You don’t need to be a professional photographer to capture the best moments happening around you. These tips and tricks will elevate your photography skills — just be ready to become the new in-house photographer for all your family events.
USE THE RULE OF THIRDS
The rule of thirds is a great starting point for upping your photography skills and is the secret to all well-composed photos.
Before taking a photo, imagine that the scene is laid out on a 3x3 grid with two equally spaced vertical lines that intersect with two equally spaced horizontal lines. Focus on arranging the point of interest at one of the four intersecting points or on the right or left side within the gridlines.
Many digital cameras have a grid function that you can see through the viewfinder; check the user manual of your camera model to learn how to turn it on. Smartphones also have a grid option you can turn on.
- Launch the camera app
- Go to “Settings”
- Scroll down and switch the “grid lines” option to “on”
- Go to “Settings”
- Tap the camera icon
- Scroll down to “Composition”
- Turn the “Grid” option on
- Return to your camera
If you’re using the manual setting on a digital camera, you may notice how still you have to be to get a clear shot. A tripod will soon become your best friend, saving you from the frustration of trying to keep steady. There are a variety of tripods to fit your needs. The most common you will come across is an all-in-one which comes with the legs and head permanently attached. This type is perfect for beginners since it’s easily portable and quick to set up. Travel tripods are also worth looking into if you plan on taking a tripod on your adventures afar. The downside, however, is that you lose some functions and a good bit of height.
There are also tripods for smartphones (not to be confused with the selfie stick) which are perfect for when you don’t want to lug around the extra camera equipment during your travels.
CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
Have fun shooting from different and unexpected angles. Taking a shot looking straight up or down adds depth to a photo and makes it more interesting. If your subject is able to change positions and locations, take advantage of all the new perspectives that will bring to the shoot. Just make sure you put safety first!
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NATURAL LIGHTING
Lighting is one of the key elements to a good photo. Golden hour happens during the hour after sunrise and before sunset. This peak hour for photography gives images a warm, rich glow that magically enhances the subject. Blue hour happens before sunrise and after sunset. Shooting during this time will give your images a dark, moody feel. This time of day is perfect for capturing cityscapes and lakes. Using this natural lighting for your photographs could be the game changer you’ve been looking for.
AUTO MODE IS OVERRATED
Whether you’re using your smartphone or a digital camera, being familiar with all of its functions and capabilities will not only make it easier to use but will lead to better photos. The first function to learn is switching from auto to manual mode.
Using your digital camera on manual may be a bit more challenging, but you’ll be much happier with the results once you master the technique. Here are the important settings you’ll want to learn for the best photos.
This setting handles the brightness in your photos and can change regularly, especially when shooting outside. A higher number will make your photos brighter but will also cause them to be grainy. A lower number darkens your images. It can take a few tries to find the perfect balance but once you do, your photos will be stunning.
This is your camera’s exposure time. A faster shutter speed is ideal for capturing moving objects or wildlife. A slower shutter speed is perfect if you want to capture a motion blur or are shooting in dim light.
This setting affects light exposure and depth of field. Portrait photographers often use a large aperture for a crisp central image against a busier background. Landscape photos may require a small aperture if there is no one area of focus.
Newer phone models also offer the user control over the ISO and other settings. Visit your device manufacturer's website for helpful guides.
Even when you take a beautiful shot, you’ll probably notice it didn’t quite capture the moment or the colors as you saw them. Thankfully, in today’s digital world, there are countless editing tools to make it picture-perfect. Once in the editor, you can get to work on cropping and straightening your photo, cleaning up any dust spots and adjusting settings like exposure, contrast and saturation. Making sure the editing looks as natural as possible is key to pulling off the final flawless touches.
Before you rush off to spend big bucks on top-of-the-line editing software, check out free apps and online tools or cheap editing software that can help get you started. Depending on your needs, you may discover these free or affordable options offer everything you’re looking for.
A free app that allows you to fine tune with pro-level editing tools.
Free software that gives beginners everything they need to edit their photos.
Free online software offering an expansive set of tools to really enhance photos. Its in-depth functions are comparable to Adobe’s Lightroom, making it great for beginners who are serious about taking their photography and editing to the next level.