Are you just getting started in digital photography and not exactly "happy" with the quality of the pictures you have taken so far? No need to fret about it. This can be solved by using the same basic strategy that professionals use each and everytime they get behind a camera. For our purposes in this article we will be looking at a three step action plan that can dramatically improve the quality of your picture taking. If you practice it enough to make it a new habit you can find yourself focused on deciding what kind of pictures you want to take instead of worrying about the quality. Do you think this would lead to more happy customers? Or at the very least more money and satisfaction in the long run? The rest of our article will concentrate on the ....
Fundamental Steps For More Professional Looking Photos
The process you will want to follow is easy to describe but not so easily implemented. This is especially true for beginners. But like anything else you will get better at it as you put the time in mastering the fundamentals. The three steps in this process are as follows:
1) Proper Focus
2) Proper Exposure
3) Proper Composition
Implementing Proper Picture Focus
When it comes to picture focus let's make sure we are all on the same page. For the sake of this article we define it as:
"The distinctness or clarity of an image rendered by an optical system"
Of course that is a technical definition. Have you ever looked at a photo that wasn't quite in focus? It's one thing if this was done as part of the overall theme of the photo. But if it wasn't, then it shows the lack of photography skill of the picture taker. For our purposes we want to make sure that the focus of our pictures are sharp. This makes it easier to view the picture and to communicate the theme of the it.
Implementing Proper Exposure Wikipedia defines picture exposure as follows
"... Subjecting of light rays reflected or transmitted by a subject being photographed, under controlled conditions of time and intensity, of a photosensitive film for the purpose of producing a latent image thereon"
This is one of the biggest issues that amateur photographers make on an almost routine basis. Not having your subject lit in a manner that compliments the theme of the shot is a big problem that can be easily solved. That is, if the picture taker is aware of it. This means planning your light sources before you take the shot. This is something you do as a part of the overall theme. Of course there are exceptions to this like int he case when you are actually wanting to create dark shadows in the picture. In this case it's done as a way to compliment the chosen theme. But chances are as an amateur that these "artifacts" are not planned or wanted. If you are not sure how to plan your lighting sources then take advantage of the iterative approach that digital photography provides. This means mocking the final shoot as closely as possible and making changes until you get the exposure levels right. You and your subject will be a lot happier and satisfied if this is done properly!
Implementing Proper Picture Composition
According to Webster's definition:
"... Composition is a putting together of a whole, the make-up of anything and/or a mixture of substance."
There are no fast hard rules when it comes to making sure your pictures have a great composition. There are some general principles you can follow to make sure that you are at least in the ballpark. This is more art then science so a feel for this will get better as you put more time into it.
Starting off you should observe the "Rule of Thirds". This principle is based on the fact that our eyes tend to be drawn to a point about two-thirds up from the plane we are looking at. For our purposes here you can imagine a picture divided into nine parts. To apply this principle it means cropping a picture so that the main subject is located at or around one of the intersection points of the nine parts discussed rather than the center of the image.
When it comes to landscapes you will also want to observe this rule as follows. If the focus of your picture is water or land then the imaginary horizontal line (i.e derived from the nine parts) will be about two-thirds from the bottom. Conversely, if the sky is the main focus then the imaginary horizontal line will be about one-third up from the bottom, leaving the sky to fill in the remaining two-thirds of the picture.
Your goal will be to consistently implement the three concepts we have discussed above. The idea is to master these fundamentals so that you can move on to even more advanced techniques of photography.
Here Are The 4 Action Steps You Need to Implement
Step 1) Decide what the central theme of your picture will be.
Step 2) Decide on the type of shot that will yield the needed focus.
Step 3) Decide on the lighting plan that will lead to the proper exposure.
Step 4) Take the shot that also incorporates the "Rule Of Thirds" while still optimally visually communicating the theme.
Common Implementation Problems
A lot of amateur photographers have an issue with implementing Step 1).
A quick way to get past this is to simply answer the following three questions:
Q1) What emotion are you trying to get across?
Q2) What concept are you trying to communicate?
Q3) What lifestyle situation are you trying to visually convey?
Another common issue is to try to do everything in one photo.
One of the best ways to get past this is to attempt to write the subject of your picture in one sentence. Chances are you will not be able to do this if your subject isn't strongly coherent. That's ok. It means you need to keep working on that sentence until you have a concise focused set of words that completely describe one central theme or idea.
In this article we looked at how to make your pictures look more professional by implementing the three concepts of focus, exposure and composition. By following the steps we outlined you can expect a much more efficient use of your photography time. You will also find yourself being able to make more money with your services and on stock photo sites. The strategy we have outlined will be most effective when you know how to implement the concepts we discussed. Conversely; it will be of less value when one or more of the concepts is out of your control.
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