Top Tips For Better Photography
I’ve had this blog saved in my draft folder for a while now, knowing eventually I would get around to putting it out there. Letting things grow silently in the background is the only way these little pieces become anything.
Photography is Art….your Art.
Photography is not just about the camera you have, or how many lenses you have to go with it…its much more. It’s a journey that is personal to you…enjoy the journey.
When I first started photography, I often searched the online library of blogs claiming to be able to help your photography progress at a faster pace…or did they? or was it just what I thought I would get out of it. Any hoooo……I soon realised that at the end of the day it was down to me, in my own time, at my own pace. I may not have realised it back then, but what these blogs were actually teaching me, was to step out of my comfort zone, try new things….No Matter The Results!
THAT’S RIGHT – NO MATTER THE RESULTS!!
SO WHAT>>> if I come home and every image is blurry, or the images didn’t quite tell the story I was hoping it would, then at least I’ve learnt something. That’s basically what I do now, I have my SO WHAT hat on. At least now I come home with something to show for it.
Anyway lets get to this…Here are my TOP tips to Better Photography.
1. Keep’in it RAW
Why didn’t I do this sooner! I know why, because I was busy learning the basic principles of photography. I don’t think I started to shoot in RAW for a good year and a half after I started.
So what is Raw? Raw This is the way I like to explain it. When you take a photograph, your camera collects its data from the cameras sensor. When in Raw your camera will collect ALL this data totally uncompressed, absolutely everything it sees will be stored for you to process yourself. No details from your image are removed leaving you with a high quality image to work on later.When you shoot in the cameras standard file format ‘JPEG’, your image is compressed and data is lost, leaving you with an image with far less detail and no option to process the image yourself. Basically the camera does it all for you and gives you an image ready to print. If you are not shooting in RAW yet….you should be! It will give you more creative control over your images which is pretty handy if you want the option to play around with it in post editing.
A few points to keep in mind when shooting in RAW….
- Raw files are large – you will need a lot more storage space for them, I use hard drives to store my images on, and I always keep my photography work separate from my family photos ( Just a habit I guess….I would be more upset losing my family photos so I tend to protect that hard drive with my life ).
- You will have to process the files yourself, which takes more time. Use programs like Photoshop, Lightroom and Camera RAW, but make sure to check your cameras software….it needs to be compatible with the programs you want to use.
- Your camera won’t automatically shoot in RAW, It will be set to the standard ‘JPEG’ format. You will need to go into your menu and change this over, most cameras have a few options to choose from RAW,JPEG and JPEG and RAW ( for every image you take your camera will save one of each ).
Don’t worry if you are not quite ready to make the adjustments to the RAW files yourself, you can always save them and come back to them later.
2. Creative Focus
In focus, out of focus….what’s the difference?
Rules are good, learn them, follow them….but when you have a creative mind that just won’t stop ticking, rules can be hard to follow! Well we all know what focus is…right? Im talking about using your focus points and focus modes together to get the results you want. Let’s go over this real quick…
Your focus point is your central point of attention/interest, when you press your cameras shutter button half way down you will see your focus point/points come up. You can pretty much bank on this point being in focus, which is what you want!, but you can also move this point around yourself, I do this by pressing my shutter button half way down and then using the directional pad on the back of my camera to move it around the viewfinder. (This is how my camera does it, every camera is different….read your manual)
Move your focus point around rather than your camera, have a play around with it….your subject doesn’t always have to be dead centre, or even fully in focus!
Now Focus Modes can look something like this on your camera…AF-S,AF-C,AF-A.
AF-S — For Stationary Subjects. Single-servo AF – This mode is used for subjects that are not moving as much, like Flowers, Landscape, portraits that sort of thing.
AF-C — For Moving Subjects. Continuous-servo AF – This mode is great for animals, running dogs, horses. Any sport or motor photography. I use this mode for children too!
AF-A — Auto-servo AF – For this mode, the camera decides for you, so if your subject is moving, it will automatically select AF-C, or if your subject is not moving it will select AF-S. I tend not to use this mode myself, just a personal chose. I like to select my focus mode so I can judge the situation as it unfolds in front of me.
By stopping to think what part of your image is needing more focus (focus point) and what mode best suits your subject, you can create your own story, in your own words.
3. Be a Storyteller
This one is pretty simple, your photography is your own journey, you are different to all the other photographers out there, even if you took the same image as Mr Photographer next door! your images would not be the same. When I look at other peoples work, I am not just taking in what is in front of me, I am also thinking a lot about the photographer who took the photo, what he/she had to do to get the image, what weather they endured. The image is an extension of themselves.
I find a good way to focus on telling your story, is to go out on a photo walk, with a story/subject in mind, and only take images of that! the subject could be something as simple as Movement, or the colour Red. It could be Reflections, Happiness, or even texture. You get the idea!
4. Know Your Exposure Triangle.
Knowing your Exposure Triangle is key to a good photo, if you have no idea what I’m talking about…put down the camera and pick up a book!
Ok ok ok….Google it, here is a link to the Exposure Triangle.
When you first start out in photography, the Exposure Triangle doesn’t come till later…but when you have it down…shooting in Manual is a breeze and you have more creative control over your work.
To understand the exposure triangle you have to have the basic understanding of Shutter Speed,Aperture and ISO, you must balance all three of these things to get the result you desire. To help you get started with this I recommend you read through some of my other blog posts below.
When you change your aperture, you will need to change your shutter speed…and keep an eye on your ISO setting if the weather conditions change. All three work together to bring in the correct amount of light.
You can download an Exposure Triangle chart from the web, it can be handy to keep on your phone while you are learning it.
Here is a link to one – Exposure Triangle Chart.