Top 19 Photography Tips For Beginners

Tip 1: Use RAW File Format

This is one neat tip that you should learn from experimenting with your camera. A lot of cameras offer RAW, if yours has this feature, use it. The RAW file format stores more data and so allows you to capture more detail and colour enabling you more room for tweaking the settings in post production. This allows you to maintain a realistic look when editing files, which will make a whole lot of difference to the end result. Also all changes made to RAW files can be undone and restored to the original photo.

Tip 2: Light and Darkness

Before you take the shot, take a look at your subject for dark and light areas, such as shadows and strong sunlight, and try to include both of these in the photo as this should create a pleasing contrast. A good example of this would be dark clouds with shafts of sunlight appearing through, or with a portrait shot you may want to place the subject with a shadow across part of the face.

Tip 3: Composition

A simple tip for composition is using lead in lines, which are vertical lines starting near the bottom of your photo which lead up to the main subject of your photo. Try arranging your photo with a subject in the foreground area for a more interesting landscape photo. Also look out for contrasting areas such as shadows and highlights to shoot.

Tip 4: ISO

This requires a bit of practice when set manually, but as a general rule use the lowest ISO possible to get a sharp image. Increasing ISO gives you faster shutter speeds, which will allow you to take photos hand held in darker conditions and at night without using a tripod. Increasing ISO is also useful for using a smaller aperture, for example in a landscape photo. The negative side to this is, the higher you increase the ISO, the more noise you will add to your photos, although higher end cameras suffer less with this.

Tip 5: Try an ND FilterĀ 

An ND (neutral density) filter is useful for taking photos with a slower shutter speed, such as when you want to add blur to your photo. By adding an ND filter, the amount of light entering the camera decreases which means the shutter speed also needs to be decreased in order to capture the photo at the correct exposure. An ND graduated filter can also be used to darken just part of the photo, and is usually used to darken clouds.

Tip 6: Flat Light

Light that has a small exposure range, more common on a cloudy day is known as flat light. These conditions are often bad for some types of photography such as landscapes, but can be good for portrait photography, by creating a more even, soft lighting, but you may want to add some flash if the conditions are too dim. In the event of flat lighting, you may want to look for very contrasting subjects, for example snow and a dark path.

Tip 7: Add Some Blur

Add some blur to your photo, or part of your photo for a more creative shot. A common subject that is often blurred is water, such as a river or waterfall. You can add blur by decreasing your shutter speed using ND filters and a smaller Aperture on your camera. When increasing the shutter speed, you will need to use a tripod to prevent any unwanted blur to the rest of your image.

Tip 8: Night Photography

Using bulb mode (B) you can take an exposure of more than 30 seconds, which is useful for taking photos in the dark. This is also useful for taking photographs of the sky at night, but make sure to remove any filters such as skylight or UV since these may produce flares or halos from light sources, which could be a problem if shooting for example in a lit up city.

Tip 9: Take Unique Photos

Take some different or unique looking photos by thinking outside of the box. Some different types of photography you could try are black and white photography, underwater photography and HDR photography. You could also try tweaking your camera settings to over or under expose your photos for a unique looking effect. You can do almost anything to your photos in Photoshop, such as removing all of the colour and just leaving one or two colours in, or adding a photo filter.

Tip 10: Burst Mode

Burst mode can be of use when capturing fast moving scenes, such as in sports. This mode captures photos in quick succession, and can be utilized by pressing and holding down the shutter button. Burst is useful for freezing movement and getting a sharp photo of a fast moving object, and more photos means you have a higher chance of getting the perfect shot. Also when you press the shutter button, this jerks the camera and so the first image may be blurry, but subsequent shots will be sharper.

Tip 11: Timing and Contrast

Different times of the day bring different conditions, and each have their own advantages, but generally the morning and evening has the most dramatic lighting conditions, since shadows are longer and the lighting is usually more colourful at these times. The time of the year also dictates different conditions, such as on a winter morning there may be fog and frost or snow which can create an interesting atmosphere and contrast. But in summer the sun is much higher in the sky and the shadows will be shorter and less dramatic.

Tip 12: HDR (High Dynamic Range)

High Dynamic Range (HDR) allows you to capture a larger range of colours and lighting from a scene and so capture more of the detail. An example of this is if you were to take a photo of a bright sky with a dark landscape below (likely the sky will be overexposed, or the landscape underexposed), but using HDR you can capture the sky and landscape at the correct exposures. For some useful software to create HDR photos, check out Photomatix.

Tip 13: Outdoor Flash

Flash is useful both indoors and out. On a dull, cloudy day, some fill in flash may come in useful to light up the scene, although this will only be useful in the foreground and works best with portraits. Also on a sunny day when taking a portrait the subjects face may be covered in a shadow, so some fill in flash will also be useful then to light up the face.

Tip 14: Manual Mode

Manual mode takes some time and work to master, but once you understand how to use aperture and shutter priority modes, it’s time to start using manual. This mode is useful for situations where the light level is consistent and you want to get the same exposure each time, without the camera automatically changing any settings between shots which is common in other modes. It will take a lot of trial and error to get the correct exposure at first, but with time you will learn what works in different situations.

Tip 15: Edit your photos

Editing your photos is frowned at by some people as unauthentic and unnatural, but almost any great photo will have been edited to some degree, whether it be, levels adjustment, saturation or simply cropping. There are more advanced tools available to use now, and one which I would recommend you to use is Lightroom. Some of the useful tools available in Lightroom are clarity, vibrance and black & white mix.

Tip 16: Find different angles

Don’t just take the photo from the first available location you can find, take a look around and test out different positions. You may get a more interesting shot from low on the ground or much higher up, or try getting in closer.

Tip 17: Use a Polarizing Filter

Probably one of the most useful filters you can buy is a polarizer. They can be used to remove reflections in things such as water and glass, and to enhance the colours in your photos. They are very useful for landscapes in particular, and will make the sky appear darker and more blue.

Tip 18: Take lots of shots

Don’t just take 1 shot and expect it to be the best you will get, there may be a slight blur or the focus may be off, which you may not see when reviewing the photo on your camera screen. Take lots of photos of the same subject, perhaps changing up the angle or camera settings for each shot, and you have a much better chance of getting that perfect shot.

Tip 19: Prevent Blur

Blurred photos is perhaps one of the most annoying and common things that can be prevented by taking some simple measures. A slow shutter speed is most commonly the cause of blurred photos, as a general rule you should aim to use a shutter speed at least equal to the focal length of your lens. For example if using a lens at a focal length of 50mm, you should aim for a shutter speed of at least 1/60, and this applies when you zoom in also, so if you zoom to 200mm you should aim for 1/250 at least.

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