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Tuesday, 18 August 2015

5 simple photography tips for beginners

So, a small disclaimer to begin. I certainly don't consider myself to be an expert (I've only been using a DSLR in any capacity for less than a year), but these are the techniques that I've found have most improved my photography so far. I hope that they can help a few of you!

Rule of thirds
This is a composition technique used to help make a photograph more interesting (also a useful guideline when you can't decide how to take a picture!). In a nutshell, the idea is to place the subject of the photo (what you want the viewer to be focussing on) at the intersection between a third of the way across the horizontal, and a third of the way down the vertical. So, in your mind, split the photo into three across and three down (alternatively most cameras have a setting to add these grid lines to your screen). Wherever any of these lines cross (four different positions) is where you should aim to place your subject. Obviously this won't apply for things shots like portraits where you don't particularly want someone's head stuck in a corner!

Think about colour
Using contrasting colours or similar colours can lead to two very different images stylistically. Obviously this isn't something you can always control, but for photos where you can determine the composition this is definitely something to consider. Do you want the viewers' eyes to be drawn instantly to a particular subject? Maybe consider using contrasting colours in this case. If you'd rather the focus was the entire composition then colours that harmonise might work best.


Consider lighting 
If you want to take photos of things on the floor (or looking down onto any other horizontal surface) then it's probably best to take these when the sun is highest in the sky, otherwise you'll get elongated shadows, which will detract from the subjects. It's tempting to take shots of things on your window sill as that's where most of the light is. But that can often lead to problems due to the sheer amount of light coming through the window behind. The subject will appear dark, and maybe out of focus due to the contrast. Take photos close to a window, but on a surface where you can photograph it at right angles to the window (as equally you don't want to be between the window and the subject or you'll block all the light!)

Use manual focus to be more precise
If you're struggling to focus at the correct depth using your DSLR on auto focus then switch to manual focus. You can then fine tune the focus to precisely where you want it. It took me ages to move away from auto settings, but manual really isn't that scary once you get used to it! I also love using manual focus to take out of focus photos, particularly with string lights! They create a cool bokeh effect :)


Take practice shots
A pretty obvious one, but the advantage of most modern cameras is that you don't have to worry about the cost of film or how long it'll take to develop. I often take anywhere up to 50 photos for each blog post to test out angles, lighting and composition (I figure my family have just accepted the fact that it sounds like I'm conducting a full-blown photo shoot in my room). Don't be afraid to keep snapping, moving and rearranging until you take something you're 100% happy with.

 
Do you have any other tips that you picked up on when you were just starting out? :)


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