Eight Ways to Awesome Photos

Blurry Shot

One of the worst moments in photography is when you get things back on the computer from a shoot to see that dreaded blur instead of an awesome photo (or awesome photos)!  If only you had been able to stabilize the camera more.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been confidant enough in my own abilities to think “I can hand hold that shot”.

Blurry Shot

The truth of the matter is, most of us can’t!  So, avoid the blur whenever possible When trying to capture images where light is low, a sense of movement is desired, or any other scenario where shutter speeds drop perilously low, getting that camera stable is critical!  Here are eight ways to make that happen:

1.  Use a Tripod – Shots taken with tripods are inherently more stable than their handheld counterparts.  Nothing stabilizes things like an inanimate object!

2.  Use a Monopod – With the tripod police out in force more and more, they are being allowed less and less in a number of areas.  If a tripod isn’t permitted, a monopod may be an alternative worth considering.

3.  Use Your Surroundings – Okay, so the tripod wasn’t allowed, the monopod you forgot, but there’s still a chance to catch that shot.  The answer lies in using your surroundings.  Brace the camera against a tree, a fencepost, a car, or whatever is available.  They key is to make your camera stationary.

4.  Bump the ISO – As much as I try to avoid increasing ISO, the newer cameras available do a great job of smoothing, and even then, software post production options are also pretty advanced at cleanup afterward.  So, if you have to, go ahead and bump the ISO settings to shoot fast and still retain exposure accuracy.

Fireworks

5. Hold that Camera – I know some shooters who claim to be able to hand hold as slow as 1/30th of a second, and one of their “secrets” is a secure grip on the camera.  Make sure you’re holding your camera right and not flapping your arms out beside you, all fingers around the edges (like a camera phone), and you can get better shots.

6.  Shoot between Breaths – Yup, you can shoot between breaths.  It’s key to remember not to hold your breath, but rather inhale slowly, exhale slowly, and that momentary gap between breaths is a moment when your body rhythms are not moving at all, heartbeat included!

7.  Slide that Finger – No, not that one!  Your shutter finger is what I am talking about.  So many people tend to jab the shutter, but that pushes the camera and can introduce movement.  Make it a slow slide with increasing pressure, almost as if the shutter release is an afterthought.

8.  Watch Your Feet – Standing with your feet together like a ballerina is never a good idea when shooting.  Your center of gravity rises, and you are unstable.  When you are unstable, so is your camera.  The same holds in the opposite extreme, so keep your feet about shoulder width apart when shooting.

Pacific Sunset

If you like these tips, keep in mind, there’s 90 more tips just like these in my eBook Combo Kit where you get both 49 Photo Tips, Volumes I and II:

There are, of course, other tools and methods to help make your photos better, but these 8 ways to add stability are just a primer to get you on the right track to making the most of your time behind the lens!  Know of any other ways to help stabilize a shot?  Anything I missed or that particularly speaks to you and your own techniques?  Sound off in the comments or via email!

Three Photo Composition Tips

baby-2

If you really want to take great pictures, it’s like anything else. You need to practice, practice, and then practice some more. Someone somewhere said it takes 10,000 hours to become really proficient at anything. Whether that’s 10,000 hours of batting practice to become a good slugger, 10,000 hours of running to become a fast sprinter, or 10,000 hours of photographing various subjects to excel as a photographer, you need to practice. All that said,there are always photo composition tips that you can take into account when capturing images with your digital camera. Read more

Think Negative (space) not Positive

Negative Space

Negative space in a photograph can have a huge impact! Sounds odd doesn’t it?  Yet believe it or not, the use of something called negative space can be very powerful in photography.  But what is it?  The term is kind of hard to describe in words, but the best way I can think of to describe it is to say that the space that has nothing to compositionally define it relative to the rest of your image.  Alternatively, you could say that it has a lack of a subject or point of focus.  Things like skies are good examples of negative space.  It can bring a sense of scale in ways that are otherwise very difficult to attain.  I’ve shared a few shots of this here that serve as good examples of negative space, but using them to specifically address this concept of negative space directly is helpful.  Take a look at these shots again and think of them in terms of the negative space, and how it enhances composition.

Examples

Beach chairs with an Ocean View
Beach chairs with an Ocean View

In looking at this image of the beach chairs positioned to look out at the ocean. A couple questions regarding negative space come to mind.  First, what’s the subject of this image?  My answer when I took this was the chairs!  I liked how they were all positioned the one way, but I thought it was equally important to show what they were looking at – in this case, the negative space of the ocean beyond.  Giving some sense of space and scope here really helped define the image much better than just a row of chairs with no sense of why they are positioned like that.

What are your thoughts on this image?  What is the subject – the chairs or the ocean?  Does the image work better with the ocean there?

The Orange Frame
The Orange Frame

Portrait style images with negative space are of value not only for their inherent visual command, but also as marketable images.  Magazines love images with negative space in them that are compelling – primarily because there is a lot of real estate available to place text copy (look at magazine cover photos – they almost always have a substantial amount of negative space!).

Beach Umbrellas dotting an empty beach
Beach Umbrellas dotting an empty beach

In this final image, there is negative space both above and below the subject (the beach umbrellas).  Both the skies (and ocean) above, and the sandy beach beneath really make your eyes gravitate toward the umbrellas and the leading lines into the horizon!  What do you think of the use of negative space here?  Does it work for you or do you wish there was more substance to the photograph?

See how using this technique can actually work to your advantage?  Like the examples show, skies work well in this regard, but you could use this approach to better accent a photo or design.

Anyway, that’s the photo tip and post for today.  Anyone have any thoughts?  Got examples you can share?  Feel free to sound off with your thoughts, tips, ideas, suggestions in the comments.

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