Photography is a fun hobby for me because it’s a constant work in progress. The more classes I take and the more time I spend exploring my camera’s settings, the better my photos become. This is fulfilling because I can look back and see how much I’ve grown. Being able to visually see results is a wonderful thing!
I thought that for my first photography post, I’d talk about how to make your photos more visually appealing because who doesn’t want eye-catching photographs on their website? There’s no need to go out and buy a new DSLR because all of the tips and tricks I’m about to discuss can be applied to a point and shoot camera.
I’m by no means a professional photographer, but here are a few of the photography tips I’ve learned in different classes. I’m constantly thinking about them as I snap away:
1. Rule of thirds
The Rule of Thirds will improve the balance and composition of your photographs. You’ll want to visually split the image into thirds (vertically and horizontally) and place the subject on an intersection or line. This is more visually pleasing than having a subject smack-dab in the middle of your viewfinder. If you need a reminder, some cameras have a grid option you can turn on, but soon enough it should become second nature.
2. Lean into the frame
Having your subject lean into the frame looks more natural, especially when you’re photographing people and animals. In the second photo below, we’re not sure where the subject is going and it almost feels uneasy. Of course you can break this rule if you’re wanting to portray something dramatic.
I never use my camera’s built-in flash because the light is too harsh. I shoot all of my photographs in natural light and when the sky is cloudy or in the early morning/late afternoon. Even when I’m shooting food for one of my (rare) recipe posts, I’ll bring it outside. If you need to photograph an object indoors, use the natural light from a window or adjust your camera’s white balance to achieve natural colors. And if you absolutely need to use your built-in flash, you can use a tissue over it, diffuser or bounce flash device.
4. White balance
Have you ever taken a photo and the colors look too cool or warm? There’s probably an issue with your white balance. Most cameras have a variety of white balance settings and I find these to be more useful than my Nikon’s auto white balance, which isn’t always accurate. Go to your menu and look for the following:
1. Incandescent – I use this in our apartment because the lighting is too yellow/orange. This will cool down the colors.
2. Fluorescent – Best used in offices, parking garages, stadiums and anywhere else with fluorescent lighting. This setting will warm up the colors.
3. Direct sunlight – Use this in direct sunlight when the tones are spread out evenly.
4. Flash – This add warmth and prevents your flash from being too aggressive.
5. Cloudy – Use this setting on a cloudy day when you need to add warmth to your photos.
6. Shade – Use this in shade when you need to add more of a pink/red tone to photos that would otherwise turn out too blue/green.
7. Manual – You can manually set your white balance by aiming at a white piece of paper, white/grey card.
I also adjust my temperature while I’m editing. I use Lightroom and it’s very simple but makes a huge difference!
too cool or blue accurate white balance too warm or yellow
5. Shoot in black and white
My instructor suggested I try this and I finally understand why. By switching your camera’s settings to black and white, you begin to think about light differently. How does it impact texture, depth, exposure? These are the things you’ll notice when you shoot in this setting. And who knows? It could spark your creativity as well.
6. Leading lines
Leading lines help control how people view a photograph by bringing their eyes to a subject or by “leading” them through a photograph. You won’t use this all of time, but when the opportunity presents itself it makes for an interesting shot. The lines can be straight or curved – doesn’t matter.
7. Tell a single story
My last instructor told me that photography is an art of subtraction. To tell a single story or to communicate a single emotion, you need to get rid of everything else that might be a distraction. Don’t weaken an image by allowing unrelated items to stay in the background.
8. Examine the edges of your viewfinder and the background
Building upon the tip above, examine the background of your subject and the edges of your viewfinder for anything that sticks out. This might mean other people in the background, a street sign, a tree that’s cut off, your finger, etc. Also be aware of distracting colors that could inadvertently become the focal point of your photograph.
9. Avoid eye level shooting and use your feet
Get down in the dirt, stand on a chair, lean up against a rail… get your feet moving! This was the most important “rule” for me to learn and once I got the hang of it, my photography started to improve immediately. Don’t be afraid to get creative. If you’re unsure of which angle you prefer, take multiple shots and then decide on your favorites once you’re editing. And don’t forget to take both vertical and horizontal photographs!
Different angles of a Moroccan cat I fed every day. Which one is your favorite?
10. Look for things that catch your eye
To be a good photographer, you need to see things differently. The next time you’re wandering around a city or enjoying a beautiful countryside, look for the following instead of passing them by:
1. A subject that looks different from everything else (a red tulip in a yellow field)
2. A bright area (a break in the clouds or beam of sunlight on a building/subject)
3. Reflections on the water or on the side of a glass building
4. Patterns and repetition
Thank you for reading my first photography post! I will be adding to this series in the next couple of weeks but feel free to email me any questions you might have. I hope this helps you to improve your photos with these digital photography tips!
Filed Under: Photography