While you can’t obviously learn everything in one photo article, this article gives you five basic tips to start using right away. Whether you have a point-and-shoot camera and rely on preset modes or you are now the proud, albeit confused, owner of a professional SLR camera, there are certain basics that once understood will send you on your way towards taking extraordinary pictures. Here are five important and easy to use tips that you can start using right away.
1) Resolve to Have Enough Resolution
Although a low resolution setting saves space on your memory card, it doesn’t make suitable prints. You can easily resize for a smaller picture, even in free programs like Picasa (“resize” is hidden there under “export”), but making a picture larger usually brings awful results. When you enlarge the photo, the pixels that make up the picture are spread thinner.
If you like printing your images, choose medium or high resolution. Depending on your camera, 3 megapixels should give you high quality 4×6 images and sometimes even a very nice 8×10. For excellent quality 11×14′s go for 6 megapixels.
2) Let There be Light (but Make it the Right Kind)
Natural lighting is usually best, so don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy flash and reflectors. If your only flash is the built-in one, that’s all the more reason to opt for natural light. Built in flashes can make a subject look flat. That is why professional photographers use an external flash and bounce light off photo umbrellas. There are inexpensive tricks you can do like wearing a white shirt or taping foil to the camera to bounce the light off the ceiling, but if you want an easy way to get professional quality photos without extra equipment it’s best to go outdoors.
When taking pictures outdoors, consider the position of the sun. With the exception of sunrise and dawn, the lower the sun is in the sky the better. You should also try to avoid noon as this time brings the harshest shadows. Unless the sky is part of your photograph, bright overcast days produce the best light.
3) Compose a Perfect Picture
Getting a fast snapshot of something without any thought mostly depends upon luck. But by first learning how to compose a photo, you will end up with more pictures that look good and are suitable for framing. The pictures you take will look more like what you had in mind when you clicked the shutter release.
There is a lot to learn about photo composition, but for starters, here is the number one rule. Fill the frame of the viewfinder. First, decide on what is the most important subject in your photo and then move close enough (or zoom-optical zoom is best) to fill the viewfinder with the subject. For example, if the subject is your mother watering her roses then she is the subject not her entire rose garden. Many make the mistake of losing their subjects in the landscape.
4) Steady Now
It doesn’t take much camera movement to create a blur, in fact most times, you’ll never even notice the movement until you see the blurry picture. For sharp pictures, keep your elbows down, feet apart and firmly planted and hold the camera steady while pressing (not punching) the shutter release. Continue holding still until the light indicates the camera has finished taking the picture. When you are taking a photo that needs a slower than usual shutter speed, like a fireworks display, use a tripod to steady the camera. You can even use a bunched up coat on a wall with a remote shutter release. A good rule of thumb is to use a tripod for shutter speeds slower than 1/60.
5) Share Your Creations
If your pictures are digital, use a photo editor to resize the copies of your photos (save originals first) down to the appropriate size for your website, email or picture frame. You should use photo paper that is compatible with your printer model for best results. If you’re using a film camera but want photos for email or a website, use a quality scanner or when dropping off film to be developed, request a CD.
Frame your best photographs for hanging on your walls or displaying on a table. A framed picture also makes a very welcome gift, especially when it is a portrait of someone special. Remember a portrait can be of one person, family, two friends, a beloved pet…the list is endless, and again, these make lovely gifts, especially when framed nicely.
By using these five basic tips you’ll help expand your photography knowledge so you can start taking even better and more professional looking pictures.