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Simple tips to
help you take better pictures

Tips for Better Pictures

Today's e-tip:

What does it take
to take good pictures?

It's the BIG things that count!
What does it take to take good pictures?
Taking great pictures requires the following:
Great Images
  • Good subject
  • Good lighting
  • Good background
  • Good composition
  • Technique
"Drawing with Light"
The word "Photography" comes from the Greek, meaning "Drawing with Light". Nothing could be more accurate to describe shooting images with our cameras. What you're photographing isn't a subject, foreground and/or background - it's the light that's falling on the subject, foreground & background.

The quality of that light determines the quality of your image. Bad light yields a bad image; good light yields a good image.

It's about the Light!
We often recognize good subjects, but we don’t always recognize good lighting and backgrounds. Technique and composition is what we use to turn the subject, lighting and background into a great image. A really good subject can be made to look really bad under the poor light. And a mediocre subject can be made to look GREAT under great lighting! And poor composition can ruin an image.

Here are two images of a mediocre subject - the one on the right was taken in "good" light - what makes the difference between the two images? You may be inclined to say it is the "shadow", but, in reality, it's the "good light" that creates the shadow.

Good and Bad Lighting

When shooting, learn to look for the right combination of the subject, light and background. Then "compose" the image and rely on your technique to turn what you see into an image. You, as the photographer, have the ability to CHANGE any scene you want by just moving! Depending on how far away your subject is, you can just move 1 foot in any direction, and most images change significantly as the background changes. And the background is a very significant part of any image.

Here are 3 pictures of a plant - I moved about a foot to my right or left to take each. You can see how different each image is - and the difference was simply my position. For the "best" image, I made sure the background was in deep shade.
Good and Bad composition

Flat light
Flat lighting, as in a cloudy day, is pretty bad light for most any picture, however, flower-pictures can be great in flat light! With no harsh shadows, you can really capture the detail in a flower under cloudy-skies. You probably already know that the best light is in the first few hours after sunrise and the last few hours before sunset. The light is "warmer" and casts long shadows, which can exaggerate texture. But mid-day, when the light is harsh, look for subjects with great color.

In most images, you’ll want to “isolate” the subject. This means that when you look at the picture, the viewer will have no choice but to see what you want them to see.

Use Contrast
You isolate your subject through “contrast”. Using contrast to isolate your subject means that you photograph a light subject on a dark background or a dark subject on a light background (silhouette).

Dark on Light    Light on Dark

Use Color
You can also use “color” to isolate your subject by using complimentary colors. If your subject is red, look for an opposite color for a background. This chart shows the complimentary (opposite) colors.

Complimentary Colors
Complimentary Colors example    Complimentary Colors example

Use Focus
And lastly, you can use “focus” to isolate your subject. By using a large lens opening and/or a longer focal length lens, you can reduce the amount of depth of field you have and keep your subject sharp, while the background is a soft blur. This is part of your “technique”. You need to understand “how your camera sees” in order to be able to get the images you want.

Dark on Light    Light on Dark

You can’t always manipulate the light (although, sometimes you can!), but you can often change the background in your images to help isolate your subject.

Happy shooting!!

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Sirui K-10x Ball Head
Fantastic quality combined with a great price makes this your best choice in an industry-standard ball head.

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