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Ten Photography Tips for Beginners

Get started in photography with Venture Studios...

At Venture Studios we are passionate about photography - and want everyone else to be too! You might think that you could never be a good photographer; but you never know until you try. Everyone has to start somewhere, and there are many things that you can do to learn and improve, no matter where you are on the photography journey.

So if you are new to photography, here are ten tips to help you get moving in the right direction:

1. To have and to hold
When you are starting out in photography, it is not that important what kind of camera you have. Most DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras available today are excellent quality and perfectly adequate as a starting camera.

Just as important as the camera itself is the way you hold it. If you do not hold your camera correctly then it may shake and result in blurry images. Always hold your camera with both hands and make sure that you place one hand under the lens to support the weight of the camera. Also consider using a tripod if you are taking a series of shots from the same location.

 

2. Keep it clean
Whatever camera equipment you have, it’s really important to keep it clean. If your camera lens is dirty or smudged you will end up with blurry photos. So make sure that you clean your lens regularly and always keep a cloth and lens cleaning solution in your camera bag.

3. Take time setting up your shot
Often the planning of your shot is almost as important as actually taking it. Think what you want the end result to look like and position your shot accordingly.

In our recent article on Festival Photography we referred to “the rule of thirds”. This is an important concept for setting up a successful shot. It is based on the idea of dividing up your image into a grid with two horizontal lines and two vertical lines - think of noughts and crosses. Then position the important elements of your photograph either along the lines, or at the points where they meet, and your main subject in line with one of them.

The rule of thirds helps you to achieve a balanced shot and will ensure that you do not accidentally cut off any important parts of your subject.

4. Try different positions
When taking photographs try varying your position to get a more interesting range of shots. It’s good to get shots from different angles, heights and perspectives. So remember to move around when taking photographs. This will enable you to change the balance between foregrounds and backgrounds and also cut out of the shots anything you don’t like.

 

5. Learn your settings
The world of camera settings can seem to be a mystery. There are so many acronyms and things to remember. But it is important to learn the basics.

The main settings to learn about are aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

  • Aperture controls the amount of light coming into the camera lens
  • Shutter speed controls the length of time that light enters the camera lens
  • ISO controls your camera’s sensitivity to light

These are the three most important settings in all of photography. The combination of these settings result in what is known as the “exposure triangle”. So learn where these settings are on your camera, and experiment with different combinations to understand the way they will influence the appearance of your shots.

Also familiarise yourself with the different autofocus (AF) modes. Try using single-servo AF for stationary subjects, and continuous-servo AF for moving subjects.

6. Get the light right
The right amount of light is key to a successful photograph. You need to have a good light that is not too harsh, and a good balance of light between your subject and background. You also need to make sure that the direction of the light does not cause either shadow or glare.

If the light is not right then you either need to move the subject into good light or wait until the lighting conditions are better to get the lighting effect that you are looking for.

7. Use flash
Still on the subject of lighting, there will be times when you want to use flash - even during the day. There is a misconception that flash is just for dark environments but this is not the case. Flash can - and should - also be used outdoors in daylight. It helps to brighten up your shots and can fill in shadows on your subject.

Whether you use your camera’s built-in flash or buy an external flash for extra greater power and versatility, learn to experiment with flash for brighter photographs.

8. Filter it
Another accessory to experiment with is a filter. A filter is a glass or gelatin element that you attach onto the front of your camera. Filters have many uses in digital photography. These include polarising filters - which help to reduce glare and improve saturation - and simple UV/haze filters to provide extra protection for the front of your lens. You can also apply warming/cooling or colour filters to achieve different effects on your shots.

 

9. Make your shots editable
When taking photographs it’s important to think ahead to what you then want to do with them. If you plan to edit them, it’s best to shoot in raw mode. Raw image files are the digital equivalent of a negative: they are not directly usable as an image in themselves, but have all of the information needed to create an image. Raw files capture all the image data recorded by your camera’s sensor rather than compressing it, giving you more control in the processing phase.

To process raw files you will need to invest in some kind of photo editing software. Prices and features vary between products, but some of the more popular ones to look at are:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Lightroom
  • Affinity Photo
  • Capture One Pro
  • DxO PhotoLab
  • ON1 PhotoRaw 19
  • Alien Skin Exposure X4
  • Luminar 3.1

Whilst processing can help to perfect a shot and produce an exceptional photograph, do guard against over-processing as this can take away some of the natural feel of a photograph.

10. Never stop learning
Last but not least you need to realise that your journey as a photographer is lifelong. It will never reach its destination in the sense of you having become the all-knowing guru with nothing left to learn. There is always more you can learn, more you can do.

One important thing is to keep all your old photographs in an organised manner. Make sure that you know what is where, and also that you have all your photographs backed up somewhere: never rely on just one copy!

It’s always valuable to look back over your previous work from time to time. Old photographs can help you to identify areas to improve so that your photography just gets better and better. It can be tempting to be lazy and just work around your areas of weakness. But it’s much better to tackle those areas head on and learn how to improve.

Good luck on your photographic journey. We hope that these tips help you to get off to a flying start and that photography will become as much a passion for you as it is for us, creating #memoriesforever.

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