Knowing that is half the battle. More importantly, you may have a budget, so we can give you an idea of what is out there and how much of your hard-earnt cash you may need to part with to get what you need. There are a number of technical aspects that you will need to get to grips with if you want to improve as a photographer. Understanding and mastering the main techniques is not difficult or tedious.
We have a number of guides that take you through the basics and set you well on the way to becoming a more accomplished photographer, capable of handling any shooting situation or exposure challenge. Well, there is always something new to learn in the world of photography. We have a number of useful projects and tips we want to share with you that we hope will inspire you.
Or ocean life? Or skateboarders? Or bands? Anything that exists that we can see with our eyes you can photograph. You are free to select your choice of subject s. Photography can be a creative outlet, and you can define what you want it to be for yourself. The storytelling aspects of photography is what really gets us interested in actually taking pictures. Whether or not wedding photography specifically is your jam, telling a story can be found across many spectrums of photography.
Even within a single image, a whole lot can be conveyed. Are you interested in learning more about how you can effectively tell stories with photographs? If so, head on over to these websites and read these great articles about how you can use your photography to tell stories! White balance helps to dictate the temperature color of your images in camera.
While we used to use auto white balance, we have found that setting a white balance in camera ourselves makes editing our images much easier. Getting to know the Kelvin temperature scale helps to make this easier, as seen in the chart on the right! With auto white balance set, your image may come out looking great set at K. Your next shot with the auto white balance still set comes out with a K reading. When it comes time to edit your images, you apply a preset to the image with the K setting — and it works perfectly!
Next, you apply the same present to the image with the K reading — and now you have to make additional edits to alter the white balance. If you had chosen your white balance in camera, all of your images would carry a consistent color temperature. These tend to be large image files, but provide the maximum amount of data in your images — making for more flexibility in post production to make adjustments and sometimes even save photos that were poorly exposed.
Of course, you want to make sure you have your settings right, so taking some tests shot before really rolling into more free-form photography is a good idea — but on the fly you will learn to make changes by memory and by checking settings in the optical viewfinder. We will talk more about perspective in photography later in our list of tips, but before you even pick up the camera, you might need to do some fine tuning of your mindset and how you approach taking a picture first. Like most people — we fall prey to this once in a while ourselves.
We mention these things because they can be debilitating, and directly impact the images we are able to take. This tip should ultimately be a reminder to, when possible, remember to enjoy taking photographs — sometimes the process of creation is even better than the end result. This is especially true when just starting out! What is happening in the background of an image can dictate a lot about whether you have a good or bad photograph.
If your background is too busy or even lit differently, it can create a distraction that may be unwanted in your shot.
20 Essential Photography Tips for Beginners
Fortunately, even the most undesirable backgrounds can be turned into something beautiful if you use a wide aperture a low f-stop on your camera. While the currently existing art you can find in museums, in a simple Google search, or while browsing Instagram should not limit you — knowing what has made great compositions in the past can help you to emulate successful artists, and find your own style with time. In the landscape photography world, there are few other photographers as aesthetically desired or generally well known and regarded as Ansel Adams.
If you want a hard copy, the book Ansel Adams: Images is a great starting resource. We started this article talking about gear, because it is fundamentally the starting point for anyone participating in photography. As important as having the right gear is, no matter what you choose to use — understanding how to take photographs ultimately comes down to learning the ins-and-outs.
A great starting point to learn about photography is simply investigating the huge amounts of free content out there such as what you are looking at here on our website! Of course, most free resources have limits — and you might want to consider spending a little money on photography books and courses both online and in person to better help you get to a level of knowledge you are looking for. Humans of New York. Our first stop for photography courses online is at Digital Photography School. They have loads of free content, much driven by user submissions, and their courses are well received to help beginners and pros alike.
Photo Nuts and Shots Course. There are fundamentally 3 types of exposures:. This is where the highlight and shadows are well balanced, and very much an accurate representation of what is being seen in front of our faces. With underexposure, this can be utilized intentionally to often retain more image data in the shadows and highlights.
While most images are not attractive out of camera like this, with tweaking in Lightroom or some other image processing software , these can make for some really beautiful images. We actually use this type of exposure ourselves much of the time as it suits our editing style — which is heavy on shadows and contrast. Lastly, overexposure is another approach that increases highlights.
You do tend to lose some other elements in the image, particularly those that are quite bright — often this can result in simply blowing out the sky in outdoor photos. One of the most basic, but important, compositional tips we can give you is to use the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is the view of your image frame as being comprised of 9 parts — this can either be seen just in your mind, or in some camera LCD viewfinders there is a function available to have this grid display while you are taking a picture this is an available feature in the Canon 5D Mark IV we use. The theory is that if you place points of interest at the intersecting lines, you will be able to create a more interesting image.
In the vertical planes, you can either fill most of the space or leave some empty to create negative space. Shooting at eye level with your subject gives a simple look, while shooting from a lower angle closer to the ground can sometimes give a more dramatic, even imposing, look depending on what your subject is doing. A simple example of selective framing looks like this: you are taking portrait photographs on a crowded city street. In the hustle and bustle of people, your subject could easily get lost if someone walks in front of the camera, or is too close to the subject you are taking pictures of.
By getting closer to the subject, zooming in with a longer focal length, or simply cropping the image in post production — you can make them the target of the image, and eliminate the fact that other people were around at all. Had the same photo been taken with a 16mm lens, as an extreme example, the photo would have been entirely different. Ultimately, selective framing boils down to simply being intentional with what you are shooting. To shake up your photography, be sure to change up the orientation of your camera.
With this in mind, you may also want to consider the end goal of your photo as well. For example, we have specifically turned the camera one way or the other if we had a print in mind — as we did when photographing a waterfall not too long ago that we knew would suit a vertical print in our living room. Leading lines are naturally occurring lines in your environment that can help move your eye throughout a photo. Almost anything can be turned into a leading line.
Most frequently, we look for lines that really standout. When taking portraits, having a defined walking path can be an example of a simple leading line as it can regress nicely into the background, leading away from your subject. With landscape photography, a frequently loved example is taking a scenic shot in the middle of a road. The road itself is a line, and when paired with the defined yellow lines on many roads, these can also add an element.
Generally speaking, leading lines should lead somewhere interesting in your image. In our experience, this sometimes leads to a natural structure like a mountain, or you can simply add a point of interest like a person at the end of the line. Experimentation in this area is key! Like a teenager will tell their parents at some point, sometimes we all just need a little space. In photography, allowing for some breathing room in an image can keep things feeling comfortable and interesting.
More often, this space will just be filled with whatever is surrounding your subject or in the background. On the other end of things, sometimes the solution to getting a good image is to fill the frame entirely. We do this often with couples portraits when we want to get up close and personal, and showcase them in a more intimate fashion. A polarizer, like this cheap one found on Amazon , is attached to your lens.
It is used to control reflections, darken skies, and suppress glare from the sun and on watery surfaces. While this is the general use case, they are also great because you can create smoother looking water flows at any time of the day with a long exposure. Other elements may also play into it, such as the appearance of shadows or highlights in different areas of the frame — leading to changes in the perceived image depth.
With this in mind, a brief background to get the right depth of field would go something like this:. This is a longer focal length lens most suitable for portraits. Due to the longer focal length, content in the picture will already feel compressed together. Assuming your other settings are just right, you could expect a sharp image in all of the image. The right depth of field for your shooting situation is entirely up to you!
Getting the right shutter speed is a little more difficult than the right DOF. The reason for this is because, even if you understand that having a higher shutter speed is necessary in order to freeze movement in front of you, selecting what shutter speed is sufficient for different types of movement is more challenging. Instead, when searching the web for input on the best shutter speed to use for different scenarios, we get a bunch of opinions.
Before we put our two cents out there, keep in mind that shutter speed is measured by fractions of a second. On some cameras, you can even set up your shutter to release over the course of multiple seconds, even minutes! Additionally, one quick rule to live by: never use a shutter speed less than the focal length of the lens you are using , otherwise there will be unwanted movement in your frame. The exception to this is when using a tripod and a remote shutter release as these items help to counteract this.
Use slow shutter speeds to capture motion blur such as with dancing photos, astrophotography, and waterfall photography multiple second exposures. Before pressing the shutter and taking a photo, get your exposure right in camera. As we discussed earlier, how you decide to expose is ultimately up to you, but it is one of the hardest parts of photography. Once your settings are locked in, you can make better decisions about framing. When shooting portraits, place your focus on the eye closest to the camera. The reason for this is because the eyes are very emotive and should be the primary focus of a good portrait image.
Reflections are a powerful natural tool we photographers have at our disposal to warp perspective and convey an alternative reality if we want too…. Alternatively, reflections can just be used as a compositional tool to bring symmetrical balance to an image. The simplest types of reflections to look out for would be those of the environment on a lake or shots in a mirror. There are certainly other surfaces out there that reflect things as well, you just need to experiment and keep an open eye. During this shoot, she used a prism and light catchers to great effect to impact a portrait shoot that would otherwise be pretty standard.
These little accessories allow for you to influence your image in some very specific ways. Another great tool that we love to use is some simple copper piping , which can be used at Golden Hour while the sun is getting low on the horizon to create the Ring of Fire effect. This is especially true nowadays where everyone is taking pictures even if most of these are just iPhone selfies. To keep it short and sweet, light painting is made possible by the conjunction of long exposure photography techniques paired with a dark environment that you can illuminate with any light source such as sparklers, a flashlight, and so on.
There is virtually limitless potential, and all things you would photograph normally during the day can be enhanced with painted light techniques. One of our favorite framing devices is finding things to shoot through. When out wandering through the woods, this is often very easy to come by thanks to the abundance of foliage.
On lower trees, you can shoot through the leaves and limbs, while in other situations you might just want to pick up a fallen leaf and put it in front of your lens artistically to frame your subject. There really is no limitation to things you can use like this as a bit of foreground intrigue. Depending on your aperture, you can also get some really interesting blurring effects. Most of the time, the results are stunning and some of our favorite images. The look and feel of them as portraits is virtually impossible to replicate because of how authentic the interaction is.
The more we look through some of the previous photos we have taken, the more we really come to love shots taken with our wide angle lenses 16mm — 35mm focal range. As anyone who has used a wide angle lens can attest, these lenses are well known to leave vignetting around the edges to varying degrees dependent on the manufacturer, lens quality, etc.
While some may argue this detracts from images, we would suggest you step into this vignetting and let it help guide your compositions. The reason for this is because this form of vignetting can draw your eyes towards the center of the frame quite easily. In some of our favorite shots, the vignetting help to really set a mood, and gives what can only be described as a film-look to an image.
This is especially powerful when taking portraits with wide angle lenses, something that is often frowned upon too as the common advice is to use longer focal lengths for portraits. The best photographers have a keen eye for framing devices, and using things as they naturally occur where they are photographing to their advantage. One simple way to approach this in your photography is to look for distinct shapes that draw the eye, and thus your attention. A recent example where we got really hooked on environmental shapes was while photographing a bride getting ready at her home. These types of photos can sometimes be difficult — or at least, one could say…uninspiring.
We had noticed some features of the home that formed leading lines and shapes around the bride while she was having her makeup put on — and sure enough some of these shots have ended up being some of our favorite wedding day prep photos. The difference between highlights and shadows is what is called contrast. Think about this as an example: you stumble into the woods with your model for the day.
There are lots of areas with streaking light, but one area in particular sticks out to you because it basically forms a little circle of light between a cluster of trees. This light stands out pretty significantly from the rest of the scene that is surrounding it in shadows. You set your model up in this space, and it ends up functioning like a spotlight on her. This is a really cool dynamic in your image, this harsh contrast between dark and light. For ourselves, flash so obviously comes in handy when working in dark spaces such as a reception hall to light the dance floor.
This is probably the most obvious application of flash in photography. When used correctly, flash can absolutely enhance your photography by being a useful tool to compliment your camera, your technical knowledge, and your composition skills. Whether with flash, natural light, or a combination of the two — utilizing different lighting patterns to get the desired effect you are after is critically important to your photography.
While these patterns are often discussed in the context of portrait photography, most can actually be applied to photography of any object in practice. Split Lighting — The light source is directly to one side of the subject resulting in one side of the face being illuminated, and the other being cast in shadow. Loop Lighting — The light source is degrees from the camera and slightly higher than eye level resulting in a small shadow of the subjects nose being cast on their cheeks.
Rembrandt Lighting — The light source should be to the side of the subject, with the subject faced slightly away from the light source, resulting in shadows from the nose being cast down on the cheek ending with a triangular lighting pattern on the cheeks. Butterfly Lighting — The light source is directly in front of the subject resulting in illumination of the whole subject, with shadows being cast around the edges such as under the jawline. All of these lighting effects can be achieved through natural means, or by supplementing the available light by using some photography tools such as flash or even a cheap reflector like this it can make a world of difference!
Posing is a topic of much passionate discussion among portrait photographers. Many books have been written on this topic, and more recently alternatives to posing have been circulating in a pretty significant way such as can be found in the Unposed Field Guide. Much of this approach is rooted in this prompting style by getting couples to do things together in ways to get natural responses and emotions.
When all else fails, we do get a little hands on from time to time. When working with regular people ie: not models , the right pose might not always come naturally even with instruction. Helping these people along to get the best side of them shown in front of the camera is what it is all about. The histogram is one of those things that most people just ignore because who likes graphs?
However, when in environments we are less comfortable with, it is a quick point of reference to help guide our exposures. If you have done any photo editing, these terms may be familiar to you as they are elements you can control when processing an image later. The main thing you will be looking for is to determine if there is any clipping in any of these areas in camera, which would be represented by a really high peak in one or more of these areas of the image.
One of the greatest things about having multiple lenses in your photography toolkit is that they give a lot of different opportunities for expression. The impact felt from an image taken with a 50mm probably the most common focal length for people to be using is very different than that of a wide angle 16mm.
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The focal length of your lens will directly impact what you are able to shoot, and how you go about framing your subject. Sometimes it is a great exercise to make yourself work with a single lens, as this can sometimes require out of the box thinking in order to get a good shot. As a quick reminder, these are affiliate links to Amazon, so you will be redirected there and if you make a purchase, we make a commission.
Having a wide angle lens capable of zooming to a focal length that is suitable for portraits is pretty much a dream come true. When deciding whether or not to purchase this lens ourselves, we were conflicted between this and a really wide angle exclusive lens.
Comparing costs, this one just ended up making sense, especially for our use as wedding photographers where 16mm may not always need to be put to use — but 35mm would function perfectly for portraits. This has turned out to be one of the staple lenses in our photo bag. It gets use consistently throughout the day, and takes some stellar pictures.
Playing with the distortion of the 16mm is really cool, and frankly a unique way to visualize what we are photographing. We purchased this lens vs. Buy on Amazon. Prior to getting the mm lens, this was our go too wide angle lens. We still use it regularly — and the reason for this is because the image quality from this thing is downright beautiful.
Yes, we do sometimes use the mm more these days because of the convenience it offers and still a very nice image , but this 24mm prime lens has a character all its own. If you experiment with astrophotography, this is also a great option because of the low f-stop!! This 35mm prime lens is exceptional for portraits that need more breathing room. While our initial instinct for portrait photography was to use longer focal length lenses …and we do , we had seen many other photographers using the 35mm and get some stunning shots. The beauty of the 35mm focal length is that it enables you to capture the subject, as well as their surrounding environment if you so choose, without a large amount of noticeable distortion.
This puts it in a unique position as a wide angle lens with little vignetting. Still, it is a great lens option.
Another one of our favorites, the 85mm is the go-to portrait lens. The resulting bokeh is always beautiful and can even distract our eyes from time to time. This is an example of a lens whose images speak for themselves. After a year of trying to shoot wedding rings and other detail items with our 50mm and 85mm to varying levels of success , we decided getting a macro lens would be better to capture these small scale items in a big way.
Initial tests just our backyard shooting some dandelions and bees made us realize just how much we had been missing, and now photographing the smaller things in our world has become much more interesting. This is a highly recommended lens if you are needing to get shots of really small items. As you might have guessed from getting to know us through this article, shooting wedding ceremonies critically requires a lens like this, as we aim not to be in the way of people if we can avoid it — but still want to be able to get the shots we need and our couples need!
This mm in particular has a number of impressive features, and the image quality it produces when paired with a quality camera body such as the Canon 5D Mark III we use is a high standard. Note: As you can see, we use all Canon lenses as they suit our specific needs and we shoot with Canon camera bodies. Most of these lenses have equivalents by other brands such as Nikon, Sony, Olympus, and so on if you search by the brand, focal length, and aperture. Having a computer that can handle the amount of image processing you will be doing is critically important.
Early on in our photography business, we started to realize the computers we had were not going to cut it in the long term, because of the volume of images we would have to cull through and edit. Since updating, our primary workstations include our iMac and Macbook Pro. While pretty expensive upfront, we have also not had any issues with either in the time we have used them.
This is one of the reason why we have remained Mac users since our college days. The Mac platform is very simple and intuitive, and well regarded in artistic industries such as photography. Once you have your computer squared aware, the next step is to figure out how you are going to cull down the images you have taken. We did this for a long time, and prior to becoming professional photographers, this was our go to. However, if you are like us and have to manage A LOT of photos — culling can be a nightmare that seems to take forever. The solution?
Photography for Beginners: A Complete Guide (Updated )
Photo Mechanic! Once we downloaded Photo Mechanic , our business was transformed almost instantly. Culling down thousands of images for a single wedding no longer would take 4 hours, and instead is something we can now do in 30 minutes. It is well worth the price, and even has a free 30 day trial if you want to test it out! There are many photo editing suites out there, which one should I choose? For us, the simple solution is to just stick with Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.
These are really the staple for most photographers, and are what we use ourselves. Lightroom provides convenience for getting most of our editing out of the way, while Photoshop has more support for more detailed editing jobs such as removing people from the background of a shot. A few of these include: Gimp , Fotor , and Photoshop Express. After editing many weddings and sessions comprising thousands and thousands of images, we started to feel some strain on our hands when using a mouse to click around on all the sliders as we make our image adjustments.
If all your images are shot or cropped ratio then you know they will all fit perfectly.
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I got some 6 x 4 photos done recently at Officeworks that I use for my greeting cards and the quality was well below what anyone should be paying for and the guy behind the counter running their photo production told me they only get one day training and he had no idea what Fuji was as they ran a Kodak system. When you take your images to a professional photo lab you will be talking to someone who actually knows about image creation, their systems will be colour managed, their printer will be profiled for the printer their using and the paper their printing on.
If you get a photo printed there today and then printed their again in 2, 6 or 12 months later it will look that same as the first print as their system is consistent. But nothing says you have to print a 40 inch x 26 inch shot or a 60 inch x 40 inch shot just to see. You can ask for a test strip.
What you do is you resize your image to the size you want ie 60 x 40 inch dpi, then you take your crop tool and crop the image at an area where you think it best represents the detail you will want to see in the image. Now with that strip send it off the the lab letting them know the dpi of it as this is important, though they will see this when it is opened anyway. What they will do is print off the strip and you will be able to see exactly what your shot will look like at that size in regards to the detail and even the colour too. If you supply a strip that is 60 inch 1.
You might get charged a few dollars for this but it is a lot better off than paying full price for a 60 x 40 inch photo just to find out you went too far in size. This is something every photographer should get done, regardless if they have a customer buying an image or not. You should know how big you can print YOUR images. Find a photo that best represents all your shots, good capture, good editing etc and get a test strip done of it. Join up to our Newsletter and get a weekly summary every Friday of what new articles and video tutorials have dropped on the website.
Matt Lauder is a full-time landscape, aerial and surf photographer based on the Central Coast of NSW with 20 years experience in the industry. Matt owns and runs his own photo gallery along with his own professional Photo Printing and Framing lab that makes all the products sold on his website, from framed photos to acrylic face mounting. Matt has always had a passion for sharing his knowledge in the industry with running courses and providing online training and this is how the website Rubbing Pixels was born.
Join up to our Newsletter and get a weekly summary of what new articles and video tutorials have dropped on the website. Step One: Resize your image to the size your wanting to print. Simple and Effective. Want to find out when new articles and videos are added? About The Author.
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