Spring break is just around the corner. Whether you’re traveling to Florida or chilling at home, spring is a great opportunity to get outdoors and practice some photography. I rounded up some advice to help you take pictures like a pro.
Let’s start with the technical before we get to the fun stuff. Here are basic camera tips to keep in mind when shooting.
Imagine a tic-tac-toe chart on your picture and position the subject in the frame. You can set up a rule of thirds grid on your camera screen by looking under the settings menu.
pcmag.com: “Try and align the subject of your photo along these lines and intersections and imagine the main image divided over these nine boxes. This gives you a more dramatic, visually interesting shot than one where you subject is located dead center.”
2. Play with Shooting Modes and Settings
Digital cameras come with many different shooting modes. My point-and-shoot includes program, manual, EXR (extended range), and specialty effects like black and white.
pcmag.com: “If you’re a D-SLR shooter, you’re more likely to use the A or S modes, while point-and-shoot cameras will often feature more specific modes that cater to activities like sports, low-light use, or landscape shooting.”
Be aware of where your light source is and how much of it there is. Natural lighting is always more desirable than indoor. When outdoors, don’t take a picture with a person with the sun behind them, it will shadow their face.
pcmag.com: “If you’re grabbing a photo in front of a monument or landmark and don’t have the flexibility to adjust your position you can use the camera’s flash to fill in shadows. You may have to manually activate the flash, as there’s a good chance that the camera will think that it’s unnecessary on a bright day.”
4. To Flash or Not to Flash
As said before, flash helps fill in shadows. When using flash, back up and zoom in for balanced framing. You can manually adjust the strength of the flash as well.
pcmag.com: “If things are still too bright—or too dark—check and see if flash compensation is an option. Many cameras allow you to adjust the power of the flash, which can help to add better balance to your flash-assisted photos.”
5. Tripods are a Big Plus
digital-photography-school.com: “They [tripods] help eliminate camera shake, enable you to use slower shutters speeds which in turn means you have the ability to choose a wider range of aperture – which opens up all kinds of interesting and creative possibilities.
For point-and-shoot, I recommend a GorillaPod (http://joby.com/gorillapod/original/). I own one very similar to the Joby brand, and like that it can bend into different shapes and fits in a small bag.
Now for the fun stuff: composition and subject. You’ll have not shortage of interesting subjects on your trip. Read on to for tips on how to capture amazing travel photos.
6. Use Morning and Evening Light
Avoid midday light. It creates harsh shadows and washes out the subject. Morning and evening lighting is softer and creates radiant images.
digitalcameraworld.com: “In the so-called ‘magic hour’ – when the sun is just above the horizon, either in the morning or evening – scenes are illuminated with a wonderful warm, golden glow.”
7. Focus on the Subject’s Eyes
cnet.com: “That’s the first place your audience will look. So long as they’re in focus, they’ll consider the whole image to be accurately shot, no matter how shallow your depth of field and how blurred the rest of the frame.”
When you’re photographing multiple people, hold the shutter button down halfway and focus on one person. While still holding the button, center the focus between people, and then take the picture.
8. Think Details Rather than Big Picture
Most likely, you’ll remember the big attractions; photograph things stand out to you and that you want to remember.
cnet.com: “When a scene is simply too big to fit in your picture without it getting uncomfortably close to the edge of the frame, focus instead on one of the details that makes it unique. An abstract crop can often have greater impact and give a more original view of a tired, over-used view we’ve all seen before.”
9. Don’t Let Rain Hold You Back!
Overcast lighting is sometimes better than sunny days. Grab your rain slicker and boots, and use the rain to your advantage.
cnet.com: “The rain is as much a part of the story of your holiday as the food you ate and the sights you saw. Use reflections wherever possible for a different take on otherwise well-known scenes.”
10. Include Action
This is a picture of me at the beach. This is a picture of me next to a moose sculpture. This is a picture of me with my melting ice cream cone. Snore fest. You can do better than that!
digitalcameraworld.com: “Show off a beautiful location by having a person actively doing something within the scene, such as walking along a beach.”
11. Change your Angle
A new perspective adds interest to your photos. Don’t be afraid to bend down, get your knees a little dirty, or lie on the ground (preferably not in the middle of the street, though).
digitalcameralworld.com: “Don’t shoot everything from eye-level; try moving the camera higher or lower. Images from a bird’s eye view can make a refreshing change.”
12. Try Sun Flare
Sun flare is when sun rays reflect in the picture. It gives photos a beautiful natural quality.
digitalcameraworld.com: “Shoot into the sun with a wide-angle lens and stop down to at least f/16 to create a natural sunburst for a dramatic image. Try placing the sun just peeking out from behind a tree or other interesting subjects.
Some parting advice…
Experimenting is the best way to learn. Not every picture will look like an Ansel Adams, so learn what you did right from the good ones.
Remember, don’t spend all your time behind the camera. Fully experience your surroundings, let photos be a supplement, and, for goodness sake, have fun!
What is the best photography tip you’ve learned recently?