My top 10 photography tips.
I wish when I started out somebody told me these 10 tips :-)
Now some of these tips might seem obvious but stay with me all is not always what it seems.
All too often we forget the tools that help us not alone capture the images we want.
It's so very important to also keep our equipment in its best working order so this is also included in my top 10 list of photography tips.
1.- Buy a tripod.
Now you might say I don't need one but a tripod has two functions for you.
Firstly yes it steadies your shot but it also gives you the ability to use both hands to control the camera and more importantly the possibility to just step back and look at the shot you took while comparing it to the view in front of you.
If you can stand there with two hands free it gives you a bit of a break and also the ability to completely concentrate on what your actually capturing.
All too often we get distracted by the process of taking an image. The technicalities get in the way and nudge the compositional aspects of photography out of the way.
It might seem like a pain carrying a tripod around with you but trust me you won't regret it.
Free your hands and also your mind.
Compose your shot lock your tripod and then worry about the light and how to capture it.
Give yourself a helping hand and buy a good tripod. It could become your best friend yet. My tripod carries all the little dents and scratches from our years of experiences together.
2.- Know your equipment.
Yes this is one of those obvious ones that few people focus on.
So photography is all about capturing the moment and if your fumbling around trying to change settings or find that right button well then chances are you have probably missed that fleeting moment.
Know your equipment and no it doesn't mean sitting down for 3 days reading that 2 tonne book that came with your camera.
My tip is to look up your camera model on youtube and select an instructional video from the list, they are generally short and to the point.
Repeat the process another day and before you know it, your a camera ninja.
Some of the presenters are even entertaining to watch, so give it a go and get yourself closer to capturing that moment.
3.- Go to beautiful places at the right time.
Yes that yet again might seem like a no brainer but it's a very common mistake.
Ok so the golden hours of sunrise and sunset are the obvious ones but also keep in mind when the busy times of the day are for tourists or cars.
Nothing worse then seeing a gorgeous landscape ruined by cars passing through it or that awkward tourist doing god only knows what right in the middle of your composition.
How will the change in seasons affect your image? Will the fading green and emerging brown from the leaves add that missing detail to your image?
If its a coastal location then check the tides and know when the water is right for that specific location. Some areas benefit from a high tide where as other do well at low tide. Generally it works best when the tide has started to come in as the sand is dry and so are the rocks.
4.- Keep your equipment at its best.
Most people skip this step as it doesn't appear to help you take photographs but this is about helping you take consistently good photographs.
Did you know Fungus or Mould are Lens killers?
They degrade the quality of your images, introduce imperfections and can be a real pain as well as being very expensive.
Buy little packets of silica gel to help keep your equipment moisture free. Yes we all know that electronics don't like moisture but what most people tend to forget is that glass really doesn't like it also.
So picture this you are out at the sea taking photos and your camera gets a tiny bit damp or alternatively you are out shooting in the cold and you bring your camera straight back into the house with you.
Transferring a camera from a cold environment to a warm one quickly will cause condensation to form and introduce the risk of moisture damage again. So leave the camera slowly heat up in the camera bag before taking it out.
Now in both of these situations you will get moisture forming around the lens which isn't the end of the world but if this moisture gets inside your lens it will develop into fungus and this will slowly kill your lens.
Silica gel patches in your camera bag (and a good wipe from a cloth if its sea spray) will help soak up the moisture or sea spray.
Letting your camera slowly aclimatise after coming in out of the cold in your camera bag, with gel patched inside will also prevent any fungus build up.
This may not improve your photography but it will certainly help it from degrading due to lens fungus or mould.
Putting used Silica gel packets in the oven at 150 degrees for 10 mins can also dry out the gel packets so you can use them again. Caution some of the packets materials can melt.
5.- Always take the shot.
Never go home wondering about an image, take the shot and go home with one. Take it at different exposure levels if your unsure.
Use your tripod and then take the shot, take the camera off the tripod and turn away from the view and look at the image on the back of the camera and really check that its what you wanted to capture.
All too often people convince themselves that what they are seeing with their eyes is what the camera is capturing, it's only when they get home and look at the image on their computer screen that they really see what was captured.
So separating your view from what you captured can really help. Again the advantage of the tripod is you can just pop the camera back on and take exactly the same shot again if you want to.
So if you ever find yourself in a car passing a beautiful view take my advice and pull in where it's safe and get out and take the shot.
It will eat you up inside for weeks afterwards if you don't.
6.- Spend your money on Glass.
Something I was told about 6 years ago by a very well known photographer and something I have passed onto all the clients on my workshops.
A good camera body will be a good investment for 3 years or so. Then it will slowly become old and out dated where as a lens will stay faithful and keep performing at its best for a very long time once you take care of it.
So for performance per pound go for glass. Always buy the best lens you can afford its something that will keep you happy for years to come.
Again on keeping your lens as fresh as possible use a screw on uv filter, they are cheap and are optically clear so they don't effect the image (they can help remove Haze from an image).
If they get scratched they are easy to replace and could save you hundreds on a lens repair.
7.- Try different angles.
Try taking shots from different angles.
Sometimes all it takes is changing your perspective to create something completely different.
It could be to hide a distracting object or in sharp contrast you can also make an item more dominant in your image by changing your position.
Don't forget to try different heights.
All too often we take images from a standing position. Try lowering your camera height to bring different elements into the shot.
For example a lower camera angle can help give the foreground more impact in the shot and offer a unique view.
Or for photographing kids go down to their level or below it. Your images will be utterly transformed by the change.
8.- Keep your creative side alive.
Push yourself to produce the shot.
There is always a shot to be captured it's just a matter of opening our eyes and having the vision to see it.
One bit of advice I gave a client sometime ago was to go to a very popular tourist site and watch photographers over an hour set up and take their shots.
At the end of the hour I told the client to go over and talk to the same photographers and ask them if she could see what they captured.
She did and the results were so very different.
It really brought home to her that we all see things differently and while you might arrive at a less than ideal location if you open your mind you will always find something to work with.
The more you do this the easier it will become to find the shot and keep your creative side working.
Creativity is like a muscle if you don't use it you loose it.
"Never replicate always innovate" are words to live by. Don't reproduce others work try and create your own.
Try something new and always keep learning.
9.- The exposure Triangle
Yes I said it the three words that frighten the life out of hobbyists.
Do yourself a favour and read up on it or again use the wonderful world of Youtube to learn more.
This is something I will comeback to on a separate blog as its just too much to cover here.
10.- Take the images for you.
A lot of modern lifes stresses and strains are carried on our shoulders but not only in work, we tend to carry them home with us.
Try to plant your feet in nature take an hour, just watch and be part of it. A few deep breaths a bit of calm space and watch the scene unfold.
Take some photographs but don't feverishly snap away like your camera is on speed. This tip is to take your time. One great shot is worth one million ok shots.
I see photographers taking so many photographs they are nearly shooting video. There is no skill in that if you take enough photographs then eventually you will capture the moment. That's not skill its just not missing anything.
The skill is seeing the moment before it even happens and capturing it in two or three shots.
Take your time and care for each photograph and if you do you will see it in the image and hopefully that's something you can hang in your office or at home with pride.
Let it be a visual reminder of the experience and help drift you back there that little bit every time you see it.
So focus on what you love and keep it close to you and it will always make you smile.
Anything that makes you smile on the inside is always going to be beautiful.
See you out there,