"6 Tips for Beginning Photographers"

The Beauty of Using Available Light

Photograph property of James Ranka copyright 2012
Photograph property of James Ranka copyright 2012 | Source

Beginning Photographers - Quickly Improve Your Photography

I was just like you--a beginner in need of solid photography education. Let's begin making images viewers will truly appreciate and admire!

Following, is a brief copywriter31 photography bio, written, not to bore, but to lend credibility.

As corporate photographer throughout my 14 year tenure at the E.I. DuPont company, I studied photography at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, CA, and attended many workshops and seminars all addressing the finer points of capturing excellent images.

Source

Tip #1 Know Your Camera

Many times, great picture-taking opportunities occur quickly and at the spur of the moment.

You will not have time to fiddle with your camera in attempts to get the right settings. If you own a digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex) with 2 or 3 interchangeable lenses, then you've a lot of homework ahead. These cameras offer huge numbers of features and you should know them.

I own a Canon EOS Rebel T3i, and I use an 18-55 zoom lens for most of my shooting. I have locked my settings where my subject is in focus, and the background blurred. The technical aspects of this setting include f stop and shutter speed... (Don't worry--That information will be as technical as this hub gets.)

Most beginners own a 'point and shoot' digital camera. Fine and good--ensure your P&S contains at least the ability to shoot an image with 14 megapixels, and ALWAYS use the highest megapixel setting for every picture. You may just capture an image you want to enlarge for wall hanging. Shooting with the maximum megapixels gives you that option.

If your budget allows, buy the largest available SD (Secure Digital) card for your camera. 64 gigabytes is enough memory to hold most any photographer shooting many high-megapixel images. After transferring your picture to a computer, erase the SD card for re-use.

Hot Idea! Make Personalized Greeting Cards

Using the cup picture seen at the top of this hub, I made a personal greeting card inside Photoshop.
Using the cup picture seen at the top of this hub, I made a personal greeting card inside Photoshop. | Source

Tip #2 Lighting

ALWAYS shoot without flash unless your camera either doesn't give you that option, or it's not made for low light situations.

Available light lends itself to the creation of beautiful, natural pictures, and preserves depth of field and dimensionality.

Move your subject to an area containing natural sunlight or if indoors, find a soft lighting area. Invest in a tripod for extremely low light situations--this will eliminate blur caused by involuntary hand to camera movement.

The best times for outdoor lighting are sunup and sundown. These times provide beautiful, warm lighting, especially good for portrait photography. Always be alert for that special lighting only mother nature provides and your images will reflect her beauty.

Unless absolutely necessary, never, never, never use flash!

Amazing results from available light. Shot in my living room.

"The Ghostly Dining Room" copyright 2012 - James Ranka
"The Ghostly Dining Room" copyright 2012 - James Ranka | Source
Taken at late dusk - available light.
Taken at late dusk - available light. | Source

Hot Tip!

Can't afford Photoshop? Check out a program from Serif titled Photoplus X5. This program does most everything Photoshop does and the learning curve is low. The program sells for around $60, and is well worth the price: In fact, considering all the work this software program provides, EVERY beginning photographer should buy it.

Tip #3 Up,Up, Up--Close, Close, Close

Always go for the tight shot.

Either move yourself closer to your subject or make use of your zoom. As a general rule, portrait photography calls for vertical positioning of your camera, thereby capturing the entire body; scenic photography calls for a horizontal camera angle, also known as landscape mode.

This tip is not necessary if you are using all 14 megapixels for the shot ONLY if you plan to use an image manipulation software program like Photoshop or Serif. The large megapixel image can be cropped and enlarged within Photoshop with no loss of picture quality.

The close-up captures all the character of your subject and makes for an appealing image.

The Original Photograph Before Editing

Cropped and Color-Corrected in Photoshop

Taken with my wife's point and shoot digital - NO flash, edited in Photoshop. The original was taken from a great distance. The manipulation in Photoshop made this a nice, close-up portrait, despite the camera's low megapixel number.
Taken with my wife's point and shoot digital - NO flash, edited in Photoshop. The original was taken from a great distance. The manipulation in Photoshop made this a nice, close-up portrait, despite the camera's low megapixel number. | Source

Tip #4 Candid Camera

In the 1960s, Allen Funt produced a great TV program titled "Candid Camera." The program caught people being themselves--totally oblivious to the hidden cameras capturing their funny moments.

When you attend family gatherings, parties with your friends, etc., blend in with the crowd and anticipate special moments when people will react to the intense human interaction and shoot candidly.

Capture your subjects in mid-laugh, for example, or maybe shoot while your subject is telling a story while his/her arms and body are animated. You are attempting to capture that person's true personality, and you will never achieve that goal if you 'stage' a scene.

Use this method often for amazing results.

Source

Tip #5 Body Language for Kids

To get great results when shooting kids, you must position your body to be on their level.

Get used to lying on the floor, bending or stooping so the camera is keyed on their eye level. Imagine the lack of impact the picture on the right would have delivered if I simply stood straight and pointed the camera downward. The wonderful expressions I was able to capture would have been totally lost.

BTW, I used available light for this picture and though I did arrange them, this image did show interesting body language with nice smiles. I shot at random, capturing 7 images never alerting the boys when I was going to pull the trigger.

Remember: For memorable kid photography, the floor is your strongest ally.

Tip #6 Look Beyond Your Subject

Large objects seemingly growing from a subject's head ruin the image. Always check your background to avoid this error, and move yourself or the subject away from that blossoming light pole, or a tree planted squarely inside his/her head.

There may be times when you must press the shutter button quickly with no regard or time to avoid ill-positioned background objects. Go ahead and take the shot and remove it in Photoshop, or another similar program.

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Comments 37 comments

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

Wonderful hub! Great advise for beginners. I especially love your picture of the coffee cup with the heart, awesome! The kids are adorable, great pic! Thank you for sharing your advice. Voted up, useful and socially sharing. Have a wonderful day! :)


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 4 years ago from Port Neches Author

Thanks very much for your positive comments, sgbrown! The heart shape in the coffee cup was an extra 'bonus' I didn't see in my viewfinder... I simply found the lighting to be perfect for the shot!


blaeberry profile image

blaeberry 4 years ago from Scotland

Great hub. Loads of useful tips for people just starting out in photography. Voted up and useful


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 4 years ago from Port Neches Author

Thanks much blaeberry. Appreciate the up vote and useful votes!


Media Magnate Mom profile image

Media Magnate Mom 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Awesome primer for us novices. Now, if I can only find the camera... Useful and voted up!


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 4 years ago from Port Neches Author

Thanks for the comment and the up vote, Media Magnate Mom.


GabrielMendoza profile image

GabrielMendoza 4 years ago from Yuma, Arizona

I like this.. Thanks for the information and I too am a amature photographer. So it helped.


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 4 years ago from Port Neches Author

Thanks Gabriel... glad it helped you, and I really appreciate your comment!


GabrielMendoza profile image

GabrielMendoza 4 years ago from Yuma, Arizona

Your welcome


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Good stuff here! Thanks for posting great tips for beginning photographers. Even those with experience want to see beginners learn the best tips for one ever knows when a beginner will snap a shot!


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 4 years ago from Port Neches Author

Thanks RTalloni... If these tips helped beginning photographers beat the steep learning curve, I feel very honored to be one of the many who has contributed to learning the art of photography. I appreciate your comment!


witnessing4HIM profile image

witnessing4HIM 4 years ago from NC USA

I personally am a cropper and you cropped your Dad fine. The difference would make a difference If he drank lots of coffee, having the cup and napkin at the forefront of him would look like him.

However you did a wonderful cropping.

To be 88 yeas old and look this healthy, is a true blessing


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 4 years ago from Port Neches Author

Thanks for your comment witnessing4HIM. My problem in the crop was the date stamped on the original was aligned almost directly beside his coffee cup. I really wanted to keep the cup, but it was impossible. Very good observation! And you're right, he is a healthy and vibrant 88 yr. old superman!


witnessing4HIM profile image

witnessing4HIM 4 years ago from NC USA

Sorry you ran across the stamp mark.

Since you have a Photoshop, are you able to erase, blend, airbrush originals?

Thank you for your reply to my reply as we both think your DaD is powerful!! I am 74 next month and I want to live to his age.


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 4 years ago from Port Neches Author

More than likely, I MAY have been able to blend the date out. Would have been extremely time consuming because of the differences in colors and textures. Maybe when I have the time, I will attempt to do that. Thanks for the suggestion!


witnessing4HIM profile image

witnessing4HIM 4 years ago from NC USA

i PRAY YOU GOOD RESULTS.....I surely enjoy doing it and yes it is time consuming. But you get the results you desire.

Blessings


samsons1 profile image

samsons1 4 years ago from Tennessee

Very good read and invaluable information. Wish I had these tips 65 years ago when I started. However trial and error is likewise a good teacher, one just wastes a lot of film along the way. Thankful for digital equipment now and the fact that some basis knowledge learned long ago remains the same after all these years. Some things don't change even though the cameras do.

By the way, can't you turn off the date stamp on your Canon? Just wondering - Voted up and useful...


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 4 years ago from Port Neches Author

Hey Samsons1, Thanks for the comment!

I also shot with film, 'back in the day'. You're right, the digital changeover doesn't affect composition, lighting techniques, etc. But digital gives us photographers so many more choices in post-shoot. Photoshop is an amazing program, more than capable of saving a mediocre shot and fixing disasters.

The point and shoot Canon is my wife's camera, and yes, the date option can be turned off--she took the shot, I guess she overlooked that before she pulled the trigger.

Good comments!


witnessing4HIM profile image

witnessing4HIM 4 years ago from NC USA

very Good! See I knew you could remove that stampmark. Congrats!


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 4 years ago from Port Neches Author

Haha! You noticed! Yeh - I liked your suggestion, and I couldn't let it go, so I did some 'Photoshop surgery' on the image. Had to experiment with several methods, but I finally found a combination that worked.


witnessing4HIM profile image

witnessing4HIM 4 years ago from NC USA

Very happy for your results. Makes your Dad and his hobby of drinking coffee more realistic.

Glad you accopished this as I was going to copy your Dad's photo work on the stampmark and sent it to you so you would see the difference. Yeah! you did it yourself. Many happy photo hours!


deepateresa profile image

deepateresa 4 years ago from Trivandrum, Kerala,India

great tips for beginners, loved your hub and photos..


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 4 years ago from Port Neches Author

Thanks, deepateresa - I'm glad my tips helped you, and I appreciate your kind comments!


dslrtipsandtricks profile image

dslrtipsandtricks 4 years ago

Never use flash? See I was taught in school to always use flash... The more light the better (the adjustments can be controlled in post)


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 4 years ago from Port Neches Author

Flash introduces an element not present in the image set-up. Natural light preserves the quality and beauty inherently bathing the image in its natural state. Also, if you can make adjustments in post, why not shoot your images using the "Raw" setting, bring it into PS, and make your adjustments in the raw editor? You are performing the same operation, only in reverse.


endless sea profile image

endless sea 4 years ago from Lucknow(U.P.) India

photos are great, and well informative hub loved it thank you for tips :)


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 4 years ago from Port Neches Author

Thanks for your kind comments; I'm happy the information proved to be helpful for you!


tourismnepal profile image

tourismnepal 4 years ago from Narayangarh,Nepal

Thanks for great hub. I am also trying to be a photographer and found this useful.


watergeek profile image

watergeek 4 years ago

Nice shots, copywriter. I've started to become impatient with the flash on my camera. Even though it's automatically on when I turn the camera on, I've been turning it off lately when it impinges on the photo I want. I'm almost glad to see your recommendation to never use flash . . . although I still will on the rare occasions I need fill light. Thanks for the tips.


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 4 years ago from Port Neches Author

When my subject (for example) is in the shadows, outside, and at high noon on a sunlit day, I too, will use flash for fill. Other rare situations also demand flash, but as I wrote in the article, I avoid artificial light at all costs.

GREAT comment, and thank you for the compliment!

Thanks for reading... .

CW31


anusha15 profile image

anusha15 3 years ago from Delhi, India

Great tips! They are simple but too effective, and too easy to apply, yet too often ignored by the those who are unaware of the magic of photography. I've just started exploring this altogether different dimension of art... First thing that came into my mind, after reading the first para of this hub was, please do add this info to your hubpages profile. :) great hubs, thanks for these tips.


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 3 years ago from Port Neches Author

Hey anusha15 - Thanks for the complimentary comments! Have fun with your new photography interest . . . creating good, snappy images with a camera is a fascinating way of expression. Glad my tips helped you.

CW31


My Moments profile image

My Moments 3 years ago

Oh my gosh, great tips. I fancy myself a budding photograph and I am happy to have come across this hub. I will most certainly be using your advice!


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 3 years ago from Port Neches Author

You are most welcomed, My Moments. Of the 6 tips written here, use #2 ALWAYS! Shoot without flash. You will be most happy with the results. Thanks for the comment, and good luck with your image creating future.

CW31


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 3 years ago from Port Neches Author

You are most welcomed, gardenideashub! Thanks for the comment.

CW31


My Moments profile image

My Moments 3 years ago

Thank you copywriter. I will have to pay more attention to the flash. Since I am just beginning, I have no pre-conceived notion about anything! My boyfriend has this great camera, he NEVER uses and I just picked it up one day and starting taking pictures. I have been told I have a pretty good eye. Anyway, I will incorporate all your tips! Again, great hub.


copywriter31 profile image

copywriter31 3 years ago from Port Neches Author

Hey there, My Moments, Thanks for the kind compliments. Eliminate your flash and you will capture images that truly stand out! Have fun - main thing... .

CW31

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