Monday 6 April 2009

Keep the camera Steady

few things are more annoying than a great shot which is just a little bit blurry. this can happen for a number of reasons, most often because the camera was moving. it's hard to keep a camera still, and the bigger the lens you've got on the front, the harder it is.
this, combined with the fact that the faster the shutter speed, the less it matters that the camera may be moving, leads to the familiar rule of thumb for when you are hand-holding a shot:
  • shutter speed should be at least as great as focal length
i.e. if you have a 200mm lens, you should use a shutter speed of 1 200th of a second or faster.
if you have a zoom lens which goes up to 200mm, you should still set the shutter to 1/200 or faster.

some lenses and some cameras have stabilisation mechanisms which claim to allow you to shoot at lower speeds. in general, these seem to work, but it's still good to bear the rule in mind.

following this rule will give you a good safety margin.

check your shutter speed just before you take the shot.

Monday 30 March 2009

Bigger is Better

when you see a photograph, it's generally true that the larger it is, the better it appears. This gives rise to a printing tip:
  • when printing a photo, print it at the biggest size that is practical
but that's not all. the same principle works inside the photo, too, so:
  • when taking a photo, try making the subject fill the frame as much as possible
this catches the attention of the viewer, removes clutter and emphasises the subject.
so try this next time you take the shot.

Monday 23 March 2009

Use a small Bag

i find that the larger a bag is, the less likely i am to pick it up and take it with me everywhere i go.
for this reason, i get the smallest camera bag that can hold the equipment i don't want to be without, and keep my camera, lenses and assorted "go anywhere" junk in that one bag.

the bag i use is the lowpro slingshot 100

i can't help but notice how much it's gone down in price since i bought mine, so i'm guessing that it's popular.

i could use a larger bag which would hold all my lenses, all my gadgets, and has room to strap my tripod on the outside, but i would never use it. then i would never have my camera with me, and i would never be able to take the shot.

Monday 16 March 2009

Read a Book

here is a book which has really helped me.

scott kelby's digital photography book

it is simple, straightforward and contains stuff you can immediately put into practice.

Monday 9 March 2009

Use manual Focus

although your camera can focus very well, there are times when manual focus is best.
principally, this will be for:
  • macro photography
  • a subject moving too quickly for autofocus

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Use Autofocus

your camera's built-in autofocus can usually do a much better job than you can (especially if your eyes are - let's say: older).

read your camera's manual, and learn how to control where it will focus. this usually involves a focus point: a dot in the viewfinder which shows exactly where on the image the camera will try to focus. on most cameras, you can point the selected focus point at the subject, hold the shutter release button half way down, then recompose the image while the camera will not refocus.

this means you don't have to focus and compose at the same time. you can focus, then compose, then take the shot.

Saturday 28 February 2009

Shooting in the Dark

when shooting in (really) low light, try this:

  • put your subject between you and the light source
  • if possible, pose the subject to get an interesting silhouette
  • whack up the ISO as high as it will go
  • steady the camera on a tripod / firm surface / whatever
  • take the shot!

the high ISO will introduce texture in the form of noise, so this technique gives you the possibility of getting a shot when there really isn't enough light.

consider introducing motion in the subject (experiment).

there is a every chance that this picture won't come out as a masterpiece, but we're talking about a situation where you have very few options (unless you're going to use flash), so why not take a chance, and ... take the shot!

Friday 27 February 2009

Ideas and Inspiration

my previous post suggested some simple ways to get ideas, inspiration and instruction.

now, you might think that "ideas" and "inspiration" are pretty much the same thing.
they aren't:

ideas are creative building blocks.
things like "ooh i could get the model to stand on her head!" (good luck with that, by the way).

on the other hand, inspiration is much harder to get hold of.

to be inspired means to be given a reason to do something.
you might feel inspired to make a picture of a model standing on her head, but that will only happen because you can somehow see a great picture waiting to be created.

ideas are for the mind
inspiration is for the heart

we need both.
go forth and seek them both out, and ... take the shot!

Thursday 26 February 2009

Listen to a Podcast

this is on the theme of getting ideas, insipiration and instruction.

i listen to TWIP (this week in photograpy), which can be found on the TWIP blog at

but you could:
  • follow an individual photographer whose work you admire - or one whose work you hate
  • join a mailing list
  • make a weekly visit to your nearest art gallery
  • join a photo club
  • read a glossy magazine which has a good photographic reputation

i like just sitting at my desk and clicking "download" once a week, so the podcast works for me, and i do the other things occasionally.
it might work for you, too.

finally: there is no point sitting around listenning to podcasts and reading blogs if you don't get out and ... take the shot!

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Take the Shot (first post)

the best single tip I have to offer is this:

  • take the shot!

if in doubt, press that button.

that's it.

if you don't take the shot, I can guarantee that you won't get a great picture.
if you do take the shot, well ... who knows?