How to Take Great Pictures
Simple Guidelines by Anthony Stevens
I like to take pictures. I have taken a lot of them over the years. People tell me I have a ‘good eye’ or ‘a gift for photography’ but I’ll share a little secret with you. A long time ago, I read a series of books on photography and practiced a lot.
Now if that is the path you want to take to improve your camera skills, then I highly recommend any of John Hedgecoe’s fine books. They are available through Amazon or in any large bookstore.
If you want the quick and simple tricks, then continue reading this page.
Selecting a Camera
If you’re reading this, then you have access to a computer. If you have your own computer, then you need a digital camera. If you still have an old film camera, box it up and put it on the shelf and stop wasting money on film.
First off, you do not need an expensive camera to take great pictures. I know the fancy magazines and infomercials want you to spend multiple hundreds of dollars so you can catch the ‘perfect shot’ but it really isn’t necessary. In my not-so-humble-opinion, a decent camera can be had for around a hundred dollars. I’ve taken a lot of good family snapshots with digital cameras that cost less than eighty bucks.
Do not run out to the store and purchase the first thing that looks nice. Take a little while to do your homework. I recommend reading over this webpage:
Pay attention to the pros and cons list of the cameras you’re considering.
Take Lots of Pictures
Photography is just like any other occupation. The more you do it, the better you will become. The great thing about digital photography is that for me at least, it has brought the fun back into the game. It costs almost nothing to take two hundred pictures over a weekend.
Get in the habit of taking several shots of the same scene. If it is a family gathering and the whole tribe is lined up, take one shot from a couple of feet off-center, from the center and a third shot from a couple of feet on the other side. Once you get a chance to sit down at your computer and analyze the pictures, you will quickly realize that one of the shots is much better than the others. This is true of scenery, family gatherings, sporting events, etc.
One of my cameras is an 8Mb model. That means it is capable of capturing an image that is eight megabyte in size. Without getting into technical details, take my word that the average image is a bit less than four megabytes. That means that each two gigabyte SD card I put in it can hold more than four hundred images. I usually keep one card in the camera and a spare. I also have a spare battery that I take with me on road trips.
What all this means is that the only thing that keeps me from getting a good shot is the time it takes me to turn the camera on, point it and press the button. Don’t be afraid to take a lot of pictures.
Get it All
How many times have you seen a family shot were people had foreheads, arms and legs cutoff?
The problem is that most people lock onto one item, like someone’s face, and don’t bother to make sure all the rest of them are in the frame.
The cure is simple. The next time you’re looking at that little screen or through the viewfinder, take just a second to look all around the edge of the frame. Ignore the center. You know that is there already. Instead, pay attention to the edges of the picture.
Later on, during the editing process, it is very easy to crop away stuff you don’t want in the picture, but you can never add things to the edges.
Framing the Important Stuff
Many times, the most important item in a picture is not in the center. Your eyes tend to wander around the edges of any image. That is why when you take a picture, you need to make sure everything is inside the frame.
Here’s an ‘artistic’ trick that you might try.
Image a tic-tac-toe board on the frame. There are two vertical lines and two horizontal ones. When you look at the frame, instead of putting your primary object in the center of the frame, put it where one of the lines cross. If there are two major items, like a race car and the driver, move around so that the center of the driver is on one cross hair and the car is centered on the other cross-hair.
Editing and Printing
LCD screen or viewfinder?
Flash or Not?