Photography Tips

Posted in Camera stuff on July 11th, 2009 by samuraisam

I wouldnt say Im the worlds best photographer or anything but I have a few pointers for people trying to learn a bit more about photography. These tips obviously don’t apply to everyone or to every style of photography but maybe they’ll help you in some way:

Get closer. I’ve found this to be really difficult and it is indeed something I am still getting used to, it takes a lot of confidence–getting closer to your subject does however yield better photographs.Even if you have a long fixed lens, try using a wide focal length and getting in that extra bit closer, interact with your subject. This goes hand in hand with the next subject:
Talk. I’ve found this difficult too, but if you’re going to take photographs of starving people etc then you have to talk to them and understand the situation. I have often wished that in the past I’d been a bit more talkative and had some writing (be it the name of the person in the photograph, or some kind of information about their situation) to present alongside the photographs.
Look around. If you’re at whatever event and you see 20 photographers in the same place as you are that obviously means that 20 photographers are all going to go home with the exact same photographs. You should never be afraid to move around, and this is why I detest using zoom lenses. If you use a prime lens you have to move to get that photo you want instead of being able to infinately zoom in to get what you want.
Delete Photoshop. ‘Ive made my own little rules concerning Photoshop; I will at most nowadays edit the brightness/contrast and crop where possible. If a photograph is blurry or if a photograph isn’t interesting enough then that’s that. You didn’t get in the right place and you didn’t have the camera set up properly to capture the moment and there is no amount of Photoshop that will reverse this. If you really want to learn photography and be a good photographer you must at first be able to produce something that you’d print out and put on your wall with confidence knowing you’d be unable to edit it.
Be critical. Something that is difficult for anyone trying anything is to be critical with the work you produce and photography is no different.
Learn. Although the functions on a modern day digital camera may be intimidating, make no mistake about it, everything has a purpose, at least find out what does what and why and try and use everything at least once.
Get back to basics. The first place I’d advise anyone wanting to start in photography to do is to be able to use the manual mode on the camera and produce 10/10 photographs that have perfect exposure and focus.
Tripod. Go and splurge on a tripod; I’ve only just got back into tripod photography and the results are really something that makes it worth the pain of carrying around a heavy tripod all day. Obviously where you dont have a tripod then you dont have one and you have to make do with handheld, tough.
The rule of thirds. If I counted up every time I’ve heard someone point at a photograph on a projector and make comment about how the photograph doesn’t adhere to the rule of thirds It’d be in the thousands. Screw the rule of thirds. Not every photo everywhere has to have everything on the third lines, it just doesn’t work like that.
Equipment crap. No one cares if you can take photos at 9fps, so stop sitting there wearing out your shutter and go take a good photo and then we might give a shit.
Keep your camera clean. I spent something like 15$ on a giant bottle of Kodak lens cleaner that looks something like this, I also spent something like 10$ on a rubber air blower which looks exactly like this. Even if you sit your camera in your cupboard and think its invulnerable to the rough outdoors there is no reason to not have the 2 things I linked to above and a sensor cleaner. Nothing is more unattractive than seeing someone with a whole bunch of sensor dust all over their photos.
Camera + lens upgrade shenanigans. Here’s the rule that is more vitally important than the rule of thirds: Unless you’re upgrading to a full frame camera then dont even bother upgrading. Im sick of seeing people that upgrade from something like a Canon 450d up to a Canon 50d: IT IS THE SAME CAMERA. If you dont believe me then go buy that 50d and you’ll see your photos look exactly the same because you’re using the same crappy lens. Upgrade your lens. I would say upgrade your lenses before your camera if you can’t upgrade both.
What am I doing wrong? So you have all the equipment you could possibly want but you can’t figure anything out and you’re finding learning really hard; go get a decent 50mm prime lens (that’s a lens that doesn’t zoom) and forget about flash and start taking photos on Av mode and read up as much as you can on photography, start investigating the camera mode-by-mode and feature-by-feature, eventually you’ll get there; set yourself a target to be able to roughly estimate the manual settings required for a given scenario (i.e. taking a photograph outdoors in bright sunlight etc)
Enjoy yourself. You’re at that gig or at your friend’s wedding or somewhere: do yourself a favor and sit back and enjoy what you’ve been invited to instead of sitting in the paid photographers way with your dinky camera phone.

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