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Digital Photography Tips and Tricks

Home > Sydney > Hobbies | Photography
Published March 18th 2012

Once upon a time, I used to direct photo shoots professionally and I got on well with one of the photographers that we used. He worked as a photographer at weddings on the weekends. He had a great candid style, which was something I strived for myself in my own amateur photos.

Anyway, I can remember us standing there with our knees knocking together, scared stiff about digital photography, and how it was going to be the end of photography as we new it. Well in a way it was. He's now a gold fish trainer. I'm all out of focus.

Digital photography is bloody fantastic for me though. It's funny, I see a lot of people with digital cameras and they stand there and they focus, slowly, slowly, wait for it, click. One shot, camera back in the bag. There, all done. Maybe they are worried some one's going to half inch their camera?

This is all wrong, come on! There's no cost involved, unless you've got a small capacity card, if that's the case get a bigger one. The sky is the limit, click, click go the shears and so should your camera, just keep clicking, move around, this angle, that angle, do it all. Then, the real skill comes later, when you upload them onto your pc and dump all the crap ones.

Straight away you have improved your photography ten fold. I can give you a few other tips too. If it's a sunny day (I know, I know, have the sun behind you) yes, you are correct. But did you know, if you are shooting faces and you (have no choice but to) shoot into the sun. Use the flash, ahh you didn't know that, did you smarty. Otherwise all the faces will be in the shade, and you won't be able to make out who they are, still, if it's the outlaws, this might be preferable.

"I see the light, and it's Mr Rumpelstiltskin to you".

I often see couples, one taking a photo of the other. I always step in and offer to take a photo of both of them together. They often seem scared that I might do a legger with their camera. I flash them a winning smile, and they hand it over. (How nice my partner thinks, she's all smiles, proud of my generous nature.) What I merely meant your majesty, was they'd be grateful. I'd go click, click, click, click, try to pass on the skill that is digital photography. Secretly knowing later that day, they'd say, "gee, how come his photos are so much better than ours". "How lucky were we, to stumble across David Bailey".

Here's another tip for you all (the walrus was Paul). You are going out somewhere and when you are there, you want to get good photos. You look out the window before you leave thinking "oh no it's clouding over, maybe we shouldn't go?" Never fear this good tip is here."Get away" I hear you say. It's true, overcast, photography? Good. Sunny, photography? Not so good. This is a fact. Truer colours.

Now, one part of your photography you may not have figured out. I know a lot of you don't know this because of all the flashes I see going off at night. When something is a long way away, the flash is no good. I know you've heard how fast the speed of light is, but I'm here to tell you it's not that fast. The skill of the night shot, I'll give you one clue, tripod. The three legs you screw into the bottom of your camera.

These babies are only small, like slightly longer than a biro, that's all you need to enable you to steady your shot, and angle it for best position. These shots aren't much chop, as the depth of field is a problem and the digital camera has not focused correctly.
This isn't even sharp, you with all your boasting.

This isn't sharp either? The auto focus is on the fritz.

See, not bad huh, tripod is the magic word.

Back to the shots in the dark. The aperture pretty much works the same way as your pupil. If it's bright, the pupil constricts, it needs less light to see. It's dark and the pupil dilates, gets bigger to let more light in. So if you imagine the photo, in a conventional way, if it's dark, the shutter needs to stay open longer to let the light in. if it's bright the shutter only needs to quickly open to let enough light in.

Okay, so now, you're wondering, why, if when you take a night shot, you click, the shutter stays open longer and your picture is out of focus? This is where the tripod comes in. Your picture is not necessarily out of focus, it's actually blurred. Which means, if you haven't sussed it out already, you can't hold the camera still long enough to keep the image sharp. There are other variables of course. This is the main reason.

All you need to do is put your camera on something that doesn't move and turn the flash off and set the camera to automatic and it should give you a long exposure. Goodbye fuzzy night shots, hello neon city crisp shots.

You will be able to get good shots of the city scape at night, or the beach front. In fact anywhere there is a bit of light at night that isn't moving. This is great fun to experiment with. If you were say shooting the St Kilda sea front with the lights at Christmas, you'd set up your camera on a tripod on a wall. Compose your shot, and then? "Click" you ask, no sorry don't click. Set your timer for the shortest time. It's probably 3 seconds. Then compose the shot, then click.

Now you're talking. "How come the timer" I hear you ask? Well, when you click the camera if the shutter opens straight away, you move it a little bit and the picture would still be blurry. Once you get the hang of this, it really adds a new dimension to your photography, you start getting lovely red light squiggles that run through you're picture if a car goes past during your exposure.
Not completely sharp, this one but it gives you an idea of the squiggles. You can get much better than this.

Now, you know that you've got that banana shaped head you haven't told anyone about. Every time there's a family photo or a photo at work, you don't like to be the centre of attention so you stand at the side. You've started to notice your head is a banana shape? It must be, there it is on the photo? Take your head out of the door jamb, that won't straighten it. I've got good news for you. It's a curvature on the edge of the lens.

That's nice dear.

We used to shoot alcohol for a catalogue, this was the first time I noticed this. We'd have all the bottles side by side over the full width of the shot. Hang about those bottles have got wonky necks we were thinking? Go and get those bottles, let's have a look. No, they're all fine? The photographer came in. He explained about the curvature around the edge of the lens, and how it distorts things on the outer parameters.
Is that a pelican Mum? No dear, ask your Dad.

Since then I notice it all the time. There is a way to prevent it. You get a telephoto lens, you go further back, and have the image smaller in the shot, so it doesn't go near the edges. I don't think we bothered.

There you go, you don't need a forehead transplant after all. From now on be the centre of attention and your banana head days are over.

Depth of field, you don't have to be shooting a field. This means that where a photo has say a foreground, a background and a image you've actually focussed on in the middle ground. If they are all relatively sharp, then this is good depth of field, which usually means the lens is pretty good.

There is a deliberate effect that some photographers use were they focus in on say a face, and the background is all soft and fuzzy. Which can look great.

Macro, if you didn't know already, is close up photography of usually small things like insects for instance. You may have noticed somewhere on your camera a little flower as a symbol? This is to indicate macro. So if you saw a butterfly on a rose and you wanted a nice crisp close up, put the macro setting on.

Something else you should know, you probably find that the flash gives you horrible results, faces are all shiny and horrible flesh tones. If you look at the settings, you'll find there are other settings for the flash. Some of the other settings may get a better result. Just remember to change them back after you have finished as that setting may not be right for another shot.

Speed aperture, this isn't really a tip. With the old film, there were two ways you could shoot a racing car driving past. One was with a really fast film, and a really quick exposure, then you could get a crisp shot. You could also use a tripod with a slightly longer exposure, and you'd get a trail behind the car, you may have seen this sort of effect? I don't know how you can do either of these things with digital cameras?
Night sky.

If you go to the Grand Prix, you go to shoot a car, you find with the digital photography, you go click. Em, nice bit of wall no car, bloody digital cameras, you see the shot ,you take the shot, the digital camera, has a think about it, click, too late. It's the only thing I don't like about digital photography, but it is improving. Maybe with better cameras than I've got it would be better.

Those Kodak moments I've missed. But all the better shots I've got through the shoot, shoot, shoot, method. Try it yourself.

I am no expert, on photography, but these tips are bonafide. They maybe more for the amateur photographer, but if anyone gets something out of this article, then I have achieved what I set out to do.

Good luck and happy snapping.

Here's a site, with some more advanced tips and here is a site with professional tips, like how to know what's required to sell your shots to a stock photo library. This site looks good too.
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