Monday, May 23, 2011

A Question for my Readers

I love blogging. Really, I do. I also love to drool over the stunning photos found on truly beautiful blogs like this one and this one.

Oh, I have a camera....not an expensive one, mind you, since my minimal photography skills don't really merit any kind of large investment. It's a little Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W330, which is conveniently small and even more conveniently sturdy enough to withstand its somewhat brutal life at the bottom of my bag.

I even have Adobe Photoshop Elements, so I can do some basic editing.

But I don't even know where to start. So I point and click and and shake my head in resignation and post my mediocre pictures while I continue to be inspired by blogs like this one.

So here is my question for my readers. What is the single best photography tip you could offer an amateur like me? What is one thing I could do to make my pictures better?


Hal Jones IV said...

Experiment. Watch the bandwith out of YouTube videos with people using the program you do and try some of the techniques. You may surprise yourself.

Emily said...

I hadn't thought of that...I'll try it! Thanks!

EverybodyDiesbutNotEveryoneLives said...

The rule of thirds...I don't know what this means but I have heard photo people say that and think it means dont be tempted to always take pictures with the main object in the center

Monica Jacobson said...

Well, I consulted with Marty, and he agreed with me. I always consult with Marty. ;-) The people in the blogs you posted all have SLRs. The only way you're going to REALLY improve so that you're truly happy with your photos is to buy a SLR. Any SLR, cheap or not, will be better than a camera that isn't. You can get a very decent kit for $400 (canon 40D + lens), or you can get a potentially frustrating SLR and decent lens for $250 (Canon Rebel XT).

However.... if you don't have the cash or want to make an investment, you can do several things. Marty says that all photographers should read strobist lighting 101 (you can google it). So... a couple of things you can easily do--Marty's ideas. The best way to improve photos is to light them. You can buy a flash, or with whatever is already on the camera, put a white piece of paper in front of the flash diagonally (if u is the flash and / is the paper.. "u/") which will then bounce the light up to the ceiling and give you a better look. You can also light the objects (if you're taking pictures of objects) with several lamps, which you should put as close to the objects as you can without it entering into the picture. Your camera will automatically adjust for it.

Anyway... hope this is helpful. :-)

Aaron Scales said...

Good news! You don't need a great camera to take great photos, you really just need to have a good eye for great shots.

If you're trying to capture an event, you have to capture the spirit of the experience rather than simply who showed up. Focus on the details that make the event unique. Maybe it's the corner of a lacy tablecloth, a closeup of a colorful fruit salad or the light glistening through a glass of champagne against the backdrop of a patterned spring dress. Be covert, too. Be ready for the perfect moments; the light breaking through a cloud illuminating your subject, the bicycle wheel whizzing by to frame a shot for a split second or the unexpected laugh from a friend in a nearby conversation. Seize those opportunities!

I rarely/never center the subject in the frame but capture them in the side thirds of the frame. I try and capture the feeling of the moment, so if there's movement, I'll skew the angle of the shot by tilting the camera to exaggerate the sense of motion. I also prefer large swathes of negative space to draw more attention to the subject. Of course, you have to have a nicer camera in order to isolate the subject while blurring the surroundings; this is key for that professional look. However, for detail closeups, even a cheap camera will focus nicely if you angle the shot correctly and closely enough.

I have the Panasonic DMC-GF2 which combines the compactness of a digital camera with the fun of interchangeable lenses while automatically adjusting for the best light settings. It's great for point and shoots but delivers stong results. Plus it shoots HD video and stills in 3D!

Emily said...

You guys are great! I so appreciate all of the input!

EverybodyDiesbutNotEveryoneLives, that is very true. I should try to keep that principle in mind.

Monica, that *is* helpful. Thank you! (And thank Marty!;-) )

Aaron, that's very inspiring and your ideas are wonderful. I'll definitely keep them in mind!