Solid photography abilities may be precious for designers and artists, whether your interest is professional or enjoy taking photographs for fun. So let’s say you’ve invested in one of the best cameras for photographers – what’s next? This crash course in photography will teach you how to improve your photographic skills.
This tutorial will reinforce your basic photography skills, free you of bad habits, and allow you to concentrate on creating better photographs, from focusing and composition to white balance and lighting. We’ll show you how to get the most out of your DSLR’s controls so you can capture great pictures. (Note that while we’ll go over processes for Canon and Nikon cameras, similar approaches will work on other brands as well.)
These photography websites also have a wealth of information, and this DSLR cheat sheet is an excellent resource for DSLR newbies (or those who need a refresher). While you’re here, check out our guides to the best picture editing applications and our guide to perfecting portrait photography.
Take Charge of Your Exposure
Allow your camera to focus on its own, using the central focus point. While this will create sharp photographs in many scenarios, controlling the focus point for more creative photography is preferable. After all, your chosen subject won’t always be in the center of the frame.
So the first thing you’ll need to learn is how to focus your camera on the exact point you want to be sharp. Your camera contains several focus points dispersed across the frame that you can see through the viewfinder, and these are a great way to focus on off-center items. In addition, you’ll need to use the single-point autofocus mode on your camera rather than the multiple or automated options.
Individual focus point selection (and the number available) varies by the camera. Still, on Canon models, you must push the AF point selection button, then move the input dial or utilize the selector on the back of the camera. While doing so, look through the viewfinder to observe the active AF point (in red) move around the frame.
After selecting single-point autofocus on most Nikon DSLRs, you use the four-way remote on the back of the camera to highlight a different AF point.
The main disadvantage of using the outer focus points on many cameras is that they are less sensitive than those in the center. As a result, if the subject has low contrast or you’re using a lens with a maximum aperture of f/5.6 or smaller, they may struggle to focus in low light. You might also discover that the camera’s focus point isn’t exactly where you want it to be.
In both circumstances, you can manually focus the lens or use the focus lock approach, which involves highlighting the subject with the active AF point and then half-pressing the shutter release to lock the focus distance before reframing the photo.
Concentrate On Moving Objects
While focusing on a static subject is okay, not everything will patiently wait for you to arrange and snap your photo. As a result, you must master the skill of focusing on moving objects.
To do so, go from Single Shot (Nikon) or One Shot (Canon) AF mode to Continuous or AI Servo mode. Then, when you half-push the shutter-release button to lock focus on your subject, the camera will continue to refocus as the subject moves until you press the button entirely to capture the photo.
You can use any focus points; however, these outside points will struggle to focus in a poor light while shooting low-contrast images or use lenses with a maximum aperture lower than f/5.6.
Recognize What Causes a Blurry Image
When it comes to perfecting focus, it’s also essential to understand why your images aren’t sharp. This could be due to focusing issues, but it could also be a camera shake or a moving subject. You’ll need to figure out what’s causing the problem, and then repair it before trying again.
If the softness is caused by poor focusing, you may see that areas in front and behind the subject are sharp. Conversely, if you can’t see any vital parts, the image will have a uniform blur all around it due to poor focusing.
The characteristic’ streaking’ of bright areas makes it easy to discern blur produced by camera shake. These imply that the camera (or potentially the subject) moved during the exposure at some time.
Achieve Proper White Balance
You may forget to select the correct white balance, mainly if you shoot in raw, as you can modify it afterward when you process your photographs. To check the exposure and colors of your pictures and produce the most outstanding results, you’ll need to get the appropriate white balance in the camera.
Your camera’s Automatic White Balance setting performs a reasonably decent job of capturing colors correctly in standard lighting settings, but it’s not perfect.
When your subject is dominated by a single color or tone, such as a blue sky, orange sunset, or even a big swath of green grass, you’ll get better results by choosing one of the manual preset values.
In these cases, Automatic White Balance can assign a value to counteract the bright color; thus, choosing a white balance option that suits the lighting circumstances, such as Sunlight or Shade, would yield better results.
At sunrise or sunset, the natural white balance of the light is quite near to the Tungsten or Artificial Light option (3,200K). However, if you choose this preset, you’ll lose much of the warmth you’re looking for in your photo.
Set the white balance to Daylight, or even Cloudy, to catch the orange glow in all of its glory.
Customize the White Balance
Take a photo of something white or grey that occupies the entire frame (a piece of card works well) and is in the same position as the topic you wish to photograph. Select Custom or Preset Manual white balance on your camera now.
Exposure Compensation Master
Choosing whether to boost or reduce your shot’s exposure can be perplexing because the adjustment you need to make is sometimes the polar opposite of what you might think. Here’s how to utilize the Exposure Compensation feature on your camera to lighten or darken your photograph.
If your subject consists primarily of light tones, your camera may underexpose your shot. In this case, hit and hold the Exposure Compensation button, then raise the exposure by rotating the dial right to a value of +1 and retaking the shot.
If you’re photographing a primarily dark subject, your camera is likely to overexpose the scene. Therefore, you’ll need to lower the exposure. As before, press and hold the Exposure Compensation button while turning the dial to the left to enter a value of -1.
Decipher the Histogram
When examining your photographs, the quickest approach to check the exposure of your shots is to use the Histogram display on your camera’s back screen.
As you shoot, this indicates the distribution of exposure. To get the most out of this helpful tool, you’ll need to understand the differences between under- and over-exposed images. The image is over-exposed if there is a gap to the left of the Histogram and the graph goes off the right-hand side. For underexposed photos, the converse is true: there will be a gap to the Histogram’s right.
Deal With Lighting That Has a Lot of Contrast
Adjusting the overall exposure with your DSLR’s Exposure Compensation is sufficient for many objects. Still, there are occasions when the subject’s brightness range is too vast for your camera to capture detail in both the shadows and highlights.
The dynamic range is the range of contrast it can handle. While it varies between models, it’s rather usual to discover instances where the difference is more significant than even the most excellent cameras can take.
You’ll be able to recognize these situations before you start shooting with practice, but the quickest method to do so is to examine your shot and check the Histogram, and highlight warnings.
Consider Using an ND Grad Lens Filter
An ND grad lens filter is the typical solution for high-contrast illumination. The dark part of these filters is used to diminish the brightness of the scene’s lightest area, and the transparent site is used to increase the brightness of the scene’s most delicate area.
This is good when a significant portion of the image is brighter than the rest, such as the sky in the open countryside. However, they are less beneficial for subjects with tiny brilliant patches, such as windows or sunlight through trees, because the filter darkens the surroundings around these highlights.
Compared to JPEG mode, shooting in raw allows you to capture more highlight and shadow detail. Even in nature, though, it is easier to recover more detail from the shadows than from the highlights. As a result, while photographing high-contrast scenes, make sure to set the exposure to catch as much highlight detail as possible.
Place Your Subject in Here Position
Learning the fundamentals of composition is one of the essential methods to enhance your photography skills, aside from deciding what to shoot and what settings to employ. There are many laws and theories about what constitutes a perfect composition, but the essential thing to consider while taking photographs is where to place the main subject.
Make Good Use of Space
The space around your topic is almost as vital as the subject itself to the success of your composition. So, first, consider how much of the subject’s environment you want to include in your photograph.
This isn’t an exact science, but if the surroundings add to the photo, such as showing the area around the subject in a portrait or a wildlife image, you should include them. A tighter composition that excludes the background, on the other hand, can let the main topic dominate the picture.
One crucial component of utilizing space in your photographs is particularly relevant to action and portrait photography. When viewing photos of moving subjects, your instinct is to gaze forward into the direction the topic is traveling. As a result, it’s a good idea to allow more space in front of the subject to move into than behind it, or your shot will look unbalanced.
Sharpen Your Shots
Mastering how to get the most out of your imaging program takes time. It’s tempting to believe that the more sharpening you do, the sharper your photographs will appear. However, you must practice restraint; else, you may wind up with more noise and unsightly ‘haloes.’
Applying sharpness at the inappropriate time in your workflow, or even to photos that have already been sharpened, is one of the most common causes of over-sharpening. For example, shooting JPEG photographs may have already been pointed in the camera, so be cautious when applying additional sharpening.
The best way to avoid over-sharpening is to make it one of the last adjustments you make to your pictures, so if you are going to be editing your shots in Photoshop Elements or CS, it’s most beneficial to spin off any in-camera or natural transformation sharpening.
The considerable apparent side-effect of using too much sharpening is a halo around elements in your photos, the development of operating a high Radius backdrop. To spot this, zoom in to 100% on an image area containing dark lines or fine details against a lighter background.
Saturation, like sharpness, should be utilized with caution if you don’t want your photographs to look gaudy and over-cooked. You’ll notice that some colors, particularly reds and greens, are considerably more saturated than others in many settings, so rather than altering the saturation of the entire image, you may use the Hue/Saturation tool to target specific colors.
These are some of the fantastic helpful tips to improve your photography skills. If you are becoming an enhanced photographer, keep these tips in mind while taking pictures and edits.