Sunday, February 28, 2016

10 best photography tips for beginners

New to photography? Need some beginner-friendly photo tips to help you get up and running with your camera? We can help.
Digital photography can be daunting when you’re a beginner. All the confusing camera controls, customization options and photography jargon – it’s bewildering.
This starter’s guide should help cut through some of the confusion. We’ll show you how to set up your camera so that you can quickly start taking better photos.
This isn’t simply an abridged version of your camera manual though. Rather, it’s a hand-picked assortment of 10 of our best beginner photo tips that will help you become a more confident photographer.

1. Don’t stress about the quality of your digital camera.

It’s easy to find yourself going round in circles when it comes to photographic equipment, and all too easy to believe that the camera gear you own is holding you back. But really, it isn’t: any camera is capable of producing a stunning picture.
Yes, there are some digital cameras that will give you a wider dynamic range and others that may have a more responsive AF system.
But ultimately, the success of a photo comes down to its composition – what you choose to include (and leave out) of the picture, and how you arrange it in the frame.

2. Choose the right shooting mode for the job.

Your digital camera’s scene modes are fine for snapshots, but if you want to take more creative photos then step up to the more advanced semi-automatic shooting modes.
Aperture Priority (A or Av on the mode dial) is the one to choose if you want to control the depth of field – how sharp your photos are from front to back. As a result, it’s a smart choice for portraits, landscapes, macro photos – pretty much everything!
Aperture Priority is a semi-automatic mode: you set the aperture, and the camera then sets a corresponding shutter speed for a ‘correct’ exposure, based on the camera’s reading of the scene.
Shutter Priority (S or Tv) works the same way, although you control the shutter speed instead, with the camera setting an appropriate aperture. This makes it a good shooting mode to plump for when you’re shooting sports and action.
Program mode (P) is like an advanced fully automatic mode, where the camera sets both the aperture and shutter speed.
However, you can rotate the camera dial to ‘shift’ the aperture and shutter speed combination in order to get a different effect while still maintaining the same overall exposure.
This makes Program mode a good choice for on-the-fly shooting where you just want to be sure you’re going to get the shot.

3. Don’t feel you have to use the camera manually.

We’re first to champion the benefits of taking as much control back from the camera as possible for consistent results. But here’s the thing: many of the automatic camera settings give perfectly good results.
Take white balance, for instance. The Auto White Balance (AWB) setting does a decent job in many situations. It may go a bit squiffy in mixed lighting, and it can leave sunsets looking a bit insipid, but overall it’s pretty good at neutralising unwanted colour casts.
The camera’s autofocus system is generally a much faster option than manual focus – although you’ll get more accurate results if you tell the camera where you want it to focus by manually selecting one of the AF points in the viewfinder.
Auto ISO can be another life-saver. Here, the camera will raise and lower the ISO sensitivity as you move from dark to bright conditions, improving your chances of taking a sharp photo.

4. Wait for the right light.

This is what photography is all about, really: thinking about the light in terms of its quality, quantity and direction, and how it suits the subject.
To reveal detail and reduce the contrast of a scene, shoot when the light is soft and diffused. Outdoor portraits and macro photos look great when shot under bright but overcast skies. Less so at midday on a bright, clear day – the light is just too harsh.
Landscape photographers set their alarms for the early hours for a reason. The rich, raking light at sunrise (and sunset) adds warmth and texture to rural and coastal shots.
Experiment with back lighting and taking photos when a subject is lit from the side for more dramatic results. Shoot with the sun behind you by all means, but make sure your shadow doesn’t creep into the photo.
In short, keep an eye on the light and find a camera position that best takes advantage of it.

5. Why it’s better to shoot in RAW.

Most digital cameras offers a choice of two file formats to record photos in: RAW and JPEG.
If you save your photos as JPEGs, then all the choices you make in the camera will be locked into the final image.
If you find that your pictures are too dark or too bright, or the colours looks wrong, then you’ll have no option to try and fix them in Photoshop or similar image-editing software.
The problem is that JPEGs are a compromise: compared to some other file formats, they’re heavily compressed, and the quality gets progressively worse as you make further edits and continue saving the file. However, if you save a photo as a RAW file, then you’re just saving all the raw data from the camera.
In fact, all digital photos are shot in the RAW file format. It’s just that if you use the JPEG option on the camera, then it processes the raw data and saves the resulting JPEG to the memory card.
If you choose to save images as RAW files rather than JPEGs, then you have to process the images yourself, either in-camera with a compatible model or in software such as Lightroom.
Saving the RAW file enable you to go back in time: you can change some of the picture settings after you’ve taken the shot.
Want to try a different white balance or Picture Style, or tweak the exposure and sharpness? You can with RAW.
You won’t be able to change the aperture, shutter speed, ISO or focus point though, so get these photography fundamentals right at the time of shooting.

6. Avoid ‘clipped’ highlights.

If a photo is overexposed, then there’s a risk of all detail being bleached out of the brighter areas. These ‘blown’ or ‘clipped’ highlights look ugly, and it’s usually preferable to make sure you prevent this happening when you take the shot.
To do this, first find your camera’s brightness histogram – the graph that can be displayed alongside a photo during playback or Live View.
This is your at-a-glance guide to the picture’s exposure. The highlights are on the right (hey, it rhymes…) and the shadows are on the left. Or at least, that’s where they should be.
If the histogram is pushed up towards the right-hand side of the display, then the picture may be overexposed. You can double-check this by activating your camera’s Highlight Alert function, which you’ll find in the Playback menu. It causes areas of the picture that are potentially overexposed to blink when you play back an image.
If you this happens, learn how to use your camera’s Exposure Compensation function to reduce the exposure and take another shot.

7. Listen to the shutter speed.

There are many reasons why you can end up with a blurred photo, including the wrong autofocus mode being set on the camera and the lens not being focused in the right place.
But it’s the choice of shutter speed that makes a massive difference to how sharp your photos are.
The rule of thumb is that it needs to be equivalent to the focal length of the lens – so 1/50sec for a 50mm lens – or faster to be able to get sharp handheld pictures.
It’s easy to forget to check the shutter speed when you’re concentrating on getting the shot though. So keep your ears peeled: if you can hear the shutter both opening and closing, the chances are you’ll end up with a blurred photo.

8. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

The top professional photographers (the credible, consistent, creative ones) didn’t wake up one day, decide they were going to be photographers and immediately start taking great photos.
They did what the rest of us did: fumbled awkwardly with dials and buttons, became disheartened when their pictures turned out too dark or too bright and felt a flutter of excitement when they managed to take a sharp photo.
As landscape legend Ansel Adams is widely quoted as saying, ’12 significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.’
If one of the world’s greatest photographers wasn’t too worried about his hit rate, neither should you be about yours.

9. Kill the beep.

You know, the annoying beep that happens when your camera gets something in focus. It may not improve your photography, but it’ll make the process more enjoyable for you and everyone around you.

10. Look at the background first.

The quality of the background can make or break a photo, never mind how stunning your subject is.
Keep an eye out for bright and colourful objects and other elements that draw attention away from the focal point.
One day, you just might be lucky enough to have persuaded Angelina Jolie to pout in front of your lens. Honestly, you might.
But if there’s a flashy red car in the background or a telegraph pole appearing to sprout from her head, all eyes will be on those distractions instead. Ange is not going to thank you for this, trust us.

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