Tips for beginner photographers

Amateur photography tips

Photography is an art.  As an observer you will see scenes that others don't.  There is a lot more to photography than just pressing the shutter button.  As a photographer you need to understand your surroundings, your subject, the quality of light, direction of light, the balance of light and the list can go on.  Here are a few simple, basic photography tips to give your images a bit more character.

1.  Learn to shoot with RAW!  Shooting in RAW gives you many benefits.  When you shoot in RAW you have a lot more control when you edit your images.  You can change white-balance, sharpness, curves, all without the loss of quality.  If you had compare images edited in RAW to a JPG file edited in photoshop, you may notice the quality difference.  The down side to shooting in RAW is obviously the file size.  Depending on your camera, RAW files are significantly larger that shooting in JPG. So if you do decide to shoot in RAW, be sure your memory card is big enough for the job!

2.  Be mindful of your light source.  Many amatuer photographer get so excited to be on shoot that all the basics go right out the window!  Lighting is dependent on the mood and style you are trying to achieve, but don't foget to have fun and explore different lighting styles and be mindful of their effects.  If you are shooting with just one light-source, try avoid setting it up directly in front of your subject.  This tends to blow out your image, leaving you with a flat unflattering image.  Instead try using side lighting to accent shadows and shapes.  You can achieve some fantastic photographs with back-lighting.  You have to be carefull with back-lighting, because if you don't meter your scene correctly you can also end up with under-exposed subjects.  Sometimes it is a good idea to use a little bit of fill-in light if you shoot with back-lighting.

3. Metering.  This is incredibly important!  But thanks to technology, exposure problems can be sorted out a lot easier these days in post production, but it is better to get the image right first time around!  Try imagine the imagery you want to create.  I have found, shooting food and fashion, that it is sometimes better to slightly over-expose an image.  This where RAW is great, because you can change your exposure value without losing image quality.  Remember if you are metering for a darker area in your frame, your image will come out brighter.  Conversely if you meter for a really bright area, the darks will become even darker!  

4. ISO.  ISO, for those who aren't too sure, is the film speed.  The higher the ISO (or ASA) the faster your film speed, thus faster your shutter will be.  The higher you crank the ISO, the more grain you will notice in your image.  This is not necessarily always a bad thing.  Sometimes the grain from a higher ISO can give you moody or vintage feel to your photographs.  I am not a fan of on camera flash.  So when I have to shoot music events and there is mood lighting, I tend to embrace it.  I feel you get more of feel for the event if you use the mood lighting.  Sometimes a flash can blow out a scene and you lose some of the colours of the event.  So I turn up my ISO to achieve faster shutter speeds.  This doesnt always work. If the venue is too dark, your images are going to be ghostly, due to the slow shutter speeds.  You have to be mindful of these things and plan accordingly.

5. Composition.  Composition is a tricky one, as it is very subjective.  There is no right or wrong per se and it greatly depends what you are trying to acheive with your image.  Needless to say there  are a few things to keep in mind.  Don't clutter your frame.  Decide what is the "hero" in your frame and make that the focus.  You need to draw in a persons attention to what subject of the photograph is.  Sometimes it is not always the best to place your subject slap bang in the middle of the frame.  Explore, have fun with it.  Another rule I use a lot with composition is "the rule of thirds".  This basically 

These are just a few basic tips for photohraphy enthusiasts or beginners.  Photography is an art and its skill definitely needs to be worked on.