Before we begin, please make sure you don’t miss the post for The Cottage Home pattern! Adorable pattern giveaway!!! Also, don’t forget about the Bounce Bar Review and Giveaway. Whoosh, this week is busy!
I’ve known our next Photography Week guest for many, many years now. She actually moved in right across the street from me during my teenage years and I have lots of fun memories from those years. She is such a cool person and I look up to her a lot!
I’ve been keeping up on her life through her blogging and photography ventures, and she now blogs at This Little Life of Mine. She takes wonderful photos that I love to look at. She is also a very inspiring mother and her blog is full of great ideas for children!
Take it away, Lori!
Thanks for inviting me to write a post for “Photography Week” Christie. I am honored!
I have had my Canon Rebel Xsi for almost exactly three years. I feel like I am just getting to a point where I feel pretty confident with my camera, but I still have a long way to go! (Don’t be discouraged!:) I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey so far. One of the things I love about photography is that you can look back on pictures you took in the past and see how you have improved. Don’t forget to do that once in a while!
I have put together a list of “Ten Things To Try” for DSLR beginners. These are some of the things that I do, or have done to get the results that I want from my camera. They’re pretty basic, but hopefully you’ll find some of them helpful. (I’m not saying they are all technically correct, this is just what works for me.:)
Not saying it’s right or wrong, this is just what I do.
1. Learn the rules
- Read the manual and then read it again, and again. I promise you’ll learn something new every time, or remember something you had forgotten since reading the manual the first time.:)
- Take a trip to your local library. Understanding Exposure is a great book to start with.
- Attend a workshop. In 2009 I attended one of Nicole Hill’s Saturday workshops (I’m not sure if she still offers them). I am a visual/hands-on learner and this workshop was exactly what I needed to solidify all of the information I had been reading.
2. Break the rules
I specifically remember being taught that you shouldn’t set your ISO higher than 400 to avoid having a lot of grain in your images. For almost two years I never adjusted my ISO higher than 400! This spring I must have been feeling rebellious because I set my ISO to 800 (as high as it will go) when taking the two pics above. I love these pictures and I am so glad that I “broke the rules” in order to capture them.
These pictures were taken in front of 3 large windows. My camera was not metering the light the way I wanted (He was showing up as a silhouette) so I adjusted my shutter speed and aperture until I got the results I wanted, even though according to the camera meter they were incorrect. The pictures aren’t perfect, but I was able to manipulate the settings enough to capture a fun moment with my son.
3. Shoot in RAW
These photos have not been edited (the originals are on my parent’s computer), but if I were to edit them I would get very natural results because they were captured in RAW format. The files take up more space, but I really think they’re worth it. I have a 16GB memory card and never have to worry about running out of space on it.
4. Use manual mode most of the time
If you are having a hard time getting your settings right, don’t miss your opportunity, just switch over to auto. It’s better to capture the moment in auto mode then to miss it all together because you’re trying to find the perfect exposure.
5. Find the right light
When taking pictures inside shoot where you have the most natural light, near a window! Try turning off all other lights in the room. If you have enough natural light this is a great way to avoid white-balance issues.
Also, make note of the time of day when you get the most natural light in your house and try to shoot during that time if possible.
6. Shoot wide open
If you like a lot of light in your images and a more shallow depth of field (blur aka bokeh in the background) set your aperture as low as it will go. This opens your lens up to let in as much light as possible. I shoot wide open at least 75% of the time.
This is a great affordable lens for beginners who want to capture better indoor photos. The aperture goes down to 1.8. The kit lens that came with my camera only goes down to 4.6.
7. Remove the clutter
Simplifying the background makes for a much cleaner shot. Remove clutter physically before you take a picture (i.e. the random toy or pair of shoes in the background). Another thing you can do to get a clean shot is throw a sheet up in the background or on the floor. In the picture above I had my son sit on a white foam board next to a window to do his craft project so that I could get some nice pictures of it.
8. Use your center focus point
The easiest way to go from the picture on the left to the picture on the right is to set your focus points to the single center point. (I shoot this way 85% of the time) Get the part you want in focus (hold the shutter button down halfway) and then recompose your shot. If you have a hard time getting the part you want in focus try turning off the auto focus on your lens and adjusting it manually.
(Note that when you are photographing a group you will want to use all of your focus points so that you can get everyone in focus. I always kick myself when I forgot to adjust my focus points before taking a group shot!)
9. Shoot from different perspectives
Try shooting your subject from every angle and perspective. You can tell a completely different story just by changing your focus, standing back, getting up close etc. If you have more than one lens, switch it up! It is fun to see how differently a photo turns out when taken with tow different lenses.
10. Play with your shutter speed
Low light situations are a great time to play with your shutter speed. Try turning off your flash and experiment with different shutter speed settings. Setting your camera on a steady surface or tripod and using the timer is extremely helpful when shooting at a low shutter speed, although I did take the two shots above with my camera in hand. (break the rules!;) I can’t wait to photograph our Christmas tree this year!
Practice, Practice, Practice
I saw these pretty flowers at Costco one day and thought they would be fun to photograph. I set them up on a white foam board on my bed (best window light) with a polka dot file folder as the background. I took picture after picture while experimenting with my camera settings. (Note the difference between the dots in the two pictures above.)
Even if you are photographing a rock, you can learn something new! Try different locations at different times of day. Take a lot of pictures and don’t feel bad if they look like your three your old took them! The great thing about digital cameras is that you can take as many pictures as you want without any cost. Yes, you will delete most of them (but not until you see them up on your computer screen, because your camera’s screen is too small to really tell what you’ve got.) It is not about the photos, but about the skills you are developing. Before you know it will be about the photos because you will be happy with the results you’re producing.
Such fresh pictures! Aren’t they great? And amazing tips that are so useful! Thanks so much for posting today, Lori!