How to take a picture

These days everyone has a device, a mobile device, that takes photographs. None of this waiting to be developed! It’s all instant prints and Facebook shares…

My fiance (no accent as I have a half broken keyboard on my laptop) runs drum and bass events locally. Just a small affair, but a good night out! Anyway, a local lad from my mum’s church that has taken an interest in photography, and he offered to be “photographer” for the night. Well last night I spent 4 hours cropping out ceilings and deleting bad images. He is a beginner and the good photos are really good but it got me thinking, ‘Do people really know how to capture a good shot?’ and ‘Why is the ceiling a common part of photos?’

 ‘Do people really know how to capture a good shot?’ No, I don’t think they do. Many people assume they will take the best photos with a really expensive camera. Let me just point out I have a £100 Samsung 10 mega pixel camera (similar to the link, but not the same). It is cheap, it is small, it doesn’t have a long lens, I take great pictures.  

1) Know your equipment, whether you use a standard camera phone or fancy makes-a-cuppa camera with all these fancy buttons and gadgets, know what each item does, how it can help and when to use it! Remember, just because you know the button does, have you understood what each menu option does? There is always more than meets the eye when it comes to camera know-how. I’d like to make sure you know, I do not claim to be a photographer but I am definitely snap happy. 

2) Take advantage of the highest possible resolution. Take high quality photos at the highest resolution your device allows. It is more difficult to alter and crop images at a low resolution. Upgrade, if you can to a larger memory card. Use the ‘fine’ quality setting, if your camera has one, with a smaller resolution, if it is not possible for you to get a bigger memory card.

3) I find the Automatic Modes are best to start with. Most useful is “Program” or “P” mode on digital SLRs. I choose to ignore advice to  operate your camera manually; the advances in the last few decades include automatic focusing and metering. If your photos come out poorly focused or poorly exposed, then experiment with functions and features.

4)  Always have your camera to hand. I tend to use my phone camera more than my Samsung. Its 8 mega pixels and has captured my most precious moments. I find that since using a camera more I have start to see the world differently. When I see something pretty I dont think “oh that is nice” I think “WHERE IS MY CAMERA!” Because of this, i end taking more photographs. My dad always says “If you take lots of photos then you’re bound to have a few good ones, and as its digital there is nothing lost” Other people say “The more you take, the better a photographer you will become”. 

5) Get out more! Motivate yourself to witness more natural light. Take several pictures to get a feel for the lighting. Early evening or lae afternoon, especially when most people are watching television, or sleeping. Lighting is often dramatic to many people because they never get to see it! So if you can capture it people will want to see those snaps!

6) Beware of thumbs and caps. You might laugh, but lots of people are murders for making the simple mistake of obstructing the lens. 

7) Think about what you want to capture. Take a mental photo, use your mind before using your camera. 

8) Fill the space. Don’t be afraid of a bit of up-close-and-personal! However, if you are using a digital camera with plenty of mega pixels, you can edit at a later date.

9) Experiment with angles. Don’t just shoot your subject head on, crouch down or even be high and look down. Try and enhance your image by showing maximum colour and shadow. For long and taller use a lower angle. For smaller use a higher angle. Also, think outside the box, don’t just use top, mid and bottom angles, use an unusual one too!

10) Remember to focus. Once you have your mental image (Tip #7) Focus! Many photographs are ruined by being poorly focused. If you have the option, use the automatic focus on your camera. [Half press your shutter button]. If you want a really good close up shot use the ‘Macro’ mode. Don’t focus manually unless you really have to.

11) Got the shakes? Keep still! Blurry photos are a no no! If you prefer a full-sized camera with a zoom lens, finger on the shutter button and hold the camera body with the remainder of that hand. Steady the lens by holding underneath it. Elbows in and brace yourself. If there is an option for stabilisation features, take advantage!

12) If you really cannot take a decent image because you shake threw nerves or illness etc try using a tripod. Tripods are good for a number of different shots: Low light, want identical shots, panoramic photos & long exposure. However, if you’d rather not spend a bit of cash on a new toy [a tripod] then go ahead without one. A tripod is limiting to the way in which you can move to take different shots. If you end up where you could really use a tripod, but don’t have the option to use one then try a) turning on the stabilisation option. b) Use a wider lens or zoom out and get up close. c) When pressing the shutter button doing it slowly and gently you will find this to be more steady, just don’t stop until your photos is captured. d) Brace the camera and/or your arms on or against something.

13) Relax, everything will be alright. 

14) Don’t use the flash if you don’t need to. Avoid red eye, I understand this to be due to too much light reflection, so altering the lighting or use of flash can eradicate red eye

15) These days not all photos are developed, that is the joy of the digital age, if it is a bad shot you have not lost that photo. Not like before when you needed a film and had to wait while you photos were developed. Just make sure you look at your photos, after all its a memory captured. A moment in time you will not ever get back. Before you delete the bad bits, take a moment to think how you ended up with it, how would you fix the problem? More light? Less light? Different angle? You can learn so much from your bad photos that don’t make the album. 

16) You bought a new 16gb memory card, don’t waste your time, aim to fill it to the brim! Learn from your mistakes, practise makes perfect – so overly used, but so true. 

I hope this has helped. I compiled a few tips from various websites [in my own words] after reading up on the subject, many lists on other sites focus on the same things – so it must be a winning combination of tips.

Try it, lets see what you think. 



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