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Points to Consider

Friday, September 14th, 2007 by | Filed Under: Digital Photography

Points to Consider

Photography should be approached a bit like journalism. Before you embark on your pictorial expedition, you need to first ask yourself the four Ws and one H. You know, who, when, where, why and how. Once you know what you’re looking for, photography becomes much more organized, focused and fulfilling. So, if you’re the kind of person who likes to take your time with your photos, here are a few simple steps that can help you take your picture quality to the next level. It’s best to think of these easy tips before you frame your shots. Alright, let’s get started!

Tip 1: Concentrate on the Story

If composition, framing and exposure are essentials to photography, what’s even more essential before you click your first photograph is to first figure out the story behind the picture. What are you trying to convey through the picture? Is it purely to keep a record of a moment in time or are you trying to capture a candid emotion or action? Or, better yet, is it possibly a shot to give to someone? Is it part of a larger series of shots or will it be the only shot to commemorate the moment? Once you have the answers to these questions, the objective becomes clear and it will show through in your pictures.

Tip 2: Focus on the Main Subject

Before you go on a clicking spree, figure out whom or what should be the focal point in the picture. Is it the park bench or the couple seated on it? Is it the tree over them or the whole picture together? What part of the picture do you want the viewers to see first? Once you’ve identified the focal point, you can think about where to place it in the frame.

Tip 3: Look for Competing Focal Points

Once you’ve identified what you want your viewers to see and have placed it in the frame, scan for any competing focal points and ask yourself whether they add to or take away from the image. Secondary focal points can add depth to shots, but they can also be very distracting. You might need to reposition yourself or adjust your focal length and/or depth of field to accommodate or remove them from your shots. Also, if you still think your shot has more than one focal point, it might be worth taking two shots; one of each focal point to keep things simple.

Tip 4: Double Check the Background and Foreground

One of the most common places for distractions in digital photography is the background of your shots. Run your eyes over the space behind your subject to see what else is in the image (do the same for the foreground). Consider whether you want the background in focus or for it to be nice and blurry.

Tip 5: Cozy Up to Your Subject

Another common mistake in digital photography is taking shots where your subject is too small in the frame. Shots that fill the frame with your subject tend to be much more dynamic and it shows a lot more detail of your subject. To get this effect, you have the option of moving yourself closer, moving your subject closer or using a longer focal length to give the effect of closeness.

Tip 6: Verify the Light Source

Always give consideration to how your subject is lit. Without light, you’ll lose detail and clarity in your image and your camera will have to compensate by doing things like increasing the ISO and lengthening shutter speeds. All of that could lead to noisy and blurred images, which you do not want. Ask yourself questions like, “What is the main source of light, where is it coming from, is there enough light, do you need artificial light sources (flash, etc.), do you need to stabilize your camera on a tripod to stop the camera from shaking, due to low light?” And so on.

Tip 7: Get Your Framing Right

It’s amazing how many otherwise good photos are spoiled by framing that is slightly offline. Sloping horizons and slightly leaning people or buildings should always be in the back of your mind to check. Also, check if you are holding the camera correctly. Many people don’t and as a result, suffer from camera shake and framing mistakes.

Tip 8: Look for Unusual Angles

Put 10 digital camera owners in front of a scene and most of them will take exactly the same shot from the same position. Make your images stand out from the crowd by challenging yourself to not only take the standard shots that everyone else does, but to find creative and fresh angles and perspectives to shoot from.

Tip 9: Try Out Different Camera Postures

Many photographers get into the habit of always holding their camera the same way (either horizontally/landscape or vertically/portrait). While it’s okay to have a preference one way or the other, it’s also worth remembering that changing the format can drastically change the impact of your shots. Don’t forget, you can also hold your camera at an angle for a more effective result.

Tip 10: And Finally…

Of course, you probably won’t remember all these tips and you’re unlikely to go through each of them with every shot you take, but the next time you head out with your digital camera, concentrate on using at least one or two of them as you take your shots. As you do, you’ll find that they become more automatic and in time, you’ll naturally take shots that account for all of these tips.

Happy shooting!

~ Zahid H. Javali

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