Photography 101 – Introduction
I was asked for a very quick and uncomplicated list of tips for beginners earlier in the week, a sort of photography 101 which is very apt for this website. The photographs in this post bear very little relationship to the post itself, couldn’t find anything really interesting that was on topic to be honest so please excuse the self indulgence.
This list is by no means comprehensive or particularly well thought out. It is a very slight modification of an email that took about ten minutes to hack together so please keep expectations low!
Get in tight! take a shot then take two steps forward and set it up again and shoot then repeat- don’t worry if the entire subject doesn’t fit in the shot, compose as best you can. To get a feel for this take some previously taken shots and crop them on the computer – if you consistently find that losing the edges improves them then get in closer when shooting.
Ignore this if: it is a one shot deal – then the priority to get everything in shot. It can be tightened up by cropping on the computer. Absolute photography 101 rule number one – always get a shot.
Never count down for the shot – great for rigid death grin – little else
Engage subjects in light conversation, pick moment then fire off two shots in quick succession.
Don’t cut limbs off at the joints e.g. crop on the forearm but not the wrist or the shin or thigh but not the knee or ankle.
Clutter free backgrounds (usually)
No trees growing out of heads (or variations of)
Focus on the eyes – this can be tricky if the subject is wearing glasses. Camera should be set to lock focus on half press so the camera can be focused then moved to compose.
The whole head doesn’t have to be in shot but crop the top of the head as opposed to the chin.
Go in tight and wide for impact e.g documentary, feature or mid zoom for formal/beauty
The always focus on the eyes advice goes for just about anything including animals, insects and even the ‘eyes’ on butterfly wings.
Start subjects with eyes closed then say “Open three two one pause shoot, shoot again quickly. 2nd shot generally the keeper. (solves the one person with eyes closed problem)
Children and Pets
Get on their level, as a rule don’t shoot down.
Interact a lot!
Shoot on Cloudy days for best results.
Get on eye level with the flower
Shoot from low to get sky in the background and show transparency of petals
Keep a spray bottle of water handy to freshen up the flowers and foilage if required.
Remember to set macro if applicable
Around dawn is the best time followed by around sunset.
Usually it is best to have a main point of focus, i.e. direct the viewers eye.
Have something in the foreground and middle ground if possible.
Take two shots at least, expose one for sky and one for land by pointing the camera, pressing shutter half down and then composing. Tendency is to expose for sky leaving rest of the scene very dark. Various software approaches can be used to expose both sky and ground correctly in the same shot. More in the comments if anyone is interested.
Overexpose by around 1 if snow look dull and grayish (which it probably will).
Set white balance to cloudy (even if conditions are sunny) if the snow is coming out very blue looking .
Ambient where ever possible
On camera flash only to supplement existing lighting (removing dark area under eyes for example), never as main source.
For indoors setting person or thing about three feet away from window at 90 degree angle to camera usually gives acceptable result. White walled rooms with windows on adjacent walls generally give a good working light as long as the sun isn’t shining directly into them.If possible use the North or South facing window as the main source and the East West as a supplementary. The light from the second window should be enough to mitigate any hardish shadows from the main one. This is very generalized and a certain amount of experimentation is highly recommended!
Photography 101 – About Rules
They are for breaking. Do so often!
Until next time..