Taking good Photographs in simple terms
Getting sharp images:
For best results use a sturdy tripod and lock-up your mirror prior to clicking the shutter with a remote release (or use the shutter release timer).
If you need to hand hold, ensure that the shutter speed is fast enough; this will depend on your personal ability to hold the camera steady, the focal length of the lens and whether or not the lens / camera has image stability built in.
Choose an appropriate aperture for the depth of field that you require; a small aperture (high f number) for wide depth of field (typical for landscapes) or a large aperture (small f number) for shallow depth of field (typical for portraiture). To maximise the depth of field achieved for a given aperture when taking landscape photos, focus approximately one third of the way into the scene.
Buy the best quality lenses that you can afford. A consumer camera body with a high quality lens will obtain better quality images than a pro camera body with a consumer spec kit lens; spend wisely!
There are various ‘rules’ for helping with composition, the most commonly used being the rule of thirds; divide the scene through your lens into three both vertically and horizontally giving four points of intersection; place the most important element on one of these intersection points.
Remember that rules are there to be broken and achieving good balance in an image can be more important than force fitting some arbitrary rules!
Crop your image to a shape that gives most impact; letter box, square etc.
Remember it is light that you are recording on the sensor / film and digital cameras and film have a limit to the range from darkest to brightest that they can record; exceed this and you will have either blocked up shadows or burned out highlights.
Landscape photographers use graduated Neutral Density filters to darken the sky so that all tones can be captured.
The light at and around sun rise and sun set is much warmer than at mid day and shadows are much longer resulting in much more pleasing images, particularly for landscape photography. That said, there are times when the soft light pre-dawn, post sunrise, or on an overcast or misty day is the perfect light for the subject. For each subject consider what will work best and the angle that you will make the image; also consider B&W / mono as days with dull colour can make great B&W images.
There is nothing new about post processing, it is not something that was invented for digital photography; it is much cleaner digitally, and you have the ability to click ‘undo’ but the concept of manipulating imagery goes back a long way with all serious darkroom printers at least doing a little dodging and burning to bring out the best in their prints.
Get as much right in camera and try not to over-do the processing; a good image can be ruined whilst a poor image cannot be turned into a good image!
Improving your skills:
One great way of improving your skills is to join a local camera club where you will learn from the experienced members.
Alternatively (or in addition to joining a camera club), enrol onto a photography course.
Most importantly, get out with your camera and practice!
To see examples of putting the above into practice feel free to take a tour of my web site, link below:
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