Master basic photography information and you're set to take powerful photographs.
If you're anything like me, you're probably itching to ditch these digital photography free tutorials in favour of getting 'out there' with your camera. You can save yourself a lot of disappointment if you take the time to learn basic photography first.
Ask anyone what makes a good picture and you'll get a wide variety of opinions: 'a beatiful waterfall', or 'a breath-taking sunset'. But stunning photographs are much more than subject matter. It's important to understand the visual language of what makes a photograph successful. You can improve your photography right away if you learn a few basic rules.
My mission is to give you some basic rules that will help you improve your photography dramatically. One caveat however, sometimes rules are meant to be broken, as the old saying goes. Some of the most stunning pics work because they purposefully broke some of the basic rules of photography. In order to break the rules in a way that will enhance your pics, you first have to 'know' the rules and have a reason for wanting to break them. So let's get cracking.
The first and most important rule of photography is to simplify your photos. The more you simplify a photo, the better the eye is drawn to the subject in the photo.
Every time you raise a camera to your eye, you instinctively make decisions about what to include and what to exclude. All photographs need a focal point. Before you press the shutter, ask yourself: 'What is it about this particular subject/scene that is crying out to have its picture taken?' Then decide how you can isolate what is really beautiful and how you can eliminate the distracting elements.
There is one very simple, very effective way of simplifying, which brings me to the following tip: Get in close.
Get in close. No, closer. Even closer... Yip! You've got it! This is also called filling the frame. Even though getting as close as possible to your subject seems like an obvious thing to do, it's one of the most basic rules that beginner photographers forget.
When you don't get close enough to your subject, it's more than likely that your background will be overflowing with distracting elements, which makes it difficult to focus on what is really important. For example, it doesn't matter how beautiful the flower is that you're photographing, if there's a forgotten teacup in the background, the whole effect is down the drain.
Bottom line: Think about what it is you want to emphasize. Then just get closer and closer to your subject until there's nothing else in the viewfinder - and Presto!... You'll be pleasantly surprised.
The rule of thirds is one of the basic photographic techniques and one of the easiest to get right.
Imagine dividing the scene into three equal sections horizontally and vertically so you have a 3 X 3 grid. Try to place prominent parts of your image either on the intersections or on the grid lines. Some cameras have on-screen grids to help you compose shots using thirds by displaying horizontal and vertical lines on the display. The idea is to give pictures an asymmetry that is much more pleasing to the eye than putting your subject dead centre.
For example, in a landscape shot, place the horizon either a third of the way up from the bottom or one third of the way from the top. Likewise, objects (or figures) should ideally be placed one third of the way in from either the left or the right.
At the very least make sure that objects are not smackbang in the middle of your image.
It's always a good idea to look for elements in a scene that can be used as lines (especially converging lines) to move the eyes through the photograph. Paths, roads, fences, ripples on a beach, streams, railroad tracks, even shadows are great examples of lines that lead the eyes through the scene.
One great way to see the main shapes in your photographs is by squinting your eyes until the image gets blurry. This makes it easier to see lines and shapes created by light and shadow. Notice how shadows blend together in ways that aren't immediately obvious when you first look at a scene.
Remember, people don't just look at a single point in a picture. Their eyes move from one part to another, almost as if being on a journey. The more interesting the journey, the more striking the picture.
Add impact to your photographs by using natural frames, such as an overhanging branch or an archway. Natural frames are useful to cover up expanses of uninteresting sky and other elements that might otherwise detract from the main subject or composition.