5 Tips For Photography Newbies

Here are five quick, essential tips for those who are new to photography.

17/05/2013 - 13:34

When out with your Pentax compact it's easy to just snap away without actually stopping and thinking about how your shots can be improved. But if you do take a few minutes to consider some basic but essential techniques, your quick snaps can be turned into something much more special.

Hold The Camera Correctly

This may seem obvious but when using the LCD screen to compose shots, as many compact users do, not having the right stance can result in your shots not appearing quite as sharp as they could be. To stop this, position your feet shoulder-width apart to give yourself a more stable base to shoot from, hold your camera quite close to your body and tuck your elbows in. Check that your fingers aren't over the lens or flash and try not to push the shutter button too hard as this can cause unwanted movement, too.

It's also worth packing a tripod, even if you are using a compact, as the added support can help prevent any blur caused by movement from spoiling your shot.

If you are working hand-held check your framing before taking your shot as wonky horizons will spoil a good landscape. Again, a tripod can help if it has a built-in spirit level but do take note that sometimes you may have to position the tripod in such a way that the spirit level says the tripod isn't straight but you can see that the horizon is.

Flash

Knowing the flash to subject distance that's best for your camera should help prevent wider, indoor shots having washed-out, bright foregrounds and dark backgrounds where detail can't really be seen. For portraits, a pop of flash can help remove shadows from under the nose etc. but as some subjects are prone to red-eye you probably want to switch to the red eye reduction mode found on many digital cameras.

Portrait

Backgrounds

As our focus is on our main subject it's easy to forget about the background which can result in unsightly items appearing in shot and objects sticking out of your subject's head. This is easily rectified by taking the time to look around the viewfinder / screen before taking your shot. You can then choose a different viewpoint, use a larger aperture to blur the background (some modes do this automatically) or simply move (if possible) the distracting element. As many compacts and bridge cameras feature long zooms, such as the Pentax X-5 with its 26x optical zoom, you can remove unwanted objects from the scene by zooming in and isolating your subject.

X-5 zoom


Focal Point And Composition

Once you know what your main focal point is remember there are various ways in which the eye can be drawn to your focus point. This includes lead-in lines, using frames, the rule of thirds etc.

You can also adjust your framing to make a more pleasing composition or fill your frame if you want to really focus on your subject.

It's also worth noting that the shutter button can be pressed half way to focus your shot. This can be used on all shots but is particularly useful when you've framed your subject so they are more to the left or right of the frame. This creates a more pleasing image but it can fool your camera into thinking they aren't your main point of focus and as a result, they'll end up blurred while another part of your shot is sharp. But if you use focus lock, this will stop this from happening.

Different modes

Compact cameras have plenty of modes that are designed to help you take the best possible shots you can as well as add a bit of creative flare to your work.

Photo effects

Auto Picture mode, found on the Pentax WG-10, for example, will automatically select the most appropriate shooting mode from 16 different scene modes. So, if you're trying to shoot close-ups of flowers, remember to switch to macro mode as this tells the camera you'll be working at close focusing distances.

Flower

Watch

If you're a landscape fan, switch to landscape mode as the camera will ensure it's using an aperture that creates good depth of field and it'll often boost the greens in your shots, too.

Take a look at Pentax User's article section for more tips and tutorials. 

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