Do you get frustrated because you find it hard to take a decent photo whether that be on your mobile phone or another camera that you own? Well I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to own a special camera to be able to take better photos, I encourage you even if you take photos with your mobile to read this post as it will help you no matter what camera you use. It isn’t about the camera it’s about the person operating it!
LEARN THE BASICS
Take some time to learn the basics of using Manual mode. Cameras and mobile phones have the ability to shoot in manual mode which is so useful.
I’ll give you a quick explanation of the 3 essentials you need to learn.
THE EXPOSURE TRIANGLE
This is the sensitivity of your camera sensor.
The higher the ISO number the brighter your image will get.
You should aim to keep your ISO as low as you possibly can as the higher the number the more noise (grain) will happen in your images.
On my mobile it starts at 50 and goes to 3200, professional cameras can go way higher than that.
This is how long your shutter remains open for to let a certain amount of light in.
It can determine how much movement you want in your images. A faster shutter speed will freeze the frame quicker so there will be no motion blur in the images with moving subjects. A slower shutter speed will stay open for a longer time therefore there will be time for motion blur to happen with moving subjects and will let more light in.
In basic terms, the larger the aperture, the bigger the lens hole opens to let more light in and the lower the number is.
A high aperture is F1.2 which means the hole is wide open to let lots of light in.
A smaller aperture is F16 which means the hole is smaller so there is a lot less light that travels through.
ALL THREE OF THE ABOVE need to work together to get the correct exposure balance.
For instance, Say I am shooting a portrait of someone outside on a sunny day.
I know I want a larger aperture to create more depth and isolate the subject from it’s surroundings so I want to shoot at F1.4. But to make sure the image won’t be TOO overexposed I need to compensate by using a FASTER SHUTTER SPEED to let less light in. I could then shoot at 1/4000 and keep the ISO as low as possible which will be 100.
That explains the exposure triangle, you can now try manual mode yourself!
PUT GRID ASSIST ON
Most, if not all, smart phones and cameras have this feature now and it can be really useful if you’re not used to composition or ‘the rule of thirds’.
If you turn this grid on it will be easier to see where you can place your subject so it will be pleasing to the eye.
The idea is to place your subject within the grid squares or intersection points and the horizon line on the top or bottom horizontal line.
This just helps you get a better idea of composition if you’re new to it.
FOCUS ON A SUBJECT
It is best when taking any photo to focus on a certain subject. It doesn’t have to Be a moving subject it can be anything, it just makes a better photo when you draw someone’s eye to a certain subject in the image.
EXPOSE FOR THE HIGHLIGHTS
Try to expose for the lightest part of your image. Say you’re taking a photo of someone and their face is the brightest part of the image, expose for their face. You don’t want it blown out.
STRAIGHTEN YOUR IMAGE
The thing that annoys me the most is seeing an image that isn’t straight. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t take a straight image to save my life! So I have to straighten it up in post which makes such a difference. Focus on the horizon line in the background and just straighten that line up.
HAVE AN IDEA BEFORE SHOOTING
Before a photoshoot or even if you want to take a few self-portraits you should always have some sort of idea in your head of what you want to achieve. Even if you decide to change your plan half way through it’s still good to plan a little bit so you know what to aim for.
Try to take a photo of something that you have seen many times before in a totally different perspective to what you normally see it in. You will be amazed at how much you learn doing this and how different you can make something look so quickly. Try to make people think about a photo when you show it to them, make them think how you could have achieved that image.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF LIGHT
Always experiment with light! It’s fun and you can learn so much! Try shooting outdoors at sunset, sunrise, mid-day so you can learn how to tackle that harsh sun. Try to use artificial light and make it look natural, light is KEY to creating a great image. If the lighting is rubbish then it’s not going to be a good photo.
PHOTOGRAPH THE MUNDANE
One way I learnt quickly was literally photographing everything and everyone. I would be taking photos of pegs on a clothesline, fruit, my friends and family, my pets, self portraits, EVERYTHING. Try and make boring everyday objects look interesting and eye catching. You can do it, just practice.
LEARN BASIC EDITING SKILLS
Take some time to learn basic editing skills. Lightroom is great for that, either the desktop app or Mobile app. The mobile app is free. You can learn some basic editing skills to enhance your images or even purchase some presets that you like the look of to give your images a bit of punch. Shameless plug here ‘My mobile lightroom presets’ are for sale in my shop.
There you go! Now you instantly know how to up your photography game! Now take some photos and have fun!