Taking great pictures is really easy if you follow these 10 tricks to take better photos. Taking great pictures is very much a skill but 1/2 the battle is in avoiding mistakes. These 10 tricks will avoid common mistakes and put you in a position to capture the photo you want just when you need to.
Most people usually carry around a smart phone with a built in camera. I get it, taking a picture with your phone is easy and convenient. Plus, you have it with you all the time. Most of these tricks can be applied to a large, complicated DSLR or a simple iPhone.
Most great pictures always tell a great story. Telling that story can be a lot of fun if you know the language of photography. There is lighting, composition, perspective, as well as all the technical things that make a picture. Without a great story, the details don’t matter. Focus on the story, use the tricks to improve your shot, and you will end up with the perfect photograph.
Carry Your Camera Everywhere
Carrying your DSLR camera all around with you is a total pain. You have the camera, lens, flashes, tripod, and all the other accessories. Then when you need to take a picture, you need to get it out, setup, and then configure the camera.
Most people will probably say it is not worth the effort to go through all this, plus carrying your stuff around on the chance you may want to snap a picture.
In the old days, life was much simpler. All we had was a SLR and a 50 mm lens. It was always around our neck and taking a picture just required a little composition and manually focusing.
What happened to those days and who made you think you need all those things to take a great photo? Marketing! All the photography magazines are selling you more and more gear making you think you need it all to take great pictures. You don’t. All you need is your camera in hand ready to shoot.
I also recommend protecting your camera with a small, lightweight case or some body armor. People today will not carry their camera around their neck all the time but you can have it in a holster case or bag, and it will always be ready.
Perspective is Key
One easy way to improve your photos is to take the picture from a different perspective from a persons normal view. If you are taking a picture of another person, change your angle to make it more interesting and flattering. Same with other objects.
If you are taking landscape shots, look for an angle that creates interesting focus points, eliminates background clutter, and can make your subject pop with different focus points.
Changing your perspective can also be done by using a selfie stick with an iphone, or a tripod.
Have fun, play with your options and see what you can come up with. Isn’t this why we all got into photography anyway?
Composing your picture is just making sure the stuff in the frame tells the story you are looking to tell. One way you can play with your composition by using the rule of thirds.
Imagine that your image is divided into 9 equal segments by 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines. The rule of thirds says that you should position the most important elements in your scene along these lines, or at the points where they intersect.
This can also be done in post production if you take a wider shot. This is a secret most professionals do. They don’t zoom in like most new photographers but rather shoot wide, then crop it in post production. If you zoom first, you lose the ability to make these composition adjustments later.
Make everything in your frame be part of your story and watch your pictures come alive.
Proper editing could make a huge difference in your photos if you are willing to take the time to do it right. The first step in proper editing is using a good software package. I use PhotoScape X which is free and available on both Windows and Mac.
With PhotoScape X, I can fix color problems, apply filters, correct lighting and white balance, and lots of other things. I can also edit the picture and add or remote stuff which is a very powerful feature often found in very expensive packages.
Most people look to editing software to correct errors in a picture. Most professional photographers look to post editing to improve the picture. Play would with some of the features of PhotoScape X and let your creative side out for a spin.
Quality Gear, Great Price
It is great to buy and use expensive gear, but I prefer to save some money and buy gear that has similar features at a greatly reduced price. For example, I love the Yongnuo flashes, triggers, and lens. I also buy Neewer and other similar stuff.
These items usually match the specs of the very expensive gear but at a fraction of the cost. I have bought and used off brand flashes, triggers, lens and countless accessories, and feel these come close to high end quality products but at well below high end prices.
When buying off brand gear, make sure the company is trust worthy and the specs are as good as possible. When I buy a lens, I get as low an aperture as I can afford. If I am buying a flash, I get the highest guide number. There are often less truthful specs listed in the marketing material so I trust independent reviews before making a purchase. I also make sure I can easily return something which is why I do a lot of my shopping on Amazon.
Don’t be afraid to try an off brand company if you are interested in playing with some new gear. I think its well worth the costs.
Learn Your Gear
There is nothing worse then having a $1,000 camera and keeping it in auto mode using the built in flash. Take the time and learn all the features and abilities of your camera and you will see a dramatic improvement in your pictures.
Even if you are just using your iPhone, you can download a pretty good camera app and improve your pictures greatly just by learning the app.
This extends to your lens, flashes, triggers, and all your accessories. You should know how to use all the gear you are carrying (including your editing software) if you want to make your photographs the best they can be.
After reading the manual, you need to go out and play with these features. I find this to be the most fun part of having the gear. When I bought my Off brand HD filters, I ran off to the beach to capture the blur of the ocean waves at sunrise. I still love looking at those “test” shots.
Interesting Off Center Focal Point
One of the ways you tell a story with your picture is deciding what you will have in focus and what you will have out of focus. For example, you may have a subject and you want the background out of focus so more attention is placed on the main subject.
This is possible and easy once you learn how to use your gear. Most cameras and apps allow you to choose your focal point. If you can combine that with a very small aperture, you can have your subject in focus and everything around them blurry.
Also remember your focus point doesn’t (and often shouldn’t be) in the center of the frame. Experiment with having a off center focal point and your photo will automatically be more interesting.
This means you will need to adjust your cameras automatic setting for finding the item in the picture to focus on. Most cameras assume you want your center frame to be the main focus point but in my pictures, I rarely do.
Avoid Background Clutter
There is nothing worse then a great picture with a lot of distractions in the background. Sometimes you can avoid this when taking the picture and sometimes you can’t. If you can change your perspective and avoid the background distractions, great. If not, you can take them out in post production editing.
PhotoScape X can easily remove background items from the photo. I was taking a picture of a sunrise the other day and I had lots of joggers and other early risers in the shot. I moved as much as I could to avoid the problems but I couldn’t get rid of them all. But with a little editing, the background was cleaned and the pictures look great.
Pictures are just the capturing of light reflecting off stuff. Without proper lighting, your pictures will look terrible. I always prefer to have natural light whenever possible but often I need to create light to make the shot work right.
I also love taking low light pictures but this is only possible with very high end, expensive lens. The lower the aperture, the faster it is, and the lower light the lens can work in.
Without super fast lens, then we need to rely on speedlites and reflectors. It is really easy to also use windows, flashes with remote triggers, and reflectors to get the light right from the start. It is possible to fix some of this in post production but adding light afterwards will never look as good as having it in the original.
Manual Mode is Best
I hate to admit this, but my cameras are in automatic mode when in the bag all the time. Every time I put my camera away, I always reset the camera’s settings to standard and set the mode to automatic. This means if I have just a few seconds to capture an image, the camera will be ready.
When I do have time to adjust the camera for my environment, then it is always in manual mode. My flashes are in i-TTL mode 99% of the time and I rely on my flashes to adjust if my manual mode settings aren’t just right. Using manual mode allows me to make those critical adjustments that will make great improvements in the creativity of the shot.
Taking great pictures isn’t hard if you can follow these 10 easy tricks to take better photos.
Practice until these become habits and you will start doing them without thinking. This is when you can focus more on the moment and less on the technical aspect of the camera. This is when your creativity really takes off and so will your results.
One of the hardest part of writing this article was limiting my list to just 10. I could think of many more tricks photographers do every day to take great pictures. If you have some favorites, please add them to the comment section below and share your tricks with our readers.
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