed’), but you can work out the best system for you. Here’s a full guide to using the histogram on your camera.
29. Set Yourself High Standards
I know that photography is all about having fun, capturing the moment etc. But it can be incredibly rewarding when you start to really improve. It’s tough to manufacture true motivation, but I would encourage you to always be a little bit dissatisfied with what you’ve done. Photos almost never live up to the mental picture we have of exactly what we are aiming for. But that’s good – it’s the edge of growth.
So, when someone on Flickr says, “Wow! This is beautiful!!!!!!”, you do know they don’t always mean it don’t you? Apply the same sense of taste that informs your reaction to other people’s photos to your own. Eventually you will be taking genuinely beautiful photos.
30. Use Fast ISO Speeds, They’re Not The Enemy
Leaving aside the fact that ISO performance on most modern cameras is squeaky clean, I want to stress that noise is not a big deal. Sure, you wouldn’t expect to see a noisy landscape photo, where a tripod should be used to enable slow shutter speeds. But for hand-held shots in tricky light, ISO settings are your friend.
In the trade off between camera shake and noise, a bit of noise is far the best option if it enables you to capture the subject with decent sharpness. In any case, doesn’t a bit of graininess sometimes add a certain something to an image?
These 2 guides from DPS are highly recommended and have transformed