If you could take a really great photograph what might somebody be prepared to pay for it? Landscape photographer, Peter Lik took an amazing black and white photograph in Antelope Canyon, Arizona. It sold for a record-breaking $6.4 million making all those hours of study and practice worthwhile.
Is there room for improvement in your photographs? There’s always going to be ways you can take better photographs. Read on to learn how to become a better photographer now.
Becoming a Better Photographer
Learning to take great photographs is a journey of discovery.
You’ll learn to see the opportunities for a great photograph. You’ll learn about selecting what to include and what not to include in your frame. You’ll be learning to see things differently.
At the same time, you’ll be learning how to use your camera.
Having the ability to visualize a photograph is one thing. Being able to get your camera to capture that image is another. What you can do outside of the camera with photo editing software is a whole other game.
1. Read Your Manual
A good place to start learning how to use your camera is to read the manual that came with it. Study it and learn how this sophisticated tool works. Being able to press the right button or find that special feature is essential if you are going to take great photos.
Whenever you see a photo opportunity, if you can’t actually operate your camera, you can’t capture the image in the camera. If you have to explore your camera’s menus or press buttons randomly you are probably missing out on capturing the images you want.
2. Force Yourself to Focus
There’s so much that a modern camera can do that it’s easy to get distracted by all the options available. It can be helpful to focus on one thing at a time. Spend time and effort mastering one feature at a time.
For example, you may have several lenses at your disposal. It’s tempting to switch them around and experiment with their different characteristics. Instead, pick one prime lens and explore what you can do with it.
Pick a feature on your camera and learn how to use it well before going on to another feature. Pick a subject and use only aperture control. You’ll discover that you can create a huge range of effects with just this one control.
3. Study Your Work
Reviewing your previous photographs can be a very effective way to improve your photos. Check which photos worked and which ones didn’t. Try to determine why those photographs failed to impress.
This reflection on past photographs can inform your future work. Make a few notes and plan what adjustments you need to make next time you take your camera out.
4. Lightroom Presets
The power of post-process software can transform an OK photo into one you can be proud of. The software is very powerful but it can also take lots of practice and experience before you can master it.
A quick way to wield the power of post-production is to use presets. Hue and Hatchet presets for Lightroom, for example, can make your photos stand out by applying a standardized style to them. You can apply sophisticated editing techniques easily and quickly.
5. Compose It
The composition is one of the easiest things to get wrong in a photograph. Distracting elements, poor cropping, and dead space in the photograph are among the many mistakes you can make.
Try using the rule of thirds. Image lines dividing your image into a grid made up of nine boxes. Place the subject of your photograph at one of the intersections of the grid lines rather than in the middle of the image. You’ll immediately notice how much more dynamic your pictures look.
6. Change Your Position
You might think that taking a great photo might be about the position of the subject. What can be just as important is your position.
Move around when you are taking pictures. Try different heights and angles. Explore how the light changes on your subject depending on where you place the camera rather than where you place the subject.
We so often see things from our eye level that changing the height at which we position the camera can have a very exciting result. Taking a photo from down low can make the subject seem powerful and dramatic. Taking the picture from high up can make the subject seem more passive or weaker.
7. Use the Golden Hour
Much of photography is about lighting. Lighting is not always about how a subject is lit. It can be about when you take a photograph.
Early in the morning and late in the evening the sunrise and sunset create dramatic effects for photographers. Try taking photos in this very special light and you’ll notice how your images benefit.
8. Avoid Distractions
The way you see things is not how a camera captures images. Understanding this will help you avoid distracting elements in your pictures.
The way your eyes and brain function help you focus on what’s important in a scene. You can be hardly aware of objects in the foreground or background. Take a picture and all those distracting elements will be in the photograph.
As you compose a photograph, take a moment to explore what is included in the frame of the photograph. Is there a spurious and distracting object, a truncated limb, or an inexplicable source of light? This is your opportunity to avoid the photobomber whose cheesy grin might detract from your fabulously moody image.
Even if you never take a course, keep learning by taking photographs. Practice and critically review your own work. In time, you’ll become a better photographer.
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