Take Better Photos

Just Take It!

 

The best camera is the one you have with you.

Always carry a camera, most of us have one in our mobile phone, and use it at every opportunity

If your camera is in a case, take it out and turn it on

Taking the camera out of the case is a small barrier to taking a picture, but if you’re as lazy as me it’ll stop you bothering

Keep your mobile handy

If it’s the only camera you have with you, keep it in your hand. Put a shortcut to the camera app on the home screen

If you think you see a picture, stop and take it.

I’ll use any excuse not to take a picture, if I’m on the way some where, then I’ll tell myself I can’t afford the time, or, it’s a terrible shot that’s not worth the time. At the very least, taking the shot with be good practise and help us learn the camera

Know your camera – what operational modes are available

Find out what all the buttons are for and what all the positions on the dials mean. You might need to look at the instruction book, or at an online tutorial about your camera. Make sure that at least you know how to change the ‘modes’.

Good times to learn about you camera

On a rainy Sunday afternoon
In front of TV when you partners watching that you don’t like
On a long haul flight

Bad times to learn about you camera

At your daughter’s wedding

Keep the lens clean

Clean the lens of your phone every time you use it. Use a proper lens cloth

Never use digital zoom, move closer to the subject

Mobile phones will probably have digital zoom, they don’t zoom they just crop the picture down which reduces the definition making the photo appear grainy, blurry, or pixelated.

Consider camera support

There are times when you want to use slower shutter speeds. Keep the picture sharp so just the moving elements are blurred by using a tripod or monopod. Or balancing it on the head of a small child.

Light

Pay attention to lighting

Under artificial light, work out where the light sources are, ad what sort of light is it? How hard, (sharp) are the shadows? Try moving the subject around the space, all the time watching how the light changes on the subject. When working outdoors consider the time of day, the direction of the sun and the weather!

Use window light

Natural light, but not direct sunlight coming through a window can be a wonderful light source creating beautiful soft lighting. It’s especially good for portraits and can also work well for food and products.

Avoid using flash, only do so during the day.

Flash doesn’t always result in harsh shadows and that obvious flash look. When shooting with flash in manual mode, you can match the light in the scene to make subjects pop, and the untrained eye won’t be able to tell you even used a flash.

Set your camera app’s exposure manually

Both shutter speed and aperture are creative choices having great effect on how a picture turns out. Letting the camera choose the ISO setting can let you, the photographer make the choice of shutter speed and aperture to create the effect you want. Be careful to make sure that the camera hasn’t ‘run out’ of adjustment leaving the picture under or over exposed.

Use spot metering

Set the camera so you can choose whereabouts in the frame of your picture the camera measures the exposure. Otherwise you can end up with silhouettes or burned-out faces.

Consider setting a specific white balance

Getting good colour is about more than achieving good white balance. Digital cameras will actually let you set a colour profile, which adjusts the tones in an image to your personal taste and saves you a considerable amount of time in post processing. Most cameras will have a number of pre-sets too, such as standard and vivid, as well as several customisation options.

 

Motion Blur and Focus

A little blur can make a picture

Camera shake causes blurry pictures and is usually a bad thing. When the subject itself is moving an amount of blur can make a picture more dynamic, more alive. Such as the tennis players serving arm and racket, the water in a fountain, leaves in the wind or stars in the firmament. Or you might follow the subject with the camera and blur the background – a galloping horse, hunting cheetah or racing car.

Use differential focusing

This will separate the subject from the background, it works especially well in portraits.

 

Composition

Use focus to emphasize the subject of the picture.

Narrow the depth of field

Use gridlines to balance your shot

One of the easiest ways to improve your mobile photos is to turn on the camera’s gridlines. That superimposes a series of lines on the screen of your camera that are based on the “rule of thirds”. Then ask
What are the points of interest in this shot? Where am I intentionally placing them?

Try using the rule of thirds

This is an artistic composition principle that says an image should be broken down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so you have nine parts in total. According to this theory, if you place points of interest in these intersections or along the lines, your photo will be more balanced, level, and allow viewers to interact with it more naturally.

Embrace negative space.

“Negative space” simply refers to the areas around and between the subjects of an image –and it can take a photo from “good” to “great.”
When you include a lot of empty space in a photo, your subject will stand out more and evoke a stronger reaction from your viewer. And what does negative space looks like? It’s often a large expanse of open sky, water, an empty field, or a large wall, as in the examples below

Use leading lines.

In some photos, there’s a line that draws the viewer’s eye toward a certain part of the frame. Those are called leading lines. They can be straight or circular/curved such as staircases, building facades, train tracks, roads, or even a path through the woods. Leading lines are great for creating a sense of depth in an image, and can make your photo look purposefully designed

Play with reflections.

Reflections usually make pictures better, they can offer a sort of semi-symmetry and hint at a repeating pattern. Both symmetry and patterns can enhance pictures.

Look for symmetry.

Pictures that contain symmetry can be very pleasing to the eye — it’s also one of the simplest and most compelling ways to compose a photo.

Keep an eye out for repetitive patterns.

Repetitive patterns appear whenever strong graphic elements are repeated over and over again, like lines, geometric shapes, forms, and colours. Patterns can make a strong visual impact.

Capture small details.

We don’t get to see the form of a small thing, the pattern or texture on a surface. But you photograph them. Most camera’s have a ‘macro’ or close-up mode, it’s well worth giving it a try.

Create abstracts.

Abstract compositions can be found all around us. Shapes, patterns, textures and forms bounded by the frame of a photograph might be intriguing, compulsive or even revelatory.

Be unconventional.

Get low, get high up, put something in the frame, or in front of the lens. Just don’t do the obvious.

Consider the whole frame

Just before you press the shutter release button to take the picture, look all around the frame for anything that shouldn’t be there or could be in a better place. Perhaps taking a step one way or another or pausing for a moment might correct the fault.