#1. Get out of AUTO mode!
Don’t be the one. Please don’t be the person that goes out and buys a $1000+ DSLR camera kit only to constantly rely on the AUTO mode for your shots. If you are, stop! That beautiful camera of yours is capable of so much more. I highly recommend that anyone who finds themselves in this situation take the time to become familiar with what is known as the “photography trinity.” This “trinity” describes the way that all cameras control the amount of light in-order to get the perfect image. While a full lesson is outside the scope of this blog, I will give a brief description of camera operation and each of the three trinity elements.
All cameras work on the same basic principle. You open a small hole in the side of an otherwise sealed black box. The light that enters the black box through the pinhole then burns an image into a sensitive piece of material. Well, what happens if there is too much light entering the box and it destroys the material? Conversely, what happens if there isn’t enough to burn the material? That, my friends, is where the trinity comes in. It is a means to control the light enter your box (camera)
Shutter Speed – It is the how fast the curtain inside of your camera that covers the pinhole opens and closes to allow just the right amount of light in with respect to time.
By manipulating this setting in your camera’s “S” mode, you can create razor sharp action images by increasing your shutter speed or surreal images where stars blend together as the earth spins by slowing it down.
Aperture – This is the setting that controls the size of the opening in your sealed box. As I’m sure you can imagine, a wider opening will result in more light entering the camera and vice versa.
Manipulating this setting in your camera’s “A” mode, you can give you pinpoint control over how much of your picture is in focus and give you better results in low light situations.
ISO – ISO allows you to adjust the sensitivity of the camera’s digital sensor. The sensor is that piece of material I referred to earlier. It is the mechanism that captures your image. If you increase the ISO you will be able to capture images with faster shutter speed and/or a smaller aperture setting, BUT you will also decrease the quality of your image. You see, higher ISO settings almost always result in images that are gray and grainy.
The best tip I can give you for adjusting your ISO setting is keep it as low as possible (Below 1000). Only increase your ISO when all other efforts with shutter speed and aperture fail to provide enough light for a properly exposed image.
Don’t be afraid to try new combinations of the “trinity” just to see what comes out!
If you are serious about improving your photography, there is nothing better you can do to achieve your goal than learning about light. Take just a little time each day to study the light bouncing around the room you are in. Pay attention to highlights, shadows, and angles. Doing this will help you solve tricky lighting situations in images that you try to capture later.
Bonus: The best light that I have found for nearly every situation is soft, diffused, natural sunlight. That is light that surrounds your subject without creating harsh borders between highlights and shadow. It’s the kind of light that comes through a frosted glass window or you find in open shade on a sunny day.
Most people know this term as “Photoshopping.” It is the process of correcting images that you take inside of powerful image editing software such as, of course, Adobe Photoshop. Although, Photoshop has quite the intense learning curve for new photographers. I recommend that someone new to processing start with its lighter sibling, Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom is used more for rapid workflow processing by professionals, but its image editing tools are much less intimidating than the layers, masks, filters, and other gobble-dee-gook associated with Photoshop. If paying for complicated software isn’t your thing, check out Pixlr.com. Pixlr offers two browser-based editing options for free, Pixlr Editor and Express.
Whichever application you choose, have fun and experiment with all of the wonderful image editing tools that