Sunday, May 06, 2012

Silence is true wisdom's best reply.


Ezra impersonates Clint Eastwood. Mount Wellington, Hobart. April 2012.

I figure that for today's Sunday Top Five we may as well try and be useful. Today I present to you My Top Five Quick And Easy Tips To [Hopefully} Take Better Photographs!


  • Go to where the picture is! Be prepared to get your knees dirty for the sake of a shot. Get down on the ground, climb up a tree, squat low and reach up high. Like a lot of things in life, even the most ordinary thing can look far more interesting from a different angle or a different perspective.


  • Don't fixate on the centre! If you're wondering why your photos might all look a bit 'the same', it could be that you are always focusing on the centre of the shot. Don't! Mix up your composition. Try and encourage the observer's eye to follow through the photo by using of strong lines or patterns. It's not always about the thing in the middle.


  • Know where your light is! Light can make or break a picture. Where you stand and where you point is all important. Whether you want to sun behind you or whether you want to shoot into it, you need to be thinking about its effect on your photo. Do you want a silhouette effect? Strong or subtle colours? Which way are the shadows falling? Also, the time of day you take your camera out matters. Both ends of the day will give you particularly nice shadows and colours. Shooting in the middle of the day will often mean you need to get creative with your composition.


  • Time is of the essence! If your like me and kids feature a lot, speed is critical. At any point your subject may move, bolt, fly away, stop smiling, cry, turn around, fall over hit someone, attack you or just get tired of waiting for you to take the picture. High shutter speeds and rapid fire shooting is often the order of the day. Practice getting quicker and quicker to the draw. Like the boys scouts, the trick is always to be prepared. I'll often spend a few minutes getting the settings right for the conditions, then keep it locked and loaded in your hand. Don't hang about waiting for something to happen, just shoot and shoot often!


  • Experiment! I used to shoot with film and then develop it myself. It is both a challenging and enjoyable experience. It can also be time-consuming and incredibly frustrating. Anyone who has spent the best part of a pre-dawn winter's day up to their chest in a river trying to wrangle out that ideal 'spooky river's mist' shot, only to find that somehow they've contaminated the fixer and now got spots on the negatives will know the frustration that comes with 'doing it the old-fashioned way'. It's also bloody expensive. Digital cameras have changed all that, and now I never have to worry about time spent on film processing costs or running out of shots. As a result, experimenting with our photos' composition has become a real possibility; we can fire off tons of shots and delete the unwanted ones later at absolutely no extra cost. Take advantage of this fact and experiment with your composition - you never know whether an idea will work until you try it.

    As with any list of 'rules', they are flexible. Every camera is different and flash ranges and focus depths will vary. Muck about with your camera. Take the same shot a dozen ways and see what you have. Shoot with the flash when you normally wouldn't, without a flash when you would. Get in close and get down low. All of this will allow you to get to know your camera's strengths and limitations and [hopefully] you'll soon be able to judge any given shot intuitively.
  • 1 comment:

    smudgeon said...

    all excellent advice & tips! i think the biggest oversight by most people is to just stand still and shoot from eye level. a lot of people look at me like i'm loopy when i get down on my knees, stand on chairs, shoot from the hip, etc. there's an infinite number of ways to shoot a scene, and the differences (subtle or dramatic) can make a good photo sublime...

    ...and of course, knowing your equipment. not that everyone needs an intimate understanding of aperture, ISO, etc, it's not entirely necessary when nearly all digitals have "scene modes". just an understanding on how to make the camera work for you...although the snob in me thinks anyone who takes more than happy-snaps should know how shutter-ISO-aperture work together!