Photography is easier than ever thanks to the development of digital cameras. Smartphone cameras and basic compact models can produce perfectly exposed, correctly focused pictures in most situations. However, results are often disappointing, and basic camera skills are still necessary if you want to produce satisfying images.
Taking a second to check the framing and composition of a shot before you take a picture is one simple way to improve your photography. Capturing a scene or moment in a two-dimensional picture requires some thought and attention to detail. The following tips will help you to improve your photography without the need hours of study or investment in expensive equipment.
1) Read the manual.
Even the most basic digital cameras offer a range of features and options. They are designed to operate straight from the box, but you’ll miss out on what a camera is capable of if you don’t take some time to read the instruction manual. It’s particularly important to study the manual for a digital SLR (DSLR) camera.
2) Check the background.
Distractions in the background of a photograph are one of the most reasons for disappointing pictures. An object appearing as if it’s sticking out of a person’s head is an example. Taking a few steps to the side or crouching down to change your shooting angle are easy ways to change the background of a picture.
3) Consider the lighting.
Photography is often described as ‘painting with light,’ and the impact of lighting must never be overlooked. Bright, direct sunlight creates harsh shadows and high contrast. The color, direction and strength of the light is a key factor in outdoor photography. Landscape pictures are generally more appealing if taken close to the time of sunrise or sunset. Portrait pictures are more flattering to the subject if shot in soft, even lighting.
4) Focus on the main subject.
Modern digital cameras have advanced focusing systems, but they don’t get things right every time. If you’re serious about learning photography, switch to manual focusing and experiment with different settings. Unless you’re trying to create a specific effect, the main subject of a photograph should be in sharp focus. Changing aperture settings to increase or decrease the depth of field creates different focusing effects.
5) Check the horizon.
Easily avoidable oversights can spoil otherwise great photographs. Deliberately tilting the camera can add drama to a picture, but for most shots, the horizon should be straight. The eye will pick up on a crooked horizon, and what may seem like a small detail will completely detract from the subject. Using live view to compose shots on a camera’s rear screen is a simple way to check the horizon is level.
6) Fill the frame.
One of the differences between a snapshot and a great photograph is the impact of the main subject. Moving closer to the subject or using a zoom lens to fill the frame with it is another simple way to improve a picture. If when framing a shot you aren’t clear what the main subject is, you may need to stop and consider if it will work.
7) Study the work of great photographers and artists.
There’s no better way to understand how to use composition to create great photographs than to look at works of art. Visit a gallery or study a book on famous paintings. It may not seem relevant to look at classic works of art in the age of digital photography, but studying the use of composition, color, tone and lighting can be of great benefit.
It’s often assumed that the way to improve photography is to buy better equipment, but this is not the case. Understanding the features of your camera and how to compose pictures effectively are smarter ways to create more satisfying photographs.