Photography is an art form that, hopefully, if you get it right not only captures the essence of a scene, an object, a person or animal, but is an opportunity to share your own perspective on the situation.
A truly outstanding and memorial photograph usually captures an image, or scene, that tells a whole story, often conveying an emotion or a real sense of being at the scene to the viewer. For more of an idea of what I’m talking about here are some of the most influential photographs ever captured.
Imagine the perfect Shot
There are a lot of things to think about when you are trying to capture the perfect shot. As well as the scene or image that you want to capture, there are all sorts of other factors too, such as composition, depth of field and light (or exposure).
Whether you have the newest, state of the art digital camera or a smart phone and whether you are a seasoned photographer or a complete beginner there are a few handy tips to think about for capturing the perfect shot.
The first and most basic tip is actually thinking about the shot you want to take. Obviously, if it involves a human or animal subject then sometimes you just have to whip it out and shoot to be able to capture the moment.
Other times however, it can be useful to think about what attracts you to a scene, what you want to capture and convey and why that particular scene has appealed to you. This involves imagining the photo before you have taken it and working backwards from there.
Composition of the Shot
The composition of a photograph is one of the key elements to how aesthetically pleasing it is. Whilst there are no hard and fast rules to photography, for beginners the rule of thirds is a good starting point. The rule of thirds is a technique whereby you mentally divide the frame to be shot into thirds. So the frame is divided by two lines vertically and two lines horizontally giving you a total in the frame of nine equally sized, squares.
Now, think of a photo opportunity, for example your child in front of an amazing scene. Most casual photographers will put the child in the center of the image and snap away. Using the rule of thirds you may well off set the child to the left or right third of the frame allowing more of the scenery in the background. This simple technique is very effective in producing better composed pictures that are a lot more interesting.
In a frame of a coastal view, for example, you could frame the horizon on the first vertical line down and the breaking waves on the third. It is simply a technique based on mathematical theory that seems to correlate with a more aesthetically pleasing shot.
You could take some time out and look through some photos that really impress you and see how (and if) the rule of thirds applies. All rules are not set in stone, especially in such a creative art as photography, but it is interesting to start more closely observing the rules of composition.
Once you have got to grips with the basics of the rule of thirds you can then play around and start bending the rules such as doing a composition that involves diagonal lines or photographs with perfect symmetry.
Avoiding Camera Shake:
Even the mildest camera shake can result in blurring of your photographs. Here are some simple techniques to minimize camera shake:-
Be Aware of the Light
However, before even beginning to adjust your settings on your camera, it can be useful to start with the very basics. So observe how much natural or artificial light there is and see in what direction it is hitting the subject of the scene. You can move yourself around to capture the interplay of light and subject from different angles. The use of shadow in some frames can also add depth and atmosphere. So be very aware of the light before you begin.
As well as physically observing the light and shadows of a scene and being aware of the Exposure Triangle there is also a rule which can be useful in predicting how camera exposure setting can be set based on a sunny day outside. This is known as the Sunny 16 Rule
The aperture of your camera should be set at f/16, following this the shutter speed that you need should be the inverse of your ISO.
Simply put, this means,
- If your ISO is set at 400 then the shutter speed should be 1/400-second
- If your ISO is set at 100 then your shutter speed should be 1/100-second
- If your ISO is set at 1000 then your shutter speed should be 1/1000-second
There are also general rules for shooting in different light settings, but this is just an introduction to the basics. These settings serve as a starting point for ideal light exposure and then you can improvise from there.