Here are 10 tips for better photography regardless of whether you’re shooting film or digital images:
- Read your camera manual (a couple of times).
- Shoot lots (hundreds) of practice photos at home.
- Blurry images are often caused by camera shake. Set your shutter speed to match your lens size.*
- Use a tripod (or brace the camera) to take images in low light.**
- Get closer to your subjects. Either zoom in or walk in to eliminate distracting backgrounds.
- Get down (or up) to eye level with your subjects.***
- Remember Kodak? Put the sun behind you.****
- Use the rule of thirds to move your subject away from dead centre and thus give your image more dynamic energy.
- Buy an external flash.*****
- Now shoot lots (and edit out your mistakes) of photos and proudly print and display them online (Check out Flickr.).
* In order to get sharp photos set your shutter speed number to match the size of the lens. For example, if you’re shooting with a 50mm lens your shutter speed should be at least 1/60 of a second. For a 18 to 200mm zoom, the shutter speed should be set no less than 1/250 of a second. If you have an imaged stabilized camera or vibration reduced lens you can get away with slower shutter speeds. Most people can handhold a camera at no less than 1/30 or 1/60 of a second.
** For situations where you either desire to shoot at less than 1/30 of a second (shutter speeds in the range of a second or two are needed to get those “flowing” water shots of rivers and waterfalls) or need to (for example photos of sunsets or photos of fireworks displays) then the only answer is to stabilize the camera. You can use a tripod (of any size. The more expense ones are more stable and long lasting.) or a bean bag or by holding the camera against a solid object (often a poor second choice).
*** I don’t like photos of children taken by adult photographers who shoot down at the little munchkins. Same goes for pets and animals in the wild. Get to eye-level and see the world in a whole new way.
**** Shooting into the light is tricky. It can wash out colour and contrast. At the very least use a lens hood to cut down on flare.
***** The pop-up or build-in flash is only good out to about six feet (if that). A bigger flash can bang out a blast to 20 or 30 feet. Better still it will allow you to bounce the flash off the ceiling or into a photographic umbrella (if you’re serious about doing portraits). Some flashes (Nikon is one) can be used off the camera and controlled by the camera’s own pop-up flash.