- Arts and Design
Top 10 Ways To Instantly Improve Your Photos
"A Picture's Worth A Thousand Words" ~ Want To Improve Your Vocabulary?
Taking great pictures comes naturally only to a blessed few photographers. But if you are not one of those who are blessed with the ability to capture excellent images without a struggle, you have definitely come to the right place. You CAN learn to take better pictures!
Not only can you take great pictures, you don't always need to know the rules. (But read this article before you toss 'em all out)
Perhaps the finest nature photographer of all time, Ansel Adams, said this: "The so-called rules of composition are, in my mind, invalid, irrelevant and immaterial." So, if you have tried to follow all the rules, and they aren't working for you, just shoot from your heart for the fun of it.
Photography is one of the most popular and fastest growing art forms in our current society. With the advent of the digital camera, more and more folks are taking an interest. But if your pictures are dull and uninteresting, you might lose heart.
Stick with it! You can learn to take better pictures, and you can do it quickly. You don't have to attend the New York School of Photography to improve your images.
These 10 tips are meant to give you some ideas about how to get better fast. Read 'em all. Then pick the ones that you can implement right now. But don't forget about the others. Work patiently, and you will get better.
Photo with permission - all photos on this lens were taken with the Canon EOS Rebel T3i or Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS7 (Now the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8).
Quick Tip For Instant Gratification
Improve the number of good, blur-free pictures you take by using the best shutter button technique. It's actually simple. Before you take the picture, press the shutter button half-way down to allow the camera to focus. Then gently push the rest of the way to get the picture.
Don't MASH the button. That will just cause more movement and blurry photos. And, you can avoid shutter lag with this method, also improving the number of good shots you will want to keep.
If you are old enough to remember back when movie making was a kind of "glamor" job, you may have walked around making believe you were a cinematographer with your hands situated like a TV or movie frame. It was fun and creative. You could block out the clutter and distractions to focus on the main idea of your "movie."
That is still a valid way to decide what will look good as a photograph. It is a lot easier than walking around with your camera up to your face, looking for interesting shots.
The idea is that you can take control of your composition. In the example here, you will notice that the image on the left has too much clutter with part of the adjoining wall and a rain downspout spoiling the picture. I just increased the range on my telephoto lens (you can also move forward) a bit to get the shot on the right. It is much more visually appealing in its simplicity.
Here is another example of taking control of the composition. After viewing the image below in the LCD panel, I decided I was not happy about the chair on the left side.
So, again, I simply increased the zoom on my lens and took the shot again. The second shot does not include the distracting chair or the stepping stones in the foreground.
Many times the simplest of adjustments can result in dramatic differences.
Above we see a dad watching his son in the pool. You see a young boy with flotation devices on his arms. This type of photo will stir some imagination and emotion in the viewer. What is Dad thinking? Is he watching to make sure his son is going to be safe, or is he feeling a sense of love and pride? Either way, the viewer gets involved in a much deeper way.
This picture of an abandoned building is also interesting. The signs are a paradox to the walls which are showing their age with their crumbling stucco.. The "No Parking" signs in front of the parked car are another paradox. You can find scenes like this that will bring the viewer into the story everywhere.
Books To Improve As A Photographer And Take Better Pictures
I have the books of both of these authors. They are the top selling photography writers on Amazon. The books are excellent resources for photographers who want to take better pictures.
Both of these authors are highly regarded in photography circles as teachers and mentors.
#3 Change Your Perspective - How to avoid boring, ho-hum shots
Sometimes you see a scene that you know will be a fantastic shot. However, when you get it onto your computer, you are disappointed that there is no interest at all. You can make a minor adjustment in your position and get BIG results. The two pictures above feature the same two daffodils. You will probably admit that the image on the right is much more interesting.
The shot on the left was taken at a normal level, one that most of us would assume is the correct perspective. After all, this is the way the flowers look to an average person walking by the garden.
By simply lowering the camera to the ground and using the adjustable LCD screen, I was able to get the picture on the right with a beautiful sky as the background. If you don't have an LCD that will tilt for you, you can experiment until you get the shot you want. That is the beauty of digital.
In the pictures above, I took the shot on the left from the ground. Then I went to the second floor of the art gallery next door and took the shot on the right using my 12x zoom. It is the same window (shown in the red square). Which shot has more interest?
Sometimes you have to put forth some energy and move around.
#4 Use a Tripod
Even the cheapest tripod can help.
Use a tripod for close-ups. As you get closer you get to your subject, any movement gets multiplied much more than normal shots. Also, you want to shoot macro at a small aperture which slows down the shutter speed. So you really need to steady the camera some way, and a tripod is the most useful and reliable way to do that.
Tripod - A Photographer's Friend
If you do not currently own a tripod, check this one out.
One thing I like about this particular tripod is the ability to turn the center post upside down in order to get very low. You would think that just putting the camera on the ground would work, but having control over the exact angle of the camera is critical.
And check the price.. The list price is $399. What a savings!!!
#5 Frame It!
We are not talking about a wall mounted photo here.
Another powerful composition strategy you can use to add punch to a picture is framing. Frames are normally found around the pictures in your house. The frame acts as a device that adds value to the picture in the frame. The same thing can be done using natural objects. By using natural frames, you can really increase the interest and importance to the subject of your pictures.
This will mean that you have to examine the area where you are shooting to find unique angles with natural frames. It is not always possible, but when you can find them, they will pay off in spades.
#6 Use The Rule Of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds is one of the most powerful techniques at your disposal for improving your photography. In fact, it is so important that some camera makers now include a grid in the LCD screen to help you line up your shots. My Canon Rebel T3i has such a grid. When I use "Live View" to compose my shot, I can see the grid and reposition myself or my camera to move the subject off-center and onto one of the gird lines.
Basically, what you want to do is position the subject of your picture in such a way as to get out of the center. We all have a tendency to try to get the subject in the absolute center of the photo, but that simply leads to dull and boring shots most of the time. When you see a picture that sparks your interest, look at it closely to see what it is that caught your attention. My guess is that a high percentage of those interesting pictures have a subject that is not in the dead center of the photo.
If you can use the cross hairs of the grid, you will add even more interest.
Notice how the young photographer above is aligned on the grid line? And also her head is at the cross hair of one of the third lines. This is very subtle in most cases, but it is also very helpful.
In the photo above, the water drop is on the lower, right cross hair. Can you see how much more interesting that is than if the bud was in the center of the frame?
This takes practice, but if you keep reminding yourself about the Rule of Thirds, you will be one step closer to having many more "Wow" images. Sometimes, you can do a simple crop once you get the picture onto your computer to achieve this effect. In a digital age, that is not cheating LOL.
Canon Rebel T4i - Improve Your Photos With A Great "User Friendly" Camera
The Canon Rebel T4i (and other cameras) has a grid you can turn on so you can frame your shots using the "Rule of Thirds."
The T4i is Canon's newest Rebel. It is the perfect camera for those who are just getting into digital SLR photography. Many of the photos in this article were taken with a Canon Rebel, either the T3i or the T4i.
#7 Be Prepared
Boy Scouts can teach photographers something.
I can't tell you how many times I hear this cry, "Quick, get your camera!"
As a photographer, you should always be ready to "get the shot."
Sometimes this is just impossible, but there are other times when it is, and when that happens you should be prepared. There are a couple of things you can do to "advance the cause."
- First, you can keep your camera close by. This may take some training. But when you do get the shot, you will be so glad you did not miss the golden opportunity. I usually carry a point and shoot camera with me when I can't take the Canon Rebel. It has saved the day quite a few times.
- Second, when you are done with one photographic experience, make sure you reset your camera to a "normal" group of settings. Again, I can't tell you how many times I have failed to do this, and it has ended up in getting horrible photos.
An example of this is when you have been shooting in an unusual place, such as a dark room, so you have boosted the ISO to a really high number, and when you take a shot in normal conditions, it will be much too over-exposed. Or vise versa, you are in a darker situation and, thinking your camera is on auto, you take a shot and the shutter speed is far too slow to hand hold the camera and you end up with a giant blur.
But, for me, the most common mistake is when I have been using the camera's timer and forgotten to reset it to normal shooting. I see a fantastic picture, I compose the shot, and I press the shutter button. That's when I hear the dreaded beeping of the timer, and 10 seconds later the camera takes the shot of some blank area. Very disappointing.
When our cat and dog are in a playful mood, the photo opportunity does not last very long. I have to have the camera ready and handy.
And wouldn't it be a shame to miss the shot when your grandson stood up for the first time on his surfboard?
Cameras with fast frame rates to capture the action
Fastest shooting rate at 12 frames per second
#8 Fill The Frame
This is one technique that can prove to be very powerful. You do it by moving closer or using the zoom capability of your lens.
Experiment with your camera. Take a picture, then move closer and take it again. Keep moving closer and taking more pictures. When you get the pictures on your computer, examine them to see which ones are more compelling. You may be surprised that a picture that does not even have the entire subject in the frame because you were so close might be the best of the lot.
In the picture of the church door on the right, there were some distracting elements on each side, but when I was able to get just the door, it took on a whole new sense of interest.
The photo of the tree below is another way to fill the frame. I noticed that the tree looked a lot like a cartoon face when I filled the frame with just part of the tree. It is much more obvious in this photo than if you are simply looking the the tree in its entirety.
Insects are another subject that have much more interest if you are able to get up close and personal, filling the camera frame. In fact, they also do well when you can focus on body parts, such as eyes and wings, because most folks will not have seen the insect that way.
Travel Cameras with Super Zoom Capacity
Travel and vacation cameras offer lots of flexibility. They have excellent still image and video recording.
But when you want to fill the frame with your subject, a super-zoom lens "fills" the bill.
#9 Use Leading Lines To Take Better Pictures
This is another rather subtle photography technique that adds power and interest to your images. Lines lead the eye, whether we realize or not. Sometimes the lines lead the eye away from the subject or out of the frame. These are not the kind that have power. The ones that have power are the ones that draw the viewer into the photo.
Leading lines can be things like streets vanishing into the distance or a fence line or a babbling brook. But sometimes they can be much more subtle like a line of buildings that gets smaller as it draws your attention into the background. Again, you can study some of the photos that you find interesting to see that the interest is indeed leading lines.
Bugs and insects can sometimes have leading lines. Can you see them in the Monarch Butterfly?
#10 Put Aside That Foolish Pride
You will never take better pictures if you aren't shooting.
You have to be bold. Depending on your personality, this could take some practice. Don't be ashamed to let folks know you have a camera. And, more importantly, don't be afraid to use it. Having your camera out in plain view could also lead to some interesting opportunities. Some folks love to be in front of the lens and will volunteer or even beg you to take their picture. I have found this particularly true of teenagers.
Of course, there are those who would not want their picture taken if their life depended on it. You should usually honor their wishes, and try not to make them feel uncomfortable.
But what I am really referring to here is taking pictures in public. It could be pictures of people or perhaps pictures where people are around you.
Take the shot below, for instance. It is a picture of a manhole cover. I was standing the the middle of a street when I shot this. Sometimes you will feel a bit foolish, but in the end, you may wind up with some pretty good stuff.
Panasonic Is A Leader In Point and Shoot Cameras
I carry my Panasonic Point-and-Shoot camera wherever I go. It takes great shots, too.
My model (only I have the ZS7). I can not speak highly enough about this camera for the price.
Near-pro quality. In fact, it is the number one choice of pros who carry a compact camera.
My granddaughter has this one. It is great for beginners on a budget.
Credit For Photos
All the photos in this article are property of the author. They are actually posted on waynerasku.com where you can find more photography tips and training.
The pictures were taken with either a Canon Rebel T3i digital SLR camera or a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 (Now the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8). Both cameras are well worth looking into for personal use.
Panasonic does not receive the advertising hype of Canon and Nikon, but they produce some of the top Point and Shoot cameras on the market. In fact, the Panasonic LX7 is considered by many pros to be the finest digital compact available, and many of them carry it as their preferred pocket camera.
More About The Canon Rebel T3i
As mentioned, I personally own this little Digital SLR. I also mentioned that you can get one from Amazon, and if you don't think it's right for you, send it back. That was my intention when I ordered mine. The Canon Rebel T3i was just an experiment that I would return after I tried it out. I totally intended to get the Canon 60D after my Rebel trial.
Well, I still have the Rebel. I was so totally impressed with it that I kept it. That's my story, and I'm stinkin' with it. If you want to see more about what I consider to be the number one cheap digital SLR on the planet, please visit www.CanonRebelT3i600D.com