Photography can seem daunting at first, but with a few basic techniques and tips, anyone can start taking great photos. Here are 10 essential tips for beginners looking to improve their photography skills:
- Learn the Exposure Triangle
The exposure triangle consists of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Understanding how these three components work together is key to capturing proper exposures. Aperture controls how much light enters the camera. Shutter speed controls how long the camera sensor is exposed to light. ISO controls light sensitivity of the camera sensor. Learn how adjusting these settings can affect your photos.
- Use the Rule of Thirds
Don’t always put your subject in the center of the frame. The rule of thirds is a composition technique where you imagine the frame divided into thirds, both vertically and horizontally. Align your subject on one of the imaginary lines or where lines intersect for a more balanced, interesting shot.
- Pay Attention to Lighting
Light is crucial in photography. Pay attention to the direction, color, and quality of light. Use natural lighting when possible, but also learn how to use flash and reflectors to manipulate lighting. Side lighting accentuates shape and textures. Backlighting creates rim light around your subject. Diffused lighting is more flattering for portraits.
- Shoot in RAW Format
RAW format captures uncompressed, high-quality image data direct from the camera sensor. This allows greater flexibility for adjusting exposure, white balance, and making other corrections during editing. The downside is RAW files take up more memory space.
- Compose with Leading Lines
Use lines in the environment to draw the viewer’s eye into the frame and towards the subject. Lines can be railroad tracks, fences, roads, trees, or any line that moves the eye through the image to create dynamism and interest.
- Learn to Use Focal Length
Focal length of a lens impacts the field of view and perspective. Wider angle lenses below 50mm allow you to get more into the frame, but can distort figures when photographing people. Longer focal lengths above 70mm allow you to zoom in without moving closer, compressing perspective in portraits.
- Use the Histogram
The histogram shows the tonal range of an image, from shadows on the left to highlights on the right. Use the histogram when shooting to ensure you have adequate shadows and highlights, rather than under or overexposed areas. Checking the histogram allows you to make adjustments.
- Use a Tripod
A tripod eliminates camera shake, especially helpful at slow shutter speeds and telephoto focal lengths. Tripods also allow you to set up and carefully compose the shot. Use a tripod for maximum sharpness in landscapes and other static scenes.
- Clean Your Lens
Dust, dirt, and fingerprints on a lens prevents sharp focus and can introduce unwanted flares and shadows on the sensor. Always store lenses capped and clean the lens frequently with a microfiber cloth. Never use direct breath or harsh cleaners which could damage coatings.
- Practice, Practice, Practice!
There’s no substitute for regularly practicing your photography skills. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll become with camera controls. You’ll start to develop an artistic eye for photography. Be patient and keep shooting. Applying these tips will help hone your skills.
Photography requires both technical knowledge and creative vision. With dedication and practice, anyone can become proficient. Use these basic tips to improve your photographic abilities, whether shooting with your phone or a DSLR. Don’t get discouraged. With consistent work, you’ll be amazed at the photos you can create.