Digital cameras offer so many functions and features that photography can seem way too complex for the beginner. In frustration, many new photographers switch their digital cameras to auto and never learn to use them properly.
If you read that and thought, “That sounds like me!” read on; I have good news. There are some great ways to take better photos without learning your camera’s complexities. That’s right – leave your camera on auto and still learn to take great pictures.
Of course, I encourage anybody to learn and understand aperture and shutter speed, the settings you must understand to improve as a photographer. However, the best encouragement is to start getting results quickly, so here are five easy tips to help you improve your photography in a low-tech way!
Better Photography Tip#1. Take your photo in the best possible light. You may have heard that the best morning for most photographers is very early or late when the sun is low and the sunlight is soft and colorful. This is a good rule to follow most of the time. Not only is the light more attractive, but you can also avoid midday contrast and heavy shadows.
Some subjects work better on cloudy days. For animals and people, cloudy weather softens the light and overcomes the problem of your issue squinting into the light. In the forest, overcast skies prevent the heavy contrast that is a problem on sunny days.
Better Photography Tip#2. Landscape photos: create a more interesting composition. Many images can be made more interesting, not by zooming right in on the subject but by zooming out or standing further back to capture more of the surroundings. The important thing is to make sure you use the surroundings to add impact to the picture.
For example, let’s say you are photographing an old rustic farmhouse. You could add even more character by using a line of fence posts or a gravel driveway to lead the eye into the picture. Or, when photographing a waterfall, you could try going a little further downstream to shoot the creek with the waterfall in the background for a more interesting angle.
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Better Photography Tip#3. Sunset and Sunrise. Everyone loves taking sunset (and sunrise) photos. A brilliant sunset sky can make a great photo, but you can make it even better by looking for a good subject in the foreground. The key is to find something that stands out against the sky with an outline people can recognize: a tree, a windmill, or even a row of power poles. The subject does not have to dominate the photo; it is probably best if it only takes up about ten percent of the composition so that the sky remains the starring attraction. But if you can create a striking silhouette, you will immediately add character to your sunset photograph.
Better Photography Tip#4: Animals (And People). A distracting background usually spoils Portrait-style photos. When you take a photo of a friend, a pet, or an animal, you don’t want the surroundings to distract from the subject.
So here’s the trick. Don’t stand close to your subject and take the photo with a regular or wide-angle lens. Try avoiding the issue and zoom in with your biggest lens. This will have two results. First, it will reduce the area behind and around the case visible in the photo. Second, it will minimize the field depth, meaning only your topic should be in focus. Anything in front or behind the issue will be out of focus and will not cause a distraction.
Better Photography Tip#5. Concentrate. Sometimes, all it takes to make a photo successful is to move a little to the left or right or zoom in or out just a little more. If you point the camera in the general direction of the subject without thinking about what you are doing, your results will not improve. If you slow down and examine what you see in the viewfinder before you press the button, your success rate will improve.
Simple things to look out for include trees and power poles appearing to grow out of the head of the subject (move yourself or the issue to a better position); litter on the ground (pick it up); aircraft or distracting clouds in the sky (wait for them to pass by); blurry branches on a windy day (wait for conditions to settle for a moment). All these things and more can ruin a photo, and they can all be remedied by taking a good look to ensure your picture has captured everything you want and nothing you don’t want.
So, here are some easy tips for good photography without getting hung up on technology. Above all, pay attention to tip #5 and slow down to concentrate on what you are doing. The other golden rule is to keep practicing and take lots of photos whenever possible. You will learn much more from your experience in the field than being told what to do. Remember, with digital cameras, it doesn’t cost you anything to keep snapping. With patience and attention to detail, you will take better photos in no time – guaranteed!