How To Take Good Pictures For Beginners

This guide covers some of the basics of how to take good pictures, and goes into detail to help you capture them and improve your photography skills.

Choose The Right Gear

Having the right gear is a good start to ensure you’ll get the best pictures possible. DSLR’s are the standard and you should consider investing in one, because they have the most functionality and highest image quality because of their big sensors and lenses. Some compact cameras are now available with DSLR size sensors and lenses, but in a smaller body, and these are worth looking at, although they cost a lot more than a comparable DSLR. If you’re looking for a DSLR, you should consider a Nikon or Canon, because these are the most popular and well known DSLR brands. Almost all cameras will give you the option of buying a kit lens with them, these are usually very good and they come at increasing quality and prices depending on how high end the camera is, so you should add one of these to your purchase.

Use A Tripod

Serious photographers use tripods to reduce camera shake, especially for long exposures, to get the sharpest image possible. They are commonly used for landscapes and night photography because these usually require longer exposures due to the darker conditions. In landscape photography the use of filters reduces the amount of light hitting the camera sensor, and so tripods are often used in these situations as well. Tripods aren’t essential, but they come into use for every photographer at some point, so you should definitely have one as a backup even if it’s rarely used.

Learn Composition Basics

There are a few composition techniques you can learn to help you take better pictures. The most well known ones and useful to learn are the rule of thirds, the golden ratio and lead in lines. The rule of thirds is a way of splitting the scene with 2 vertical lines spaced equally apart and 2 horizontally. You then line subjects in your scene up along one of the lines, and/or place them at one of the points where the lines intersect. The golden ratio is similar to the rule of thirds, except the lines aren’t equally spaced, but are spaced according to the ratio of 1 to 1.618, which is easier to understand when viewed visually. Lead in lines are vertical lines that start at the bottom of the photo and lead up to a subject of interest, and they are useful to keep the viewers attention and lead the eye through the image. The lines can be anything such as a road, footpath, or something in nature that acts as a line, like a row of hedges.

Know When To Shoot

Different times of the day can give remarkably different photos. There’s certain times that are much better for photography, and times when you’ll get dull looking photos. The morning and evening are usually the best times for photography, because of the warm, dramatic light and long shadows. Midday often has a much cooler and flatter light in summer, because the sun is directly overhead and there’s not any big shadows to create more dramatic photos. For portrait photography, you can get good pictures at any time of the day, even on much cloudier days because the clouds act like a giant soft box, but for other types of photography you will probably get pretty boring photos on a cloudy day.

Take Lots Of Photos

Take as many photos as possible to maximize your chances of getting some good ones. Some professional photographers might frown on this idea, but for beginners it will give you more chances to see what works and what doesn’t and learn a lot faster. You should take time to take each of your photos and not just snap away in the hopes one turns out good, but if you’ve put all your effort into taking the photo, perhaps try taking it from some different angles.

Use Flash

Flash is most commonly used indoors to light up dark rooms, but this often creates a very harsh light with shadows behind the subjects, especially when using on camera flash. Flash should really only be used when you have a good flash gun, otherwise try cranking your ISO up to increase the shutter speed and this should give you a much better photo than with your built in camera flash. Flash isn’t used outside often, but they can be used even in daylight for some situations, for example if you’re in the shade, or for portraits where the sun is behind your subject, and their face is in the shade, you may need a bit of fill in flash to light up their face from the front.

Change Your Aperture

The ability to change the aperture is one of the major differences between compact cameras and DSLR cameras, although some newer compacts now have the ability to change it. Aperture basically is how much light is let through the lens, so the smaller the aperture, the smaller the hole and the less light that is let through the lens. Smaller apertures, keep a lot more of your scene in focus, which is useful for landscapes where you want everything from back to front to be sharp. A good aperture to use for landscapes is around f8 to f16, note that the larger the f number, the smaller the aperture. For portraits where you want your models face to be sharp, but the rest of the scene to be thrown out of focus you would be looking at a much wider aperture, around the lowest f number your camera is capable of.

Use Filters

Filters are most commonly used in landscapes and black and white photography. The most popular type of filter is the polariser, which is used to block reflections in glass and water, but also for it’s ability to increase the intensity of colours. ND grad filters is another type of filter most commonly used in landscapes to darken the sky, because a lot of detail is usually lost in this area due to the contrast between the sky and land in brightness. If you’re interested in getting into black and white photography you may find coloured filters useful, which gives the photo a more contrasty look by making certain colours appear darker depending on which filter you use. A filter that will come in use for any type of photography is the UV filter. This blocks UV light which is invisible to the eye, but they can increase image quality slightly, and a lot of photographers leave them on their lenses as a lens protector.

Edit Your Photos

Editing your photos ensures you get the best images possible. If you intend on editing a lot of your images, you should consider capturing your images using RAW file format, because this gives you more room to edit your photos without losing image quality, because more image data is stored in this format which can be used when editing. If you don’t have any image editing software, a good choice of software to invest in that I would recommend is Adobe Lightroom. This is a good alternative to Adobe Photoshop because it’s a lot easier to use, and has all the features you’ll need for editing photos. As a rough guide to improve your photos using Lightroom, try playing around with the contrast, clarity and vibrance, and if you’re taking in black and white, also play around with the blacks, whites and black & white mix.

Comments are closed.