5 Tips For Improving Your Photography

1. Learn how to use manual mode. In doing so you will force yourself to learn the basic technicalities of photography, exposure, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and the way in which these settings interact to form images. If such principles sounds like Kazakh to you then give me a high five. Now make friends with Google, read some basic photography tutorials, then get out there and start shooting in manual!2. Low ISO is the way to go. It is good practice to shoot with the lowest ISO possible whilst still maintaining a suitable aperture and shutter speed. The lower the ISO you use the less “noise” your cameras sensor will produce, your images will look cleaner, clearer, smoother and less grainy, as a result will get away with enlarging your photos more than you could had you shot with a high ISO whilst better maintaining apparent quality.3. Shutter speed can have a huge influence on the quality and look of your photographs, it can be used with purpose to freeze action or to capture movement. However, used without first understanding some basic principles poor decisions can lead to blurry, unusable images. One basic principle to keep in mind when deciding upon shutter speed is that for sharp hand held photographs (without flash) the minimum recommended shutter speed is 1/focal length. Huh? I hear you mutter. Don’t fret, it’s really easy to understand, here is how we would put this into practice. Lets say you were to shoot with a 50mm lens, the general slowest recommended shutter speed should be 1/50th of a sec. Likewise on a 200mm lens it would be 1/200th of a sec. These are the recommended minimum shutter speeds to provide shake free images. If you were to use using a sturdy tripod there is no need to worry about camera shake and thus this rule does not stand, you would however still need to consider subject movement and use a shutter speed fast enough to freeze it. Likewise if you are using a flash you may be able to get away with a slower shutter speed, understanding the use of flash and shutter speeds is an entire subject within itself and one worth your learning if you use flash.4. Depth of field, no we are not talking about baseball. Depth of field, or DOF as it is known refers to the area of acceptable focus that extends beyond and in front of the focal point. DOF really is worth learning as it can have a huge influence on the look and feel of your photographs. Say we are photographing a landscape and we want the viewer to feel like they can look into the scene, through using a large DOF we are able to render the entire image from foreground to background is in focus, thus allowing the viewer to look throughout the scene and see detail in both the foreground and background. For such results one would use a small aperture. Small aperture = large f stop number, e.g. f22. On the other hand having an entire scene in focus in a portrait photo is often distracting and detracts from the subject. In this case you may wish to reduce the DOF by shooting with a large aperture, or small f-stop number. E.g. f2. I strongly suggest you read further about DOF and experiment with it’s role in your photography.5. Fill flash, understand what it is and how to implement it. On camera flash is notorious for its unflattering amateurish look, however if used with understanding and knowledge fill flash can add a lot to your images without resulting in ugly flat light. First off, fill flash is not a particular type of equipment, but rather a method in which flash is used. By setting your on camera or hot shoe flash power to approx. 1 stop under the ambient light strength you will be able to open up the shadows and shoot portraits under full harsh sunlight whilst avoiding the heavy shadows in the eyes that so often ruin middle of the day photographs. Whilst it is often best to move subjects into the shade or avoid shooting during the middle of a bright sunny day this is often not an option, in such situation fill flash will be your best friend.When it comes down to it photography really isn’t rocket science, with a little effort and time put into understanding the basics your photography will improve innumerably, the main thing to keep in mind is that learning the basics isn’t going to happen unless you make a point of doing so, it’s not hard and there is so much to gain. Now get shooting!

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