How To Take Better Photos

This post is meant for newbie photographers who want to experiment with a little creative control.

So, you’ve bought a shiny new ultra-compact, or the latest DSLR you could afford.  And, you just can’t wait to start shooting every thing that comes your way, eager to show off your photography skills to your friends and family.  But…

When you start using that fancy new camera, you begin to wonder if it was all marketing hype.  Surely, modern technology can’t get that bad?!  Surely all those $$$ you spent on your latest toy couldn’t have been a waste?!

It happens to many of us.  Sometimes, it can get quite intimidating for newbies to get good results from their new tool.  Yes, modern cameras make it very easy to get “technically” good results – provided you let your camera do the thinking.  That means turning the dial to the Green / Auto / Idiot mode and getting predictable, boring results.  But, if you venture into the Program/Aperture/Shutter/Manual modes, or start fiddling around with the 257+ menu items built into your camera, you may soon discover that the results are far from ideal.

If you still want to get more juice out of your camera, and don’t mind learning just a couple of things to begin with, there is still hope.

Here’s a simple 4-Step guide to get you started:

Step 1: Turn the dial to P for Program mode (Use A for Aperture if you’re shooting portraits instead)

Step 2: Compose your frame, Shoot the pic, and review on your LCD screen

Step 3 a: If happy with the result, go to Step 2 to shoot some more!

Step 3 b: If unhappy, find the [+/-] button on your camera, and change the setting to brighter/darker, and then go to Step 2

If your camera offers the option, review the “Histogram” for the pic, and tweak the Exposure settings till you get a well-spaced graph; It is the simplest way to ensure that you have got the required details in the frame, irrespective of the quality/size of your LCD screen.

Step 4: Rinse and repeat from Step 2, for each new frame.

Bottom line : If there’s one thing you need to master to get better results from your camera, it would have to be the Exposure Compensation.  Remember, all cameras “meter” (read the light) differently, and the [+/-] compensation you will need for every frame will vary.  So, learn to use that feature well.  Happy clicking!

Bonus Tip: If you are aiming for “accurate color rendition” in your photos, you will need to get comfy with the White Balance setting on your digital camera.  Again, there is no such thing as the ‘right’ setting – it’s a matter of personal taste.  But, it helps to know what Shade / Tungsten / Flourescent can do for each shot that is not taken in direct sunlight…

See Also : Understanding Histograms

FreeAgent Checklist

Another gem from Seth Godin – ‘16 questions for free agents‘ – helps any one starting out as an entrepreneur / freelancer / project manager, by asking them 16 questions that will guide them to make the most important choice they’ll make.

Here are some of my favourite ones from the list… 

– Who are you trying to please?
– Are you trying to make a living, make a difference, or leave a legacy?
– Is it more important to add new customers or (engage with) existing ones?
– Are you prepared to actively sell your stuff?
– Which: to invent a category or to be just like Bob/Sue, but better?
– Choose: teach and lead and challenge your customers, or do what they ask…
– Do you want your customers to know each other (a tribe)?
– What does busy look like?

 These questions may just mark the beginning of a journey for you.  And, an important one at that…

Tools of the Trade

After a long time, I’ve encountered a post on Photography that I just had to share with you. 

Now, I fully realize that the world is divided among those who love Ken Rockwell and those who think  he’s simply over-the-top and downright crazy.  I’ve always found that, just like with any other writing, if you’re willing to make up your own mind on the subject, after weighing in all the info, you will find that Ken makes a lot of sense on the things he writes about. 

This recent post entitled ‘The Pen and the Signature‘ is just one example.  Plus, it concerns a subject that always comes up in conversation when a newbie photographer encounters a more experienced one : “So, what camera do you use?”

If I gave you my pen, would you have my signature? Of course not.  So if I gave you my camera, would you take pictures that look like mine? Of course not.  Why would anyone think otherwise?

Camera makers don’t want you to know is that it’s you that makes a picture, not the camera. A picture is as unique to the taker of that picture as is his signature…

All images are reflections of the photographer who created them. Good photographers are artists who have their own style. Crappy photographers are crappy precisely because they show no style of their own, or spend their time trying to copy the style of others, or simply shoot away without thinking…

Purchasing the world’s finest camera and carefully leveling it on the world’s most stable tripod and carefully color profiling everything and working everything over in raw in Photoshop for six hours afterwards is the best way to make completely forgettable images. Being yourself and showing us your own way of seeing things is the way to make remarkable images.

No one else sees with your eyes. Vision is not a team sport. You have to see for yourself, and show us yourself in your images.

Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?!