Wow, I suck!!! I’m really, really bad :O
Thats the conclusion that I came to within a week of taking my pictures for my 365 day project. A decision came to my mind that I would start studying techniques, reading tips and actually figuring out how to use my camera, which is a point and click from a few years ago. My problems were lighting, focus, and positioning of the object, my shots were drab and boring, and whoever I made to suffer through viewing them were probably thinking of gouging their eyes out.
Lighting, as I found over the last month plays more of a role that simply making a shot bright or dark. In its simplest it plays a pivotal role making the picture appear too dark or too bright. But on a deeper level it creates the shot, throwing shadows and creating colour.
Some basic tips that I picked up on in my reading were:
- As much as possible keep the light source behind you. Make sure the subjects being shot are not standing in front of your light source or they will appear as dark blobs.
- Avoid the flash as much as possible, it will do one of two things, give hard shadows to your subjects or darken the background and very often do both.
- Shoot using a manual ISO setting, I use 80 with the Sunlight setting and Exposure at neutral or -0.5 on really bright days.
My camera has very few focusing modes, terrible zoom and very few shooting options. Taking all this into consideration I came to the conclusion that I should take the shot my camera can take rather than those that are not within it capabilities. Sticking to semi-macro because I consider true macro to be something only a DSLR to be capable of and full size short-range pictures, by this I mean no landscapes, nighttime photography or pictures that require a quick shutter speed.
Framing the Subject
I think more than anything else I learnt the importance of framing a subject, the type of framing you choose is significant as it becomes the focus of you picture. A few things that I learnt were:
- When shooting people, move the subject away from the middle and more towards the left or right depending on the way they are facing.
- There is no harm in tilting a subject.
- Capturing emotions are hard.
- Get in close to your subject.
- Get down to the subjects level, if your shooting a bug get down to its level and shoot.
- The crazy shots are the most fun to look at.
These are just some of the things that I learnt but the single most important thing was that there are no hard and fast rules in photography, just keep shooting and keep enjoying.
One or two interesting side effects were that I found I spent more time outdoors and that I would no longer look at something, I would notice and frame it mentally, looking at how the light falls on it, and see the colour variations on it.
- Reddit’s photoclass, a lesson based guide going from one topic to another explaining some key points to consider.
- A very detailed guide with examples, my go to for information and guidance.
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