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Digital PhotographyTutorial on Basic Photography Tips/ Skills
How to hold a camera
How to hold a cameraUse your right hand to grip the right hand end of the camera. Your forefinger should sit lightly above the shutter release, your other three fingers curling around the front of the camera. Your right thumb grips onto the back of the camera. Most cameras these days have some sort of grip and even impressions for where fingers should go so this should feel natural. Use a strong grip with your right hand but dont grip it so tightly that you end up shaking the camera.
How to hold a cameraThe positioning of your left hand will depend upon your camera but in in general it should support the weight of the camera and will either sit underneath the camera.
How to hold a cameraIf youre shooting using the view finder to line up your shot youll have the camera nice and close into your body which will add extra stability but if youre using the LCD make sure you dont hold your camera too far away from you. Tuck your elbows into your sides and lean the camera out a little from your face (around 30cm). Alternatively use the viewfinder if its not too small or difficult to see through (a problem on many point and shoots these days).
How to hold a cameraAdd extra stability by leaning against a solid object like a wall or a tree or by sitting or kneeling down. If you have to stand and dont have anything to lean on for extra support put your feet shoulder width apart to give yourself a steady stance. The stiller you can keep your body the stiller the camera will be.
Digital Camera Modes
Automatic ModeAuto mode tells your camera to use its best judgment to select shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, focus and flash to take the best shot that it can. This mode will give you nice results in many shooting conditions, however you need to keep in mind that youre not telling your camera any extra information about the type of shot youre taking so it will be guessing as to what you want. As a result some of the following modes might be more appropriate to select as they give your camera a few more hints.
Portrait ModeWhen you switch to portrait mode your camera will automatically select a large aperture (small number) which helps to keep your background out of focus Portrait mode works best when youre photographing a single subject so get in close enough to your subject. Also if youre shooting into the sun you might want to trigger your flash to add a little light onto their face.
Macro ModeMacro mode lets you move your closer into your subject to take a close up picture. Its great for shooting flowers, insects or other small objects.
Landscape ModeThis mode sets the camera up with a small aperture (large number) to make sure as much of the scene youre photographing will be in focus as possible (ie it give you a large depth of field). Its therefore ideal for capturing shots of wide scenes, particularly those with points of interest at different distances from the camera.
Sports ModeIt is ideal for photographing any moving objects including people playing sports, pets, cars, wildlife etc.Sports mode attempts to freeze the action by increasing the shutter speed.
Night ModeNight mode (a technique also called slow shutter sync) is for shooting in low light situations and sets your camera to use a longer shutter speed to help capture details of the background but it also fires off a flash to illuminate the foreground (and subject). If you use this mode for a serious or well balanced shot you should use a tripod or your background will be blurred.
Movie ModeThis mode extends your digital camera from just capturing still images to capturing moving ones. Most new digital cameras these days come with a movie mode that records both video but also sound. The quality is generally not up to video camera standards but its a handy mode to have when you come across that perfect subject that just cant be captured with a still image. Keep in mind that moving images take up significantly more space on your memory storage than still images.
Rule of Thirds
Rule of ThirdsThe Rule of Thirds one of the first things that budding digital photographers learn about in classes on photography and rightly so as it is the basis for well balanced and interesting shots.
Rule of ThirdsThe basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts. As follows.
Rule of ThirdsAs youre taking an image you would have done this in your mind through your viewfinder or in the LCD display that you use to frame your shot.With this grid in mind the rule of thirds now identifies four important parts of the image that you should consider placing points of interest in as you frame your image.It also gives you four lines that are also useful positions for elements in your photo.
Rule of ThirdsThe theory is that if you place points of interest in the intersections or along the lines that your photo becomes more balanced and will enable a viewer of the image to interact with it more naturally. Studies have shown that when viewing images that peoples eyes usually go to one of the intersection points most naturally rather than the center of the shot using the rule of thirds works with this natural way of viewing an image rather than working against it.
Bees eye becomes the point of focus
Rule of ThirdsThe head of the subject (the man) was placed on one of the intersecting points especially his eyes which are a natural point of focus for a portrait. His tie and flower also take up a secondary point of interest.
Give Your Subject Space to Look Into
Give Your Subject Space to Look IntoAs a rule (and we all know that they are made to be broken) if the person (and it works with animals too) you are photographing is looking in one direction or even if their head is pointing in that direction it is best to place them on the opposite side of the frame.
Give Your Subject Space to Look IntoYoull see it best illustrated in the images on this page in each case the person is not being photographed head on but have their head pointing either to the left or the right. As a result the photographer has given them some space on the side that they are pointing/looking.
How to Take Good Group Photos
1. Preparescope out the location of your shot before hand think ahead about how you will pose people and frame your shot one of the groups head hiding behind another person make sure everyone you want in the shot knows you want them a few minutes ahead of time make sure your camera is on and has charged batteries
2. LocationThe place that you have your group stand is important to group shots for a number of reasons. For starters it can give the photo context for example a shot of a sporting team on their playing field means more than a shot of them in front of a brick wall. The other reason that choosing locations carefully is important is that it can have distractions in it.
3. Take Multiple Shotstake multiple photos quicklyswitch my camera into continuous shooting mode when taking group shots and shoot in short bursts of shots.
3. Take Multiple Shotsshoot some frames off before everyone is ready sometimes the organization of a group shot can be quite comical with people tell each other where to go and jostling for position. Also mix up the framing of your shots a little if you have a zoom lens by taking some shots that are at a wide focal length and some that are more tightly framed.
4. Get in CloseTry to get as close as you can to the group youre photographing The closer you can get the more detail youll have in their faces something that really lifts a shot a lot.
4. Get in CloseIf your group is a smaller one get right in close to them and take some head and shoulder shots. One effective technique for this is to get your small group to all lean their heads in close to enable you to get in even closer. Another way to get in closer is to move people out of a one line formation and stagger them but putting some people in front and behind.
5. Pose the groupIf the event is centered around one or two people (like a wedding or a birthday) make them the central focal point by putting them right in the middle of the group (you can add variation to your shots by taking some of everyone looking at the camera and then everyone looking at the person/couple). For formal group photos put taller members in the group not only towards the back of the group but centered with shorter people on the edges of the group.
5. Pose the groupTry not to make the group too deep (ie keep the distance between the front line of people and the back line as small as you can). This will help to keep everyone in focus. If the group is deep use a narrower aperture. Tell everyone to raise their chins a little theyll thank you later when they see the shot without any double chins!
6. Timing Your Shoot WellPick the moment for your shot carefully. Try to choose a time that works with what is happening at the gathering that youre at. Also towards the start of events can be a good time as everyone is all together, they all look their best.
7. Think about Light you need to have sufficient light. The way you get this varies from situation to situation but consider using a flash if the group is small enough and you are close enough for it to take effect especially if the main source of light is coming from behind the group. If its a bright sunny day and the sun is low in the sky try not to position it directly behind you or youll end up with a collection of squinting faces in your shot.
8. Take ControlIt is important to keep talking to the group, let them know what you want them to do, motivate them to smile, tell them that they look great and communicate how much longer youll need them for. Also important is to give your subjects a reason to pose for the photograph.
8. Take ControlAnother very useful line to use with group is If you can see the camera it can see you. This one is key if you want to be able to see each persons face in the shot. If there are more photographers than just you then wait until others have finished their shots and then get the attention of the full group otherwise youll have everyone looking in different directions.
9. For large groupsLarge groups of people can be very difficult to photograph as even with staggering people and tiering to make the back people higher you can end up being a long way back to fit everyone in. One solution to this is to find a way to elevate yourself as the photographer. If Im photographing a wedding and the couple wants one big group shot Ill arrange for a ladder to be present (Ive even climbed up onto church roofs) to take a shot looking down on the group. In doing this you can fit a lot more people in and still remain quite close to the group (you end up with a shot of lots of faces in focus and less bodies). It also gives an interesting perspective to your shots especially if you have a nice wide focal length.
10. Use a Tripod Firstly a tripod communicates that youre serious about what youre doing and can help you get their attention Secondly it gives you as the photographer more freedom to be involved in the creation of the posing of your subjects. Set your camera up on your tripod so thats ready to take the shot in terms of framing, settings and focus and then it will be ready at an instant when you get the group looking just right to capture the moment.
11. SmileYes YOU should smile! Theres nothing worse than a grumpy stressed out photographer. Have fun and enjoy the process of getting your shots and youll find the group will too.
Common group photo mistakes and problems include: one or more subjects always seem to be looking away or in different directions (ie at different photographers) subjects blinking (theres always one) someone being missing from the photo different moods in the group (some smiling, some serious, some playing up to the camera etc) the group being too far away or not all fitting into the shot