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Ten Things To Teach Someone New To Photography - Know someone who's new to photography? Here are ten quick tips to help them get started.
1. Hold The Camera CorrectlyThis may seem like a really obvious thing to be telling someone but camera shake, which can occur when you're not holding the camera correctly, is a problem those who are new to photography face. In fact those who use mobile phones to take photos and hold one hand out while trying to press the shutter button will know all too well how it can result in blurry, wonky shots. To stop this, hold your camera / phone with two hands, quite close to your body, position your feet shoulder-width apart to give yourself a more stable base to shoot from.
If you're using the LCD to compose your shot don't stick your arms out too far in front of you and keep your arms/elbows tucked in when possible.
Before you take your shot, make sure your fingers aren't over the flash (if using it) or blocking the lens and keep a firm grip of your camera but don't squeeze too tightly as you can cause the camera to move, resulting in shake.
2. SupportHaving your arms tucked close to your sides and standing as still as possible will stop any blur caused by movement from spoiling your shot. Don't move your camera / phone away as soon as you've clicked your shutter button either as shutter lag can mean your camera's still processing the shot so you'll end up with a blurry photo of another part of the scene rather than the person or object you want a photo of.
Using a tripod will keep the camera still and help keep shake to a minimum and there are various light-weight, easy to use models, such as those available in Vanguard's Nivelo range, which are designed to be used with smaller cameras.
If you don't have a tripod, use a near-by solid object as a support or lean against a wall, tree or whatever object you can find that won't move.
3. BreathingBeing conscious of your breathing can further minimise shake. Some suggest taking a deep breath, holding it, taking your shot and exhaling while others prefer to do it the other way around. It's not something that's recommended for very long exposures though!
4. Hold the camera straightCheck the framing of your shot before hitting the shutter button as having a photo where it looks like everything's about to slide out of frame's easily done. Having said that, there are times when shooting on an angle can work really well but most of the time, you'll want your horizons to be straight. Using a tripod can help as some models have built in spirit levels which can tell you when the tripod's not straight. There are the occasions where the spirit level will tell you the shot's wonky but your eye will know different so trust your instincts on these occasions.
5. Shutter buttonDon't be too heavy-handed with the shutter button as this can cause the camera to move which can mean you end up with a slightly blurred shot.
Another important thing to learn about the shutter button is that it can be pressed half way to focus your shot. This can be used in all shooting situations but is particularly important for shots where your camera doesn't know what your main focus point is and as a result, you end up with blur in the wrong part of the shot. An example of this would be when you position your subject to the left or right of the shot, leaving more space towards the centre and opposite side. As your subject is off-centre your camera may not think they're what you want to focus on and as a result, they'll be blurry while you'll have a background that's nicely in focus. However, using focus lock (half pressing the shutter) will stop this from happening. Have a look at our previous tutorial for more tips on how to use this: Focus Lock.
6. Different ModesCamera modes are there to help you take the best possible images you can so learn what they're for and switch to them when needed. There's also aperture and shutter priority which give you more control over how your camera takes photos and are a great way to start your journey into the manual world. For more tips take a look at these tutorials:
7. BackgroundsCheck the background for unsightly items and objects sticking out of your subject's head. If you're not planning on throwing your background out of focus (some drive modes do this automatically) so it's blurred, make sure it's not too distracting or cluttered.
8. Fill the frameUse the optical zoom on your camera to bring your subject closer, filling the frame and creating more interest. A person can look dwarfed in a wide landscape or surrounded by buildings so use your zoom so you don't lose them in the frame. If you're using a camera phone which doesn't have an optical zoom use your feet to move you closer to your subject rather than using the digital zoom which can lower the quality of the shot.
9. Focus pointA shot needs a focal point otherwise your eyes will be left searching the image and they won't find any where to settle. You can have more than one focal point but make sure the point that's secondary doesn't fight your main focal point to be the centre of attention. Once you know what your main focal point is there are various compositional tricks you can perform which includes using various elements within the frame to draw the eye to one focus point, you can adjust your framing to make a more pleasing composition or zoom in to really focus on your subject, eliminating other items in the process.
10. Shoot different subjectsMany professional photographers focus on one type of photography but this isn't something you need to do straight away. Experiment with various subjects, learning how each needs to be approached differently in the process. It'll also give you chance to find out which you enjoy shooting the most so if you do want to start shooting more regularly, you'll have a particular subject you can work on perfecting.
Don't be afraid to take lots of shots either as getting out there and actually pressing the shutter button is the best way to learn. Do take the time to evaluate your work too so you know what needs to be improved and just as importantly, know what techniques work successfully. You can also ask other photographers, family members and friends for their feedback too as sometimes they'll see things you've missed. Finally, make sure you have fun and enjoy taking photos!
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