Monday, August 17, 2015

Things I've Learned // About Photography

I'm not a professional photographer nor do I claim to be. But I've learned many useful tips since I started working with my camera and I want to share them with you. Many of these are so simple but can make such a dramatic change in your photos!

...practice, practice, practice. Seriously, you have to practice. You can't wake up one day and think: "Ya know, I'm in the mood to become a professional photographer. Let's do this!" and then expect your first photoshoot to be full of fabulous, professional grade photographs. I know this is common sense to many, but it was one of my biggest struggles early on. I just wasn't producing the photos I wanted and almost gave up so.many.times. But I didn't and you shouldn't either! Just keep practicing!

...shoot manual. Okay. This is a biggie. If you have a dSLR and the capability to do so-please shoot your photos manual. You can look at the first lesson again because you'll need to (practice). It took me a long time to get comfortable with creating my own settings, but I'm soo thankful I stuck with it. It makes such a difference in your photography and you are in complete control. In Auto, where I was for many years, you are allowing the camera to make the decisions for you. Sometimes, it's helpful. Most of the time, it's not. I've used many resources, but the absolute most helpful was ShootFlyShoot. Their class is not free but it's the most helpful I've used and they break things down in a way you can understand. I highly recommend them! (And no, this post is not sponsored by them. Their video classes were just very helpful.)

...always take a practice shot and review it to ensure your settings are optimal. Again, seems like common sense, but I have ended up taking a whole series of poor quality shots because I thought my settings were good. I like to really take a look at my first photo before continuing to shoot so I can see what I need to change and what is good. 
The picture on the left is way too bright, but this was right after I started and I had NO idea what I was doing. The picture on the right is from last month and it is much better.

...take shots from different angles and perspectives. Yeah, you'll probably also need a big memory card. I tend to take waay too many, but it's always better to have more than enough than not enough. Get creative too: just because something isn't from the usual angle doesn't mean it can't produce a stunning picture.
Never take just one photo. Of anything. That's my motto, anyway.
...invest in a 50 mm prime lens. I currently only have (3) lenses, one of which is my 18-55mm kit lens. The best lens I own by far is my 50mm prime lens. I love it! I even got the most inexpensive one here. That one is Canon but I'm sure Nikon has an equally impressive lens at a reasonable price as well. You can achieve an amazingly shallow depth of field (when you get that fancy shot where one thing is sharply in focus and the rest is blurred, haha) Most of my favorite photographs I've shot were with this lens. 

...use natural light when available. Natural light is literally the best light. The very best photographs I have shot all have at least one thing in common. Natural Light. So why does this make such a difference? I'm not going to get very detailed here, because this isn't a photography class, but first of all: think of the title. Natural light. Obviously, it's going to look better because it's natural. Secondly, it allows you to use a lower ISO than artificial light. Like I said, not getting crazy detailed here, but the lower ISO you use, the less grainy your image is, so the better your final result. These were shot with natural light and the use of a reflector.

...shoot RAW, if you have a program that allows you to edit RAW. I've heard different opinions on this, but if you have Lightroom or something similar, I'd suggest you shoot RAW. I've had many pictures that I greatly enhanced by changing the white balance in Lightroom and you can't do that with a JPG image.

And I'm going to stop here. Although I can think of many, many other things to share...perhaps one day I will do a part two. Haha. 
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1 lovely notes:

Elizabeth Roy said...

I'm a total photography noob (I'm still exploring the world of iphonography, let alone figure out how to operate a DSLR camera), and I found this post so helpful and accessible. Thank you for sharing, Jessica!

- Liz @ Downtown Demure