We’re fast coming up on the holiday season, when you may be taking plenty of photos to remember Halloween, Thanksgiving, and before you know it, the Christmas and Kwanzaa holidays. Who knew that some of the best advice when you’re looking for love would be great advice for taking pictures also?
Be Selective –Find what you are really interested in and center your efforts on getting the best photo of this subject, whether it’s a still life, your dog, or a a friend. Keep out anything that may divert attention from the main image. Note the edges of the view and recompose the photograph if anything such as an unattractive telephone wire, a distracting sign, or something else enters your picture.
Get Close – You may get a better shot by moving in closer. Frame the subject until it almost fills the frame. Details will be sharp and clear.
Focus on the Object of Your Attention – Practice shooting with different apertures and examine the resulting photos to learn how altering the depth-of-field affects them. A smaller depth-of-field (and smaller f-stop number) focuses all the attention upon your subject so that it stands out against a blurry background. For landscapes, remember that a greater depth-of-field (bigger f-stop number) will make everything appear in focus.
Keep It Simple – Even if your camera is equipped with everything except the kitchen sink, you should probably keep it simple. That doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of some of your camera’s features. Instead of relying on a fully automatic program, pick a basic semi-automatic program and master shooting in that mode. You’ll be able to control the functions without letting the fancy stuff take over.
Compose Thoughtfully – Like you’re writing a love letter, compose your photo with care. Place your subject where you think it most belongs rather than just taking the shot wherever it happens to land in the photo. Experiment with perspective so that all lines lead your eye to the main subject. Remember the “Rule of Thirds.” Note where in the set up the most interesting and strong lines travel and try to lead the viewer’s eye along that path with thoughtful composition. Keep the horizon level, and crop out unwanted elements.
Experiment – Some events happen so quickly that we could barely notice it in real time, while others are excruciatingly slow. So play around with shutter speed. When taking photos of objects in motion like sports events, for example, use a fast shutter speed (1/500 and up). Remember that catching fast-paced action may take a little more practice.
Lights on, or dimmed? It’s usually best to shoot with the sun behind you. To get a silhouette effect, where your subject is black against the background, shoot with the sun in front. Side lighting can add drama but it can also cause severe contrasts that are difficult to print. Indirect light can be used to make your subject glow soft.
Be bold – Don’t be fearful of using the wrong settings or taking a “bad” picture. With wildlife, adopt a low-impact method and don’t unsettle the environment around you. The saying goes, “Don’t take anything except pictures, and leave nothing other than a footprint.” If you are taking photos of other people, simply go up and ask if it’s okay.