Beginning Photography Tip #1:
Move in Closer
Sailboat and Sunrise
Too Far Away
Sailboat and Sunrise
Becomes Better by Moving in Closer
Keep moving in closer until you are sure the photo will successfully represent your subject.
Beginning Photography Tip #2:
Do not worry about taking too many pictures and do not wait until you're absolutely certain all the knobs and buttons are in their correct position.
As the motto of one of BetterPhoto old t-shirts states, "Shoot First, Ask Questions Later."
For a great example of the rewards that can be attained by being able to work quickly, check out how Ansel Adams got "Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico."
Beginning Photography Tip #3:
Compose Your Picture with Care
- Keep the horizon level;
- Crop out extra elements that you are not interested in (more on this is the next tip);
- Consciously place your subject where you think it most belongs rather than just accepting it wherever it happens to land in the photo;
- Play with perspective so that all lines show a pattern or lead the eye to your main subject.
Beginning Photography Tip #4:Ansel Adams did to remove unwanted elements.
The easiest way to do this is to watch your borders - the edges of the view you see through the camera's viewfinder. Then recompose if anything - such as an unattractive telephone wire, an old soda can, a distracting sign, your finger, or your camera strap - hangs into your picture.
It can become more difficult if you want to, say, shoot a San Francisco cable car without a single distracting telephone line. But even in such a difficult case, you have many options.
- Focus in on a close-up that tells the whole story;
- Move around until you arrange the telephone lines into a neat pattern that leads to the subject; or
- Take a panning shot that makes the cable car remain in focus while the background goes blurry.
Panning Shot of a Bicycle Racer
See More Bicycling Pictures
Beginning Photography Tip #5:
Focus on Your Subject
You will find that a smaller depth-of-field (and smaller f-stop #) focuses all the attention upon your subject. This is great for taking a picture of your child, your dog, or your husband - subjects stand out against a blurry background.
Likewise, you will find that a greater depth-of-field (bigger f-stop number) will make everything from here to eternity appear in focus. This will help make those landscapes fascinating and lovely.
Pool at Hearst Castle
Using Deep Depth of Field
Beginning Photography Tip #6:
Experiment with Shutter Speed
Use a slow shutter speed and a tripod to make a pretty picture of any creek or stream. On the other hand, you can use a fast shutter speed (1/500 and up) to capture an object in motion.
Combining a fast shutter speed with a long lens, you sports buffs can get a trophy of your own when you are able to catch the expression on your favorite runningback's face as he slips past the final defense toward a winning touchdown. Remember, catching the moment in fast-paced action photography may take a little more practice so hang in there.
Beginning Photography Tip #7:
Look at the Light
Portrait at Sunset
How is the light affecting your subject? Is the subject squinting?
Is the light blazing directly and brightly upon your whole subject? This works well if you are in love with the bold colors of your subject.
Side lighting, on the other hand, can add drama but can also cause extreme, hard-to-print contrasts.
Lastly, indirect light can be used to make your subject glow soft and pretty.
Beginning Photography Tip #8:
Watch the Weather, Too
Clear Blue Skies and a Polarizing Filter
When the day is beautiful, go ahead and make the most of it.
If your camera allows for the use of filters, purchase a polarizer. This will help you render deep blue skies against bright white clouds, richly contrasting colors, and other wonderful effects with a simple twist of the wrist.
Beginning Photography Tip #9:
Keep Your Camera Settings Simple
Sometimes the simplest of tools work the best
Instead of relying on a fully automatic program, pick a simple, semi-automatic program such as aperture-priority and master shooting in that mode. Then, you'll be able to control certain basics without letting the other basics control you, and thus keep that 150 page manual where it belongs - in your camera bag.
Tip: if you want one accessory, bring a tripod. This one item can solve camera shake issues and help you get beautiful evening shots.
Beginning Photography Tip #10:
Kayak in Monterey Bay
Risky But Worth It
Otter Mom and Pup
If you are afraid of upsetting someone by taking their picture, just go up and ask if it's okay. Ask them to sign a release and offer a print in return.
With wildlife, adopt a low-impact method when you go places where few photographers have gone before. For the above photos, I put my camera and telephoto in a waterproof bag and kayaked out into Monterey Bay. (Lawyer-talk: This can be dangerous - so be careful.)
Be wise... but be bold.
There you have it - basic but helpful, I hope. Now go out there, make some great shots, learn from the failures, and have fun.