EDIT of MARCH 20, 2013. I currently now own a Nikon 1 V1. A hybrid camera which I may post about in the future.
It seems like the current fad right now in the digital photography world is what DSLR you have, with what lens, when you got it, the best deals for it, and more.
And if you don’t have a DSLR… Well, you are not a real photographer. ;)
It is my opinion there are some more basic things one should know and use before even considering dropping a grand or so on a quality camera… Because a DSLR or an expensive camera does not a photographer make.
This post is meant to help you take better pictures, regardless of the camera you have. If you employ these techniques I have been taught by others, I can assure you that your pictures will not only look better, but you will have a more enjoyable time taking pictures.
Because that is what photography is all about. :)
I have used, and probably will always use, a Nikon Coolpix point-and-shoot camera. This is the one I have right now:
I like Nikon because they deliver the best quality for the price in my experience. I have tried panasonic, sony, and Cannon Brands in the $150-$200 range, and Nikon is what I always wound up going back to because of the superior Focusing abilities, and inclusion of features such extra wide lenses, ability to choose between auto and manual, and more.
I say all that only because if you are looking for a camera and don’t know where to start… I recommend start with Nikon. :)
So, now that you have a camera in your hand, here are three things I have been taught over the years that will make anyone a better photographer with relative ease.
#1: Know your camera.
Your camera is a complicated piece of electronics, micro-gears, and computers. The fact digital cameras are so small, yet so powerful truly is amazing. Many people buy a cheap digital camera, set it on “Auto” and start clicking away.
While this will probably work outside without to much trouble, and inside with flash overexposing everything in site… If you really want good pictures, you need to know how your camera works. Basics such as exposure, ISO, Lighting balance, and more are all included in any camera. Learn how to change these and what they mean! The computer is not always going to get it right.
The better you know your camera and how it behaves in various conditions will enable you to be better prepared going into those conditions. This comes with experience, knowledge of basic terms, and knowing what you want you camera to do… then making the computer do it.
#2: Use the Rule of threes.
If you take any good photography class, you are going to hear about the rule of 3s. This is a super simple, yet powerful technique you can apply to any picture you are taking. Here is how it works…
Picture a Tic-Tac-Toe board on your camera screen. Wherever the lines intersect, those are the best places to put the subject in your picture. Unless you are shooting a super close macro shot, The subject should pretty much Never go in the dead center of your picture. It really is amazing how much better pictures look when taken with the rule of threes in mind.
Now, you have a solid picture on your camera. It isn’t blurry, is taken with good composition, but looks rather bland as far as color goes. This is where a lot of people divide over digital photography. After image editing is a very powerful thing to use to make a good picture look great. There are many free programs out there to edit with. Some are simple like Picasa, others, quite powerful and complex, like GIMP. You don’t have to have the latest $600 version of photoshop… (Though I must admit, it is quite nice) Those free programs often do everything one needs to do basic edits in order to enhance an image.
Here is a picture before:
As you can see, it has a decent amount of color, but it was cloudy and raining outside, so you can’t quite see the actual color of the car.
Cropping the image, Applying a little more saturation, and increasing the contrast a little… (easy things to do in any editing program)
You now have a more accurate representation of what the car actually looked like.
It took 5 minutes, and you have a much better looking picture.
Not all images are easy to edit, but most are.
So there ya go, Three things I have learned over the years on how to take better pictures with a “Cheapy” camera. If you have any tips, or things you have learned, be sure to comment! They are most appreciated.
Back to editing the 12 Apostles… ;)