Five Photography Tips for Amateur Photographers

I’m sure each and everyone of us were pretty excited when we first got our DSLR. I mean, who’s not right. And the next thing most of us will do is – start abusing the shutter and snapping non-stop. That’s just how we learn.

Photography is a beautiful form of art with no hard rules. It’s all about creativity and individual style. And that’s what makes it so interesting. There are lots of tips and tricks to be learnt, and certainly lots of experiences to be gain before one becomes an expert. If you are new to photography, here are five ways to create cool photos to impress your friends.

1. Long Shutter Photography

Long shutter photographs are always amazing. While playing with the shutter speed, you can come up with super amazing photographs beyond your expectations. And the specialty of long shutter photographs are that they present the world around you in a unique way like you’re never seen before. To get a feel of what exactly it is, have a look at the following examples.

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So, you got a rough idea on what exactly is long shutter photography. Now, how to take them?

Technique

To take amazing long shutter photographs, you have to first learn and completely understand what exactly Shutter Speed is. Shutter speed for a camera is for the time the light sensitive film is exposed to the light outside. Getting back to shutter speed, camera metering instruments measure them in a range of reciprocal of time. Eg: 1/30, 1/500, 1/1500 sec. etc.

These are the time for which your shutter will be open while taking a particular photograph. Higher the shutter speed, you’ll have to handle the camera well to avoid any jerk as a slight jerk in this setting can ruin your photograph. For this, use of a tripod is recommended. Some cameras have bulb mode that enables you to let your shutter open as long as you keep the button pressed.

2. custom bokeh shapes

According to Wikipedia, the definition of bokeh is:

"In photography, bokeh is the blur, or the aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image, or “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”

Bokeh is a word derived from Japanese, which means “blur” or “haze”, or boke-aji, the “blur quality”. The Japanese term bokeh is also used in the sense of a mental haze or senility.

Without a doubt, bokeh is one of the most interesting and sort after thing in digital photography. And it’s indeed evident from the following photographs.

Examples (Bokeh)

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Technique

By default, bokeh shapes are only circular in shape (owing to the fact that the shape of your lens is circular). But can we also make custom bokeh shapes? Well, yes that’s possible and for that you need the following:

  1. Camera lens (preferbly large aperture),
  2. Cardboard sheet
  3. Some duct tape.

To start with, draw any shape which you want in the middle of the cardboard sheet and cut that portion out. Next, wrap the remaining cardboard sheet around your camera lens carefully and with little practice.


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Start shooting something and you’ll noticed your bokeh will have the shape just like the one on the cardboard. Here are some beautiful custom bokeh to inspire you.

Examples (Custom Bokeh)


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Further Reading

3. High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography

HDR stand for High Dynamic Range photography. Normally, even our natural vision is incapable of seeing all the dynamic ranges in any photographs. So, HDR is more of a post processing trick rather than a photography trick. Nevertheless, following photographs show what we’re talking about.

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Exiting, isn’t it? Watching these amazing HDR, you must be thinking would you be able to take such photographs ever? And the answer is, you’ll be able to do that in the next five minutes. But for that, you have to first understand the exposure bracketing language that your camera understands.

Technique

Most cameras understand the exposure of images in bracketing measures which normally range from (-2) to (+2) stop (both being the extreme ends of exposure respectively). In simpler terms, a photograph shot at (-2) exposure bracketing will be under-exposed and the one shot at (+2) exposure bracketing will be over exposed.

Ok. Now you have the idea what exactly does exposure bracketing means. Bring out your camera and click three shots of the same subject in three exposure brackets viz:

  • First shot at (-2) stops.
  • Second shot at (0) stops.
  • Third shot at (+2) stops.

As I already told you, HDR is more of a post processing trick than being a photography trick, you’ll need a software to merge and level the three photographs you just took. If you have Photoshop with you, it will work fine. If not, there is a special and dedicated software for HDR image processing and is called PhotoMatrix. You can just download the software and merge the above three photographs you took. A little bit of channel tuning and color correction, and you’ll have your first HDR photograph ready.

Further Reading

More HDR photos:

4. Burst Zoom Photography

Burst zoom is a very interesting trick in digital photography. Everyone knows what is a zoom (there are two of them, optical and digital) and any kind of zoom just does one thing, makes distance objects appear nearer to you so that you can catch more of the subject in focus than the surroundings. But burst zoom is a very interesting trick that may take quite some time to practice and master. To get an idea, check out the photos below.

Examples


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Technique

With these amazing examples, it is evident that not always a sharp and crystal clear image is required and sometimes adding a good amount of blur and burst makes the photograph stand out from the rest. Getting back to the burst zoom technique, to be able to take burst zoom photographs you have to follow the following steps:

  1. Set your camera to slow shutter speed and a wide aperture.
  2. Try to shoot in manual mode.
  3. Get ready for the action

Now, the execution part comes in. As you’ve already set your camera up in manual mode with slow shutter, you’ll get plenty of time to execute the burst zoom. To do that, as soon as you press the button to take photograph, zoom your lens quickly to the subject and get back. This should be done in a split second otherwise you won’t get the desired effect. If you’ve done everything right, you’ll be very happy to see the results.

5. High Speed Photography

Who doesn’t like action? But when it comes to capturing the action in your camera, you need to know certain tricks of trade or you’ll end up with only blurry and out of focus photographs. As a matter of fact, the high speed photography also requires a good amount of knowledge about shutter speed, camera aperture and ISO settings so that you are able to get the desired shots. Here are some examples.

Examples


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Technique

High speed photography can be categorized in different categories like:

But all these have one thing in common, the high shutter speed involved. As I’ve already explained you above what exactly shutter speed is, you’ll not face much trouble figuring this one out. To get started with high speed photography you just have to:

  1. Choose your action subject (or set the stage up if you’re going for macro high speed photography)
  2. Set your camera to a high shutter speed
  3. Set a higher ISO (not too high otherwise you’ll end up with grainy pics)

Well, that’s with the settings and now you’re good to go to capture the action. Just go out in the wild and capture everything that appears to be moving. After some amount of practice, you could be a high speed photography expert.

More high speed photography photos:

Author:

Rishabh is an Engineering student from India. He's also a passionate photographer and a web designer. He writes about technology on his blog, TechyLabs, and about photography on ShutterSkills. Follow him on Twitter.

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