Achieving professional-grade photos is within reach, regardless of your level of experience. Utilize these straightforward techniques to elevate the standard of your photographs.
The rise of digital photography has made capturing moments more accessible than ever before. With an abundance of opportunities to snap and share pictures online, it’s no surprise that the number of photographs taken has skyrocketed. However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of attributing poor image quality to one’s equipment, rather than honing one’s technique. By adhering to a few basic principles, one can elevate the standard of their photography without breaking the bank on new equipment. Incorporate these 10 simple strategies into your next photography session, and take your snapshots to the next level. And for those with their own tips for producing exceptional photographs,
1. Master the Fundamentals of Composition
Composition is the foundation of any great photograph. The Rule of Thirds is a simple yet effective guideline to keep in mind. This principle suggests dividing the frame into nine equal sections, with the subject of the photograph placed along the intersecting lines or at the points where they meet. This creates a more dynamic and aesthetically pleasing image compared to centering the subject. Many cameras and smartphones have the option to enable a rule-of-thirds grid overlay when capturing the image. This can be a useful tool for those just starting to explore composition in their photography.
2. Alter Exposure Adjustment
When not captured in manual mode, your digital camera automatically adjusts the exposure of an image, influencing its brightness or darkness. Typically, the camera evaluates the scene and calculates the ideal exposure based on the standard lighting of a gray card. This is the reason why there are specific modes for capturing scenes in snow, as the camera would otherwise attempt to neutralize the white snow’s color.
If an image appears too bright or too dim, you can either explore the various scene modes offered in current point-and-shoot cameras or adjust the exposure compensation. Many cameras feature a physical button or dial for this purpose, marked by a +/- symbol. To make a photo darker, increase the scale above zero, and to make it lighter, decrease it slightly.
3. Select an Appropriate Capture Mode
Most cameras come equipped with numerous capture modes, from fully automatic to highly specialized scene modes. To capture fast-moving subjects, you can switch to Shutter Priority (“S” or “Tv”) mode and increase the shutter speed. Setting it to 1/125 second or faster will help to freeze motion. For extremely fast moving subjects like hummingbirds, use the shortest possible speed to freeze motion or a longer speed to add motion blur to flapping wings.
When shooting in low light conditions, you can utilize Aperture Priority (“A” or “Av”) mode to maximize the amount of light entering the lens. When capturing landscapes with a tripod, use a smaller aperture setting to increase the depth of field, ensuring everything is in sharp focus from the foreground to the background. For DSLR users, the A or S modes are commonly used, while point-and-shoot cameras often have specific modes tailored to sports, low-light, or landscape photography.
4. Consider Illumination
Be aware of the amount and direction of light when capturing your photographs. When shooting outdoors, avoid taking photos of a person with the sun behind them unless you intend to create a dramatic portrait, in which case you should adjust the exposure value positively. When taking a picture of a landmark or monument, use fills flash to balance the brightness of the backlit subject with the background to prevent overexposure. It may be necessary to manually activate the flash as the camera may not recognize the need for it on a bright day.
5. Utilize Flash Discriminately
Flash used too close to a subject can ruin an otherwise great photo. If your friends and family appear washed out in your photos, you may be too close when taking the picture. If flash is necessary, move back and zoom in to achieve the desired framing. If the photo is still too bright or too dark, check if flash compensation is an option on your camera. Many cameras allow you to adjust the flash power, which can help to create better balance in flash-assisted photos. A small amount of flash light can fill in shadows, resulting in a more natural-looking photo.
6. Modify Your Angle of View
Typically, amateur photographers and beginners take pictures while standing upright, shooting at eye level. While this works well for many subjects, it is not always the best approach. With a camera that has a tilting screen, you can easily capture shots from a low or high angle to achieve a unique perspective of your subject.
If your camera does not feature a tilting screen, consider a low-angle perspective to capture the best shots of pets and young children. Positioning the camera at their eye level creates an image that is more engaging. Digital cameras allow you to experiment without incurring additional costs, so experiment with various angles and camera positions to capture unique moments that stand out.
7. Monitor your white balance
The camera’s white balance setting automatically adjusts to the type of light in which you are shooting. Light sources emit different hues – sunlight is blue, tungsten light is yellow, and fluorescent light is green. Typically, the camera will recognize the lighting and adjust the color in the photos to appear natural.
Proper white balance is crucial for natural-looking images. If the camera is struggling to determine the correct setting, or if shooting under mixed lighting, manually set the white balance. Point-and-shoot cameras typically require access to the shooting menu, while many SLRs have a dedicated White Balance button labeled “WB.” While color can be corrected in photo editing software, it’s best to get the white balance right in camera for optimal results.
8. Use a Stabilizing Mount
To achieve the perfect shot, take your time and use a tripod. This allows for proper framing and can be useful, along with the camera’s self-timer, for capturing group shots like the one in front of Mount Rushmore. For point-and-shoot users, an affordable tripod will suffice, however, investing in a sturdier brand such as Manfrotto or MeFoto is recommended to avoid disappointment. Mirrorless and SLR users should prioritize selecting a sturdy tripod with a strong set of legs and head to hold the camera.
9. Choose wisely
With digital photography, it’s simple to snap hundreds of pictures in a short period. However, don’t just blindly upload all of them to social media. Take the time to review your shots and eliminate duplicates or those that are out of focus or poorly composed. It’s more effective to share a smaller number of exceptional photos, rather than inundating others with a large number of mediocre ones.
10. Remember to Edit Your Photos
Utilize software to manage and enhance your photos. Applications such as Apple Photos, and Microsoft Photos offer basic organization and editing options. For mobile editing, VSCO and Snapseed are great options. Simple edits such as cropping, rotating, and adjusting the brightness can significantly improve a photo’s quality. While capturing perfect shots in the camera is ideal, don’t hesitate to make adjustments post-capture.
Q: What is a poorly-taken photo?
A: A poorly-taken photo is a photo that does not meet the desired quality standards due to factors such as poor lighting, blurriness, or incorrect exposure.
Q: What are some common problems with poorly-taken photos?
A: Common problems with poorly-taken photos include poor lighting, blurriness, incorrect exposure, and bad composition.
Q: What are some ways to enhance a poorly-taken photo?
A: Enhancing a poorly-taken photo can be done using various editing software or tools such as adjusting brightness, contrast, color, and sharpness, cropping, and removing any unwanted elements.
Q: Can all poorly-taken photos be enhanced?
A: Not all poorly-taken photos can be fully enhanced, as some issues such as motion blur or poor focus cannot be completely fixed. However, there are still ways to improve the overall quality of the photo.
Q: Can a professional photographer enhance a poorly-takn photo?
A: Yes, a professional photographer has the skills and equipment to enhance a poorly-taken photo and can make significant improvements to the overall quality of the photo.
Q: How can I improve my photography skills to take better photos?
A: Improving your photography skills can be done through practice, learning the basics of composition, exposure, and lighting, and studying the work of other photographers. Taking classes or workshops, reading photography books or articles, and practicing with different camera settings can also help improve your skills.
Q: Is it possible to enhance a low-resolution photo?
A: Enhancing a low-resolution photo can be challenging as it has fewer pixels to work with. However, there are techniques such as upscaling and super-resolution that can help improve the overall quality of the photo, although it may not be able to fully restore the original details.
Q: What are the best editing software and tools for enhancing poorly-taken photos?
A: Some popular editing software and tools for enhancing poorly-taken photos are Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, and Capture One. These software are widely used by professional photographers and offer a wide range of editing tools and options.
Q: Can poorly-taken photos be salvaged for professional use?
A: While it can be difficult to salvage a poorly-taken photo for professional use, it is possible with the help of advanced editing techniques and tools. However, it is always best to try and take the best photo possible in the first place to avoid the need for extensive editing.