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6 Tips for Taking Digital Photography up a Notch!
Digital Photography for Beginners: Simple steps for Better Photos
Let's look at 6 quick tips for taking digital photography up to a higher level. Getting to grips with the basics of digital photography will help you understand why some photos are just so much better than others!
Whatever equipment you happen to own, there's lots you can do to improve your pictures - from thinking about the principles of photography composition to mastering some simple digital camera settings. These suggestions will help you start to take control of your camera and turn out consistently great photos!
Take Your Time!
The temptation to rush into taking a picture is obviously much stronger with digital cameras than it was with film. There's no waste - just delete and move on if it's rubbish!
But this 'pot-luck' approach is a really bad idea. You'll just end up with hundreds of bad photos instead of a few good ones! So the first of my top tips for taking digital photography further is to always take time and find a worthwhile subject. It's also worth bearing in mind some key principles of photography composition.
When looking for a subject, don't dive in and start shooting everything that crosses your path. Wait for something that catches your eye and is truly photo-worthy! When you have found a good subject think about how best to arrange it within the frame of the viewfinder. What looks best? How could you improve on your last attempt?
Be hyper-critical of your pictures as you look at them on the preview screen. No-one ever takes the perfect photo! There's always something to improve on.
These 2 articles will make a handy introduction to some of the guidelines of photography composition:
This is one of the most crucial tips for taking digital photography up to the next level. Sooner or later you are going to have to get the hang of the manual controls on your camera.
I know that 'auto' mode is incredibly convenient but it really does reduce the control you have over the visual character of your photos. Plus, there's nothing to be afraid of - it's incredibly simple!
Here are 2 articles that will guide you through the digital camera settings for aperture and shutter speed. These really are the basics of digital photography so it's definitely worth understanding them:
- Digital Photography for Beginners: What is Aperture?
- Digital Photography for Beginners: What is Shutter Speed?
Aperture and shutter speed combine to determine how much light enters the camera when you take a picture. This produces the exposure - how bright a photo is. But aperture and shutter speed settings also affect other things:
- The appearance of motion.
A fast shutter speed ensures moving objects are stopped in their tracks and captured clearly and crisply. Meanwhile a slow shutter speed results in motion being blurred. Controlling the shutter speed allows you decide which of these you would prefer for a particular shot.
- Depth of field.
Depth of field is the area either side of your subject that is in focus. Setting a wide open aperture produces a small depth of field (blurry background) and vice versa. Landscape photos often look best with a large depth of field, whilst portraits can benefit from having the background blurred to emphasise the subject.
Discover Famous Photographers
Looking at other people's photos is definitely one of my top tips for taking digital photography up a notch! There are so many amazing photographers out there whose work can be a source of ideas and inspiration for you.
The Famous Photographers section of Photography Art Cafe will point you in the direction of some great snappers! You might want to start with this list:
As you get to know other people's photos you'll want to emulate some of the best things about them. That might be the tonal range of an Ansel Adams landscape, the emotional subtlety of a Yousuf Karsh portrait or the perfect composition of a Henri Cartier-Bresson documentary image!
Review Your Camera
Too often people expect a better camera to automatically produce better photos. As the above tips for taking digital photography up a level show, much more is down to how you use it.
But if you do find yourself frustrated by the limitations of your current model, it could be time to look for something new. For example, many compact cameras offer few or no manual controls. Luckily, compacts are getting better all the time, with plenty enabling full control of aperture and shutter speed settings.
So it's not necessary to assume you have to go for a DSLR if you want to take great photos. Here is a guide to compact cameras and a selection of reviews of my favourite models.
But DSLR's do offer some marked advantages.
First up, if you like to print out your photos at a decent size, or even have them printed as posters, the larger sensors of DSLR cameras allow you to do this without losing quality.
DSLR cameras have interchangeable lenses, which gives you a lot more options. For example wildlife and sport photography is almost impossible with a compact. But with a DSLR just attach a telephoto lens and get right in on the action!
This guide to digital cameras will help you assess your current equipment and decide whether you need a change: Basics of Digital Photography: Understanding Digital Cameras
Here are some reviews of good quality DSLR's:
Shoot in a Raw File Format
The Raw file format is an alternative to the JPEG format in which photos are often saved. So why is it on my list of tips for taking digital photography up a level?
Well, basically, it gives you a better chance of creating photos that are technically spot on. When you take a JPEG photo, a range of adjustments are automatically applied, like white balance and colour saturation.
But with Raw files only the 'raw', unprocessed information is recorded and these little details are left unspecified. That allows you to tweak them in Photoshop so that they appear exactly as you want them.
Exposure, saturation, contrast, white balance and so on can all be set retrospectively. How brilliant is that!? You can create perfect images by selecting crucial settings after they are first created!
These guides will help you out:
Use a tripod
Using a tripod will make a massive difference to your photography. It's one of my top tips for taking digital photography further. What will you gain from using a tripod?
- Sharper photos. Attaching your camera securely to a tripod eliminates the risk of camera shake and produces nice sharp, clear images.
- Freedom over depth of field. With your camera held in place you are free to slow down the shutter speed to compensate for a small aperture (large depth of field), without producing blur.
- Night photography. Tripods open up night photography because you can slow the shutter enough to produce well exposed pictures in very low light. This is probably not digital photography for beginners, but it's fun to experiment with. Here is an article to help you out: Night Photography Techniques
- Deliberate motion blur. Again, the slow shutter speeds that tripods enable make it possible to deliberately capture motion blur, without blurring the entire picture
- Still life and portraiture. A tripod enables you to pay more attention to your subject as you set up a shot, with your camera held in position. This is really handy for portrait and still life photography.