Saturday, July 15

I'm not a Professional...

I like to say,
"I'm not a professional, but I just love to take pictures!"
And that is very true. I have friends that take amazing pictures. Although I have incredible cameras (but only use the digital), I just don't have that "photographer's eye." I can't capture an image like professionals.

Now cameras are going digital and to this day (although I am a strong supporter of technology) I strongly believe that digitals cannot beat a good 35mm camera. They take wonderful pictures and I have quite a few that I have taken with my expensive, hardly used Nikon. Digitals are so much easier to use and this will sound a bit lazy, but I hate having to go through the trouble of paying money (extra for digital versions) and then waiting a day or an hour to develop 33mm film!

I use my digital a lot and if you are like me, and many other people, then you know a digital camera can sometimes take some horrible pictures; Fuzzy, noise infested, pictures that will ruin your day. Out of experience and classes in photography, I have come up with some tips for digital camera users that will improve your shots:

  • First, understand the focus system of your camera. Virtually every camera focuses when you press the shutter button halfway down. You'll usually hear a beep and see a green square on the preview screen. Then press the button the rest of the way down to take the picture. Ignoring this middle step usually results in a blurry shot. Simple Enough!
  • Stability is key. Any movement during a shot will almost always render that shot useless, which is why more and more cameras are adding "image stabilization" technology. Use a tripod, a sandbag, or just brace your arm against something solid. Use two hands to hold the camera. Those one-handed snapshots never turn out.
  • Backlighting is your enemy. So many people try to shoot a photo with a bright window in the background, then wonder why the shot didn't come out. It's no mystery: Bright light floods the lens, and your camera usually can't compensate for it. If you must shoot into the light, turn on the flash.
  • For my first shot in a new environment, I turn the flash OFF, whether I'm inside or outside. The camera responds much more quickly without the flash, and many cams perform well in low light. If the shot looks at all blurry on the preview, I turn the flash on and try again.
  • Remember, digital memory is cheap and easily erased. Experiment until you find a setting that works or a trick that eliminates the blur.
These tips should help you get better shots, at the very least avoid blurry or fuzzy images. Want to look at some examples of great pictures, look at my links on the right and look for "amazing pictures" and you will see some. However, to look at some average pictures that I have taken, then check out my online gallery which consist of some of my albums, using a normal 5.1MP digital camera. Some pictures date back to my first digital camera (1.0-3.0MPs)!


Jim said...

Not that I'm a pro either, but here are a few additional thoughts:

- If shooting digital, take lots of pictures. I usually end up deleting about half of all the pictures I take.

- Avoid always centering the subject matter. A good rule of thumb is to place the subject in the top, bottom, left, or right third of the shot. Centered subjects aren't always bad though.

- Learn to use Photoshop (PS Elements works just as well), or a similar photo editing program. Some say that taking the picture is only about half of the process, the rest is done on a computer.

- I've started using manual focus instead of auto focus. I don't know why, but I seem to trust my own eye instead of what the camera tells me.

- Don't be afraid to try something different. People look at me funny sometimes when I'm laying on the ground or standing on top of a picnic table but if that's what it takes to get a good shot, try it.

Digital cameras always add some amount of noise to a picture, so a film shot may turn out cleaner. However, I agree with you that paying and waiting to have film developed is too much of a pain. I've learned a lot just by surfing There are a lot of very talented folks there and it's a great source of inspiration and knowledge for me.

Wow, I didn't mean to write an entire post in the comment box, but it appears that I have. Have a good one.

JoCoWash said...

Excellent advice Jim!

I just started playing a little with Photoshop and wow, there is a lot to learn...

I love the fact that you mentioned manual focus. I should have also mentioned this, but I started using manual focus myself because I've noticed my pictures come out much better. Auto focus is good at times, but sometimes the camera automatically focuses on something you do not want to focus on, and causes (what a person may have thought to be a good picture) to come out very fuzzy.

Also, like Jim was saying, look around or the many other photography websites that are online and you'll find some inspiration. I've seen some amazing photos and that always just makes me want to pick up my Nikon and go at it. Then I let the film sit around the house until I develop them. haha

Take Care!