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Snapshot or Photo
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Pro Tips
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Pro Tips

Notes and Tips

Here are a few a photography tips that I have found helpful in making a photograph be something more than just a snapshot.  Photography is the art of making an image using light. This art requires technical skills that let the photographer control that light in a way that creates an image that looks the way the artist wants it to look. Exposure and composition are the primary tools of the photographer and they are managed with a camera and light sensitive materials such as film or digital media. The key to good photography starts with the selection of the subject. Once the subject is chosen then the photographic treatment of that subject kicks into play. Treatment works with exposure, composition, lighting, camera angle and a host of other choices a photographer can make. Here is a tip for one of those choices. 

Moving Water Shots

Water looks better if it has a motion blur to it. Take a look at these shots.

Moving WaterThis is a photograph of a water fall in California land at Disneyland. Water looks best if it is displayed with a motion blur as you see here. The camera was held firmly against my chest; held my breath and slowsly squeezed the shutter using a shutter speed set in Tv or shutter priority mode of 1/30th second. A faster shutter could have been used because there was enough light to do that in AUTO mode but I chose the low shutter speed to allow for the blur. A fast shutter will eliminate the motion of the water which will make it less exciting. Water is clear so capturing it with no blur causes it to disappear or become less dominant in the composition.

One of the problems of digital photography and the point-n-shoot cameras on the market is they let the photographer work so quickly that they avoid thinking about what the shot will actually look like when it is viewed later. Next time you come to moving water think about a way to get the water to look like it is moving. Use your shutter. Take several pictures or look at the review of the photo to see if it has enough motion. It only takes a second to adjust the camera if you know where the controls are.

Photo Tips - Making a Good Photograph


There are a lot of things that can be said to a new photographer on how to take good pictures.  In general here are a few things that we tell students at SCHS in what it takes to make a real photograph stand out from a simple snap shot.

(1) Have a strong Center of Interest in you photograph. This is the reason for taking the photo. Get as close as you can to include only what is needed in the final frame.  Too often photographs have extra stuff in the frame that distracts from the Center of Interest.

(2) Hold the camera steady and release the shutter carefully to avoid camera shake or vibration which leads to unsharp pictures. Use as high of a shutter speed as possible to reduce the effects of camera shake.  In general if you are using a 50mm lens on your camera you should never go below 1/60th of a second. If you have a 200 mm telephoto on your camera that low shutter changes to 1/250th of a second. Focus and sharpness are the one primary error in most photo students.

(3) Watch the background in your photo for here is where the average photo separates from the exceptional photo. Watch for clutter or from some object like a telephone pole that might appear to be growing out of the subjects head on the final photo.

(4) Be ready. That is the most basic yet most forgotten key to getting good photographs. You must have your camera with you when you see your dog sleeping with the cat on the lawn.  Be ready means having your camera in good shape, clean and with fresh batteries.   Pay attention to detail. Look at lighting and look to see if a different angle could make the subject look better.

(5) And, GET CLOSE.  Did we say that, well, get close! That is the key too good pictures. A great photo can be ruined by distracting stuff in the picture frame or by having wasted space. Next time you go to a movie or watch TV pay attention to the composition of every scene and ask yourself where the camera was in relation to the subject. Was it close or far away? Was it high - level or low? Did they get so close that some of the subject is cut off in the screen? If so why?


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