How to take a better photo

  • see [3] and [4] of article
  • [16] Take a knee
Date:26 September 2012 Tags:, ,

20 Ways to take a better photo

Square-one advice: [1] Get to know your camera. Spending time with the user manual won’t kill you. Some cameras even display tips on-screen while you’re shooting, as pop-ups or in help menus. Use the advice; you’ll be glad that you did.[2] Keep it clean. Smudges, specks of dirt and other nasties ruin a shot. Stash your camera in a case; buff the lens with a microfibre cloth.

Balanced, centred, gaze-into-the-lens portraits are boring. [3] Have the subject look off-frame, and [4] use the rule of thirds: Imagine a noughts-and-crosses grid within your camera frame and set your subject at one of the intersections. In a head-and-shoulders shot, align the subject’s eyes with the top horizontal line of the (imaginary) grid.

[5] Get up-close and personal. Capture one part of the body – eye, mouth, bare shoulder – because details can be telling. You don’t need a zoom for this. In fact, we recommend that you [6] use a prime lens, which has a fixed focal length. With this type of lens, you zoom with your feet (step back or forward) to compose your shot within the frame. A prime lens also often has a low F-stop rating, which lets you [7] achieve a shallow depth of field. Dial down the F-stop and pull your subject into focus, and the background will blur, creating visual separation. Also regarding backgrounds: [8] avoid clutter. A neutral backdrop keeps  the emphasis on the subject. [9] Place your subject in an unusual setting. Shots that take people out of their comfort zone yield unexpected reactions. But don’t go nuts: asking your nephew to pose next to the lion is not okay.

On overcast days or in the shade, [10] use your flash as a fill light to illuminate faces. Also, [11] get a hot-shoe bounce flash if your camera supports it. A bounce flash lets you manipulate light by reflecting it off a ceiling or other bright surface. With a basic point-and-shoot camera, [12] use a sheet of white paper to direct or diffuse light from a lamp or other source. Speaking of light, [13] avoid having your subject look into bright sunlight, unless you like squinty eyes and ugly shadows. If you must shoot in a sunny setting, [14] let the light fall at an angle across the person’s face. But if you can wait, [15] shoot just after sunrise or before sunset, when the light is softer and the colours warmer.

When snapping pics of kids or pets, [16] take a knee. Their cute mugs look even better when captured at their own height. Of course, you may also [17] shoot high or low: odd angles add drama.

[18] Take your camera everywhere as the best photos aren’t planned. And always [19] Carry extra batteries and memory cards. Having a camera with you that can’t do the job is worse than having no camera at all. Now that you’re fully equipped, [20] shoot multiple shots at a time. The second or third shot – or the fi fth one – when your subject begins to relax, can be the best one.