If you have been taking pictures for some time, it is easy to forget how we all started into photography, a complete noob (newbie) who perhaps did not even know what the various knobs and buttons were on our spanking new camera and always asking for a more knowledgeable friend to “reset everything for me because I fooled around in the Menu and messed it all up.”
We look back to those days and shake our head. Then, someone at a dinner party table asks the inevitable question, “What are the 5 top tips to become a better photographer?” And you start with exposure, metering, ISO, … and find that you have totally lost your audience. They smile politely and steal furtive glances at one another to see if anyone else is understanding your technical mumbo jumbo.
You sit back, collect your thoughts, seize up your audience and start all over again:
- Squeeze the shutter release button gently.
Most blurred photos result from the person taking the picture pressing too hard on the shutter release button and moving the camera in the process.
Instead, be gentle on the trigger and hold the camera steady for a second longer after you have taken the picture.
- Pre-focus your picture.
When you press the shutter release button to take a picture, the camera has to do 2 things: 1) determine the exposure and 2) focus on the subject. The first task is done instantaneously but the second task may sometimes take a second or two, depending on the light level and how sophisticated the auto focus mechanism is on your camera.
To pre-focus, simply point to your subject and press the shutter release button only half-way. You may need to practice to get used to this technique but what it does is lock focus. Then, keeping your finger at the half-press position, compose and wait for the right time to take your shot. When you do press the shutter release button fully, the camera won’t need to spend time focusing anymore (you pre-focused, remember) and can take the picture right away and you will not miss the action.
- Make sure the sun is behind you.
This one is easy to understand.
You want the light to fall on your subject’s face. If the sun is behind your subject, the face will be dark.
- Make sure there’s nothing growing out of your subject’s head.
This is a mistake beginners often make and all it requires is to look in the LCD and see if there is any pole, tree or other projection that looks like it is growing out of your subject’s head.
If yes, move your subject a bit to the right or left, or you can move to change the angle.
- Move in close.
It’s amazing how often we try to include everything in the shot. If you are taking a portrait, move in close and get only the face or even half a face for a dramatic picture.
If you are taking a landscape, include a foreground object up close (but still in focus) to add depth to your picture. By moving in close, you isolate your subject from its surroundings, especially if the latter is distracting.
There you have it: 5 top tips that will make your friend and neighbor who knows nothing about photography (and does not intend to delve too deeply into the User’s Manual) a better photographer.