Photography tips for beginners
The goal of this article is to share my learnings with you. I’ve made lots of mistakes throughout my journey and I’m sure I’ll be making more in the future. Making mistake is ok as long as you learn from it. My assumption here is that you know absolutely nothing about photography or fairly new to this world and still trying to figure out what ISO, shutter speed or aperture is. I won’t sugar-coat anything. You definitely got a lot to learn but hopefully the following tips will make your life a bit easier.
So here are the things I’ve learned so far:
1. Learn to see well- Remember people will only see what you show them so how you frame a scene is absolutely crucial. If certain object is not adding anything to your image then get rid of it, either physically or in post-production.
2. Try different perspective- In most cases, our eye level will be the least interesting perspective. So to make it interesting try bird’s eye view or worm’s eye view and everything in between.
3. Try various composition- Apply different compositional techniques (rule of thirds, leading lines, shapes, pattern etc) and see if you like the shot. If you’re not 100% happy with the result then don’t be afraid to break all the “rules” and go with what looks good.
4. Learn to see light- If you want to be a good photographer then you will have to learn to see light. Pick a subject for a day and shoot at different times. Maybe shoot at 6am, 9am, 12pm, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm and 12pm from the same spot. Compare all these shots right next to each other to understand how light effects the scene. Pick the one you like most and analyse it. Why do you like this shot? Do you like the soft transition between shadows and highlights or do you like the 12pm harsh light? This exercise will also help you understand how ambient light changes throughout the day.
5. Learn about your camera- ASAP. These days you’ll find lots of reviews on YouTube so watch them if you’re too lazy to read the manual. However, the manual will have everything you need to know about your camera so might be good idea to go through it at least once.
6. Learn about speed lights, flash- Once you know how light works, its time to play with it! Get a flash and a receiver, place the flash at different places to get dramatic effect on your subject.
7. Try different light modifiers and understand their impact on your subject.
8. Ensure your spare batteries are fully charged.
9. Keep extra memory cards with you.
10. Double check your camera bag before you leave the house. I always turn my camera on at least once to make sure I have battery & memory card in. Last thing you want to do is drive for 2 hours and then realise you left the memory card at home in your laptop!
11. Keep a torch/headlamp in your bag.
12. Keep some spare clothes with you. They will come in handy if your gear gets wet. I always leave a spare set of clothes & a towel in my car.
13. Keep a plastic bag to protect your gears from rain.
14. Clean your tripod after every shoot. Otherwise they’ll get rusty very soon.
15. For a long time my understanding was lowest ISO (aka Native ISO 50 or 100) in your camera will produce best result as once you start increasing ISO, you will start getting noise in your photos. So I used to leave ISO at 100, adjust shutter speed (and sometimes aperture) and take a relatively underexposed shot. Then I used to increase exposure in post-production.
This does not produce best result as your images will get more noisy once you start increasing exposure manually in post-production.
So it’s better to shoot in high ISO than increasing exposure later in post-production. Native ISO (lowest ISO in your camera) is good for bright scenes but dark scenes might call for a higher ISO.
16. Kit lenses are ok to start with but you’ll grow out of it pretty soon. They are usually not as sharp as other lenses but you should still be able to get some decent shots with kit lenses.
17. Scout the area before you start shooting. I usually get to the spot at least half an hour early.
18. Gather as much information as possible before you go out shooting. Make a list of the things you want to shoot at a certain place.
19. Pay attention to clouds. If you have a reflective foreground (i.e. water) see how that’s impacting your shot.
20. Constantly challenge yourself to be better. Don’t settle down with your current skill level as if you think you are the best then chances are you’ll get bored very soon. Check out other photographers work and be inspired.
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