We all browse through Instagram and are impressed by some of the pictures we see. Others are nowhere near professional quality especially those that have been taken through some kind of filter such as snapchat. You may love them but personally I hate snapchat filters. I am a bit more accepting of the editing done after a picture has been taken, apparently all professionals do it.
Over the weekend I caught up with a friend who takes photography very seriously and taught me some basics which improved my skills. Although the real test will be the next time I take a picture for my sister who has labelled me as the worst person to take pictures, even worse than her husband.
“You are the worst person to take pictures. Even my husband can take better pictures than you. Out of the 100 you took on holiday only one was not bad.”
A snippet of our more recent conversation;
1. Align your camera to something – the subject will always come out straight
One mistake people make is focussing their attention too much on the “subject” (the focus of the picture) rather than what is around them. As a result the camera can end up being tilted or at an angle both of which will result in bad pictures. The trick is to align with a straight line in the background, ie the shelf in the background.
“You often see pictures with the sea in the background where the person is straight but the sea is tilted, this is because of photographer hasn’t tried to straighten the background” my friend said.
2. Put more space where the person is looking
In my case the smaller bear is facing slightly to the left so best to keep the extra space on that side of the picture than to the right.
3. Lighting is very important, but can be out of your control
Lighting is a painful lesson I learnt through YouTube recordings. In the early days the room positioning was such that if I wanted to record then I needed to make sure I was using lighting to improve the focus of my recording. However, as I was newly starting out and didn’t have the correct equipment I had to make do with lamps which then created shadows. Once the lighting is fixed however the picture always looked good.
The reality is when you are taking pictures on your phone you won’t access to the same resources but small things like if you are taking a selfie then taking one facing the window can help.
Unfortunately, the lighting in the store was out of my control.
4. Tap on your phone to get the focus right
Some phones give the option of changing the lighting slightly and focus the picture where you want. This can be effective if done properly but may be influenced by the quality of your phone.
In case you have wondered what this feature is, when you tap on your phone you get a little sun which like image (shown below). You can use this to adjust the focus a little.
I then had a go at some professional pictures and learnt about lenses, shutter speed, blurring items. A true photographer does what it takes to take a good picture I was told.
Basic tips such as aligning your phone to something to make the pictures straight and lighting go a long way in improving the pictures you take. There are many other tools available to make your pictures better and all professional photographers complete their pictures by editing the end product, although keeping the editing as natural as possible is best.