Since posts here at An Oregon Cottage are usually photo-heavy, you can imagine that one of the workshops I was most excited about at the Savvy Blogging Summit was the one about photography led by David Mejias.
Especially since I know that many of my pictures are not, shall we say…up to par? And before you come to my defense (you were, weren’t you?) you should know that one of my photos was used in the “what’s wrong with this picture” portion of the workshop.
And, no, I’m not re-posting the picture to show you which one. Believe me, once was enough.
Once I got over the
embarrassment privilege of having one of my photos discussed, I realized the amount of great information was even more than I expected. I think one of the reasons was because David was so approachable and real and gave us basic tips that we could use right away, no matter what kind of camera we were using: point-and-shoot or fancy DSLR.
I think you all will find these tips helpful, too, because even if you only take pictures of your family activities, there are tips here that will make them stand out from the crowd.
But promise not to look at the photos on my posts with a critical eye, OK? There’s only so much a girl can do…
Five Tips for Better Pictures With Any Camera:
1. Know (and use) your equipment
- learn your camera to “see how it sees” (i.e., does it crop photos differently than shown on screen?)
- use a tripod for still photos to minimize shaking
- external flashes, if available, are great for putting light where you want it
- experiment with the manual mode on both point-and-shoot and DLSR cameras
2. Have the picture tell a story:
- simplify the background
- everything in the frame is important (think about the edges and what the eye is drawn to)
- context is ok- show enough of background to tell the story (i.e., show that the room is a kitchen)
- the eye is drawn to the biggest thing in the picture (so if the fence takes up most of the picture, the eye sees that first, not the flower…)
3. Move around and experiment/take risks
- take pictures from all different angles
- try close ups as well as farther away
- take many pictures to get just one good one (30-40!?)
- try different lighting
4. Use the right lighting:
- hard or soft lighting is determined by the size of the light source to the size of the subject (overcast days create softness; flash is harsh/hard)
- use both overhead light and window light to get blue and yellow light
- holding the camera farther from subject creates harsher light- closer creates softer light
5. Manipulate lighting:
- use tissue paper over a point-and-shoot flash to soften the light source
- use a large foam core white board to deflect light
- use a flash on sunny days to open the shadows (!!)
- hang a white sheet or sheer curtain over a window to create a soft light.
- use clamp-on sliver work lights from a home improvement store with different florescent light bulbs (warm and cool) and no flash
- create an all-white background with a sheet or paper
As you can see, I was most interested in the lighting because that is the area I’ve been trying to improve (deal with?) in my photos for this site. I haven’t needed to manipulate my lighting yet (yeah for summer…) but when our gray days return I’m definitely going to be trying these tips.
What tips have you found work great to help you produce better photographs?
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