Photography Basics: 5 Tips to Being a Better Photographer

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So you bought a new DLSR camera, you've got a bunch of cute kids that you want to take pictures of, and now you have to learn how to use that camera!  There's a lot to learn but take a deep breath... Adam's got a few tips to help you start your journey to become a better photographer.  Here you go:

  1. Auto Mode does everything OK.
    • The photos you take in auto mode will be fine and I know it's the easy way out, but with a little bit of work, you really can step up your photography game! 
  2. Learn Aperture Priority & ISO
    • Shift your camera from Auto to Av mode.  Here, you have control over Aperture and ISO and the camera will figure out the best shutter speed.
    • For portraits, open up your aperture to create a shallow depth of field (These are the shots where your subject is in focus but the background is blurred out).  Remember, big opening = small f-stop number, like f4 or f2.8(that's the aperture number). 
    • In low light situations, try a high ISO (3200 or 6400).  Standard light conditions 800 ISO is safe.  Sunny day, 100 ISO.
  3. Pay Attention to Light
    • First off, I could devote a whole textbook to this, but I'll try to leave you with one good tip to get you started.
    • Whoever told you that the sun should be at your back when taking a photo, told you wrong.  I always prefer to shoot into shadows from 9am-4pm, which means the sun is at the back of your subject. Try direct light (sun at photographer's back) only at sunrise & sunset.
    • When indoors, pay attention to light spilling in from windows and use that light.  Remember, north facing windows will provide softer light (like a soft box).  South facing windows may be harsh light.
  4. Learn How to Focus
    • Hold the shutter down half-way to focus.
    • Once you feel confident in this, learn the difference between one-shot (portrait, non-moving subject) and AI Servo (movement, like a 3 year old going down a slide).
    • In one-shot, you can focus first, then, while holding your finger half way, you can compose and then take the photo.  Works great if your subject isn't moving.
    • In AI Servo, press the shutter half way down and keep your focus point on the moving subject.  Your lens will continue to focus on that subject while they are moving.  When you are ready for the shot, just push that button!
  5. Finally... my best advice is to come and take our Intro to Photography Class
    • It's best to learn with others in a smaller group setting with an instructor who is knowledgeable, experienced, fun and in a setting that allows you to practice with your camera.  We'll be offering classes throughout the year here at CTPS so you can sign up for the next class here, or you can sign up below for our mailing list to be notified about upcoming classes and specials!

Good Luck! 


Settings for Featured Photo:

Shot in Av Mode (Aperture Priority)


1/2000 sec

ISO 1250

Natural Light, Rim Lit w/sun