Many people think they will improve their photography by buying a spiffy new camera. In photography, technique is more important than equipment. In addition, taking good pictures is something anyone can do with any camera, if you practice enough and avoid some common mistakes.
Part 1 of 8: Understanding Your Camera
- Remember to bring spare batteries or charge it if you are using a digital camera.
4. Go outside. Motivate yourself to get out and take photographs in natural light. Take several normal ‘point and shoot’ pictures to get a feel for the lighting at different times of the day and night. Go outside, especially when most people are eating, watching television, or sleeping. Lighting is often dramatic and unusual to many people precisely because they never get to see it!
Part 4 of 8: Using Your Camera
5. Keep the lens clear of caps, thumbs, straps and other obstructions. It is basic, yes, but any of these (often unnoticed) obstructions can ruin a photograph. This is less of a problem with modern live-preview digital cameras, and even less of a problem with an SLR camera. However, people still make these mistakes, especially when in a rush to take the image.
6. Set your white balance. Put simply, the human eye automatically compensates for different kinds of lighting; white looks white to us in almost any lighting. A digital camera compensates for this by shifting the colors certain ways.
For example, under tungsten (incandescent) lighting, it will shift the colours towards blue to compensate for the redness of this lighting. The white balance is one of the most critical and underused settings on modern cameras. Learn how to set it, and what the various settings mean. If you are not under artificial light, the “Shade” (or “Cloudy”) setting is a good bet in most circumstances; it makes for very warm-looking colors. If it comes out too red, it’s very easy to correct it in software later on. “Auto”, the default for most cameras, sometimes does a good job, but also sometimes results in colours which are a little too cold.
7. Set a slower ISO speed, if circumstances permit. This is less of an issue with digital SLR cameras, but especially important for point-and-shoot digital cameras (which, usually, have tiny sensors which are more prone to noise). A slower ISO speed (lower number) makes for less noisy photographs; however, it forces you to use slower shutter speeds as well, which restricts your ability to photograph moving subjects, for example. For still subjects in good light (or still subjects in low light, too, if you’re using a tripod and remote release), use the slowest ISO speed that you have.
8. Balance in ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. ISO is how sensitive your camera is to light, shutter speed is how long it takes for your camera to take a picture (which in turn alters the amount of light coming in), and aperture is how dilated the lens of your camera is. Not all cameras have this, mostly only digital photography cameras. By balancing these and keeping them as close to the middle as possible, you can avoid the noise caused by high ISO, the blurriness caused by low shutter speed, and the depth of field side effects caused by low aperture. Depending on how your picture should be, you should change these settings accordingly to keep light at a good level but still have the effects you want on your picture. For example, say you are taking a picture of a cool bird coming out of the water. You will need a high shutter speed to get it in focus, but you will also need a low aperture or high ISO to compensate for the lighting. A high ISO will make it look grainy, but a low aperture is perfect because it also creates a cool blurry background effect that draws attention to the bird. By balancing these elements, you can make the best image possible.