Photography Tips

If you would like to improve your photographs, try out some of our photo tips. Happy Clicking!

Camera Selection

Choose the right camera to suit your needs. If you are after a few holiday snaps then there's no need to go to the expense and trouble that a professional has to go to, but if you are serious about photographer then you are not going to get far with a compact camera.

1. Compact and APS cameras. Often referred to as "point and shoot" cameras these are the most easy to use cameras. Most come with built in flash, autofocus and zoom lenses. The biggest difference between a compact and SLR camera is that you cannot change the lens. They are normally lighter than SLR cameras, especially the APS models.

2. SLR cameras. Use a SLR camera if you want to gain control of your photography. It gives you the ability to be more creative with your pictures. Experimentation comes into play with a wide variety of different lenses available. Be aware that advanced SLRs can provide a number of different controls and can be difficult to understand.

3. Medium format cameras. If you would like make money out of your photographs then you will stand a far better chance if you own a medium format camera. This is because these cameras produce a much larger negative than the 35mm SLR. The negative will then produce higher quality prints.

4. Large format cameras. Medium format's big brother. Again this is a tool of the professional photographer. The large negatives it produces need little enlargement. Therefore the final print will be of very high quality.

5. Digital cameras. There are now a range of digital cameras available, with models to suit beginners, serious amateurs and professional photographers alike. Compact and SLR digitals are available, as are special backs for medium format cameras.

Film Selection and Care

Selecting the right film for the conditions you are filming in is vital. A film that is right for one type of picture and conditions may not suit the next picture.

6. Slow film. Up to ISO 100. Use for brightly lit, still life subjects. Allows pictures enlargement, whilst still retaining fine details.

7. Medium film. Around ISO 200. Medium film is the most versatile film. Great for use outdoors in everyday situations.

8. Fast film. ISO 400. For use when the light is not so bright. Good for action shots.

9. Very fast film. ISO 1000. For use in low light, both in and outdoors. Provides a grainy image.

10. Film or slide. Film is the more convenient medium, but slide provides higher quality, especially if enlargement is required.

11. Films have shelf lives. The newer your film the better. Old film can give your pictures an unwanted colouring. Certainly make sure you use your film before the use by date.

12. Keep your film in the supplied container. This stops light and dirt from getting in.

13. Process the film quickly once it has been used.

14. Keep the film from extremes of temperature, especially heat. This will adversely affect the quality of the film.

15. Different makes of film can provide slightly different results. Try a few different brands and see which one suits you the best.

Accessories

A few important accessories that can make a difference.

16. Lens caps. The lens is the most important part of the camera and great care should be taken with them at all times. A damaged lens is no good to anyone. Always refit the lens cap after use.

17. Lens care. A good lens care kit will always include soft lint free cloth, dust free tissues, cleaning fluid and a blower brush.

18. Filters. Experiment with filters and see the different effects that they can provide. They are a relatively inexpensive way of making your pictures stand out.

19. Tripod. If you want sharper images, invest in a tripod. Ask a professional and they will tell you the difference a tripod can make. A must for portrait photography.

20. Once you have picked up a few accessories buy a good quality, waterproof camera bag.

Lenses

Having a variety of lenses available gives you the ability to take the picture that you want to. The five types listed here will give you the flexibility to get the shot you want in most situations.

21. Standard. A 50mm lens is the standard lens supplied with most SLR cameras. These lenses should be used when you want to take a picture that roughly equates to how you see a scene with the naked eye.

22. Macro. Use a macro lens for close up shots. The classic example of when to use a macro lens is when you are taking a close up picture of a flower in the garden.

23. Wide angle. These lenses do just the job when you are looking at a panoramic view. Useful for landscapes, groups of people and certain types of architecture.

24. Zoom. A must have lens. Standard zoom lenses are 28-80mm, but a wide variety of zoom lengths are available.

25. Telephoto. The "big brother" of the zoom lens. Use telephoto lenses to get close up pictures when you are at a great distance. Telephotos soon become rather heavy and camera support is required.

Flashguns

Flashguns are a very worthwhile addition to your equipment. Depending on your budget here are some of the things to take into consideration when buying.

26. The addition of an electronic flashgun can be dramatic. Once you become serious about photography, even an average flashgun will provide far better results than a camera's built in flash. Built in flash soon becomes ineffective over long distances and for large subjects.

27. Look for a "dedicated" flash gun. These take information directly from the camera and ensure the correct level of flash is delivered.

28. Autozoom flashguns work in conjunction with a zoom lens and ensure correct flash with the level of zoom that you are using.

29. A moveable head to the unit allows the flash to be bounced off a wall or ceiling.

30. Look for a unit that allows a controlled, reduced level of flash to be delivered.

Absolute Beginners

Tips to get you started.

31. If you are using flash ensure you fingers and thumb are well away from the flash. It is so easy for a stray digit to block off light and underexpose the picture.

32. Take care when loading the film. Make sure you follow the loading instructions carefully. It’s a very big disappointment to have your holiday pictures returned from the developers blank.

33. Its not just children that manage to behead subjects when taking a picture. Ensure that you check the viewfinder, including the parallax marks on a compact, carefully before taking the picture.

34. Camera shake. If you images are consistently suffering from a slight blur and you don't want to buy a tripod, then use a faster film.

35. Camera shake. Make sure you are standing comfortably. Legs slightly apart, back straight and cup the lens in your left hand. Your body should take on a shape a bit like a tripod.

36. If your images are often underexposed (too dark) again a faster film could be the answer. ISO 400 is a versatile film that can be used in most conditions and is ideal for you if you are just starting out.

37. Concentrate on keeping the horizon level in any photograph.

38. Shoot lots of pictures. Experiment with different camera settings, different lighting, different camera angles. Try to find what works for you.

39. Make sure there are no unwanted images in your shot. Check the viewfinder carefully to make sure your main subject will not be overshadowed by an unwanted secondary image.

40. Carry a notebook with you are write down the details of each photograph that you take, especially the expected result. If the final print is exactly how you intended then great, if not learn from the photograph and think how you can succeed next time. Use this tip and you should soon see an improvement in your photographs.

Picture Composition

Picture composition is obviously one of the key components of taking great pictures. It goes without saying that if you manage to miss the head of someone that you are taking a portrait shot of, then you are going to be very disappointed!

41. Always give your picture a main focal point.

42. A picture should have one dominant colour. This is not always easy. So basically try to avoid putting strong colours that will clash into the same picture.

43. A basic rule of photography is known as the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds divides a rectangular image into nine, equally sized, smaller rectangles. You then position the main subject of the picture at any point where the lines cross.

44. Try to ensure that your pictures have a foreground, middle ground and background. One of the three should be dominant in the photograph.

45. If once the picture has been taken you are not 100% happy with the result. Consider cropping the image. This is especially easy to do with digital images.

46. Move in close. When first starting out you will be surprised at the difference moving closer to the subject will make.

47. If you are photographing outside on a grey, dull day, keep the sky out of your pictures wherever possible.

48. Try using different viewpoints. Taking shots from high up looking down can provide you with interesting perspectives.

49. Look for ways of naturally framing a shot. Framing accentuates the main subject.

50. When shooting a horizon try to place it either a third of the way from the bottom of the picture or a third of the way from the top. Try to avoid placing it in the middle of the picture.

Lighting

If picture composition is critical to great pictures then lighting is not far behind.

51. The brightest sun of the day can wash pictures out. If the time of day when you take your pictures is not important try to avoid the period around midday.

52. Some of the best lighting conditions are to be found around dawn and again at dusk. Try taking pictures at these times of the day and notice the effect.

53. In the majority of instances it is usually best to have the sun behind you when you take a picture.

54. When the sun is behind you beware that your own shadow doesn't creep into the picture.

55. Beware of the shadows cast behind your subject by the sun as well.

56. Also make sure that if you are taking a portrait shot that the sun isn't causing your subject to squint.

57. If you do take a picture with the sun behind the subject (back lit), take care not to underexpose the subject itself. Use a wide aperture or a slow shutter speed.

58. Try taking pictures with lighting at different angles. Angled and low level lighting usually offers a more realistic and dramatic effect than when overhead lighting is used.

59. The best time to take the majority of night shots is shortly after the sun has set. This allows a small amount of natural light to work with.

60. Night shots are even possible without a flash if you are using an up to date camera. To do this you will need to use a fast film. Most situations will require a film speed of at least 800. Experiment and see what you can achieve.

Flash Photography

Taking pictures using flash can have many advantages, not just lightening up a darkened room. You need to take care that overexposure and red eye are avoided.

61. If the subjects are often overexposed then try using flash further away from the subject.

62. Under exposure occurs when you are working with a subject that is beyond the reach of your flash unit. It can be something of a surprise how little impact the built in flash on some cameras can have.

63. If you are taking a picture of a group indoors and conditions are fairly dark, there is a danger that the people near you will be overexposed and the people further away will be a little in the dark. If you can arrange the group so that they are all equidistant from the camera. That way there will be an even spread of light.

64. Red eyes can happen when the flash and the lens are closely aligned, as with a number of compact cameras. Many cameras now offer red eye reduction. To reduce red eye, try asking your subject to look at a light shortly before the picture is taken.

65. When you find yourself about to take a picture where there is little difference in lighting levels between the foreground and the background, this can cause the resulting image to have little contrast. You can make the subject or foreground stand out more by taking the picture using flash. This will help the subject to stand out more. This is known as "fill in flash".

66. When you are using fill in flash you normally only need a flash gun to deliver half or maybe in just a quarter of its power, this avoids the flash from over dominating the photograph.

67. If areas of the scene that you are about to take are shrouded in shadow that you would like to remove, again try taking the picture with flash. This is another use for fill in flash.

68. More natural lighting can be achieved if you are able to bounce the flash off a reflective wall or other surface rather than pointing the flash directly at the subject.

69. If you do bounce flash remember that it will reduce the light. If you are using a manual gun you will have to compensate elsewhere, usually through opening the aperture an extra stop or two.

70. A side advantage of using flash is that it can also help to "freeze" a moment. If you think about it a sudden, sharp burst of light will stop you in your tracks.

Filters

Experiment with filters. They are relatively cheap and can have a dramatic impact on your end results.

71. Light balancing, gradated, polarising and neutral density filters have no effect on the colour of the picture, but are used to correct lighting variations and to reduce reflections.

72. A light red skylight filter will supply a warm effect to your picture.

73. A blue skylight filter will supply a cool effect to your picture.

74. Using a filter will reduce the light in a scene. You can compensate for this by using a slower shutter speed or use a wider aperture.

75. By purposely underexposing the picture, the more impact the filter will have and the darker the colour of the final result.

Portraits

If you are taking portrait shots consider the following points.

76. For group portraits ensure an even spread of light. This will avoid one member of the group being over lit in comparison to the other group members.

77. For the shot of someone's head, create a more flattering chin line by getting the subject to hold a white sheet of paper below the chin, but out of shot.

78. If the subject is thinning on top, make sure the picture is taken from a slightly lower level to give the impression of a fuller head of hair.

79. Be careful with hats. They can cause unwanted shadows to appear on the subject's face.

80. Try a three-quarter view of the face. This can provide a more flattering view than full frontal.

Black and White Photography

A number of the most striking picture in history have been captured using black and white rather than colour film. Subjects suited by black and white are as follows.

81. Stormy weather shots are often captured in a more dramatic way using black and white film.

82. Black and white can make elderly people look even older.

83. Some landscape shots. Obviously if you are trying to capture the vivid colours of a landscape then black and white is not the medium to use, but if you are trying to portray a sense of desolation or isolation then black and white can increase the impact.

84. Dilapidated buildings and run down areas of a town or city can appear more striking in black and white.

85. Use black and white film in conjunction with coloured filters for a variety of differing effects.

Capturing Motion

Whether it is your child's sports day or you are a professional photographer at a top sporting event, freezing the action is key to successful photography.

86. Anticipate where the action is going to be and set up your position accordingly. It could be horses bursting from the starting stalls or the winner crossing the line in a 100 metre sprint. Why do you think all the photographers sit themselves behind the goal at a football match? The action that makes the news doesn't happen on the half way line very often.

87. Don't miss any of the action. Use a camera with motor drive. The motor drive advances the film for you and you don't have to wind the film on.

88. Most of the time you will need a camera with a lens of at least 200mm. To get close to the action a little further away you can easily double or triple that length to get to the heart of the action.

89. If you can get head on to the action slower shutter speeds can be used.

90. If you are using a compact camera or you don't want to trouble yourself with shutter speeds etc., then use a fast film.

Shutter Speeds and F Stops

Shutter speeds and F Stops can be a bit daunting at first. So here are a few simple rules.

91. To catch a subject in motion and avoid blurring the image, use a fast shutter speed (one with a high number).

92. To catch a subject in motion and blur the image, use a slow shutter speed. That is one with a low number.

93. Using a slow shutter speed on static images will also provide a greater depth of field.

94. Bigger F stops will give a greater depth of field (i.e. Even subjects in the distance will appear in focus).

95. Smaller F stops allow you to home in on the main subject and focus on the subject in the foreground.

Photographing Children

Can be fun, but it can also be very difficult. Try these tips to make it all worthwhile.

96 .Get down to the child's level. This may mean kneeling down.

97. Ensure lighting is also set at a lower level than normal.

98. Get ready to use more film than normal. Photographing a child doesn't always go to plan and its not always quick to get the best photograph.

99. A professional will often get a child to smile by introducing a cuddly toy that squeaks before the picture is taken. Try this for yourself. It can also help with a short attention span.

100. Work quickly. Children have trouble remaining still for long.

Finally

Express yourself! 101. Remember these are tips not rules. If you find any of them don't work for you then follow your own way. Experiment, have fun and enjoy yourself.



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