December 28, 2011

#48 – The most important things to know about your camera.

Cameras are scary devices.

These little black boxes come with so many buttons, options and settings that it’s easy to get overwhelmed, flip on the “Auto” setting and hope for the best.

Truth is, it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m a professional photographer and even I don’t use half the settings on my gigantor dSLR. Instead, I use the ones that are useful to me (and to getting a great photo).

Over the past year here at Frame One, I’ve written a bunch of mini posts designed to help you get more comfortable with your camera. To me, these are the six most important. Master these (not difficult) and you’ll be well on your way to knowing and loving that chunk of photography you hold in your hands...

Megapixels and digital zooms aren’t what you should be looking for in your next camera. This post describes the four things to look for when you’re shopping.

The simple fact of point-and-shoot/mobile phone cameras is that they’re slow when you press the shutter. They take some time to grab the photo. You need to learn how your autofocus works in different situations and be ready to compensate for what it does.
I hate, hate, hate the onboard flash that comes with most cameras – and I’ve found ways around using it. Here’s my breakup letter.

Your camera’s screen is a big fat liar. What looks bright on your screen might look dark on your monitor. Want a more accurate idea of whether or not you got the shot? Trust your histogram.

Digital zoom. Auto mode. Face detection. Useless. Useless. Useless. Here’s a few more things to disable on your camera.

Those creative settings (and “Auto”) are holding back your snapshots. Here’s how to use the right ones – “P,” “Av,” “Tv/S” or “M.” 

December 18, 2011

#47 – How to instantly shoot a better photo.

That went fast.

This time last year, Frame One was really just an idea I had with a colleague. We were sitting in her boardroom and she said to me “you really should be blogging some of your photo advice.”

And here we are. 90 some-odd-posts later, a growing community (join us on Facebook!) and a whole lot of advice. Each of the numbered posts in this series is specifically designed to give you one small thing to improve in your snapshots. Takes two minutes to read, 30 seconds to do and BAM!, you’re already making better memories.

With the holidays coming up, you’re sure to be using your camera (or getting a new one!) a whole lot more. These next few posts group some of this year’s advice to give you everything you need to take better snapshots in different situations.

I’m starting with a good general primer. If you could do just five things right now with your camera, these are the five things I’d suggest you do:

If you let your camera make all the decisions for you, your camera will create ugly photos. Turn your camera to P, Av, Tv (sometimes S) or M. Get to know these settings and how to make great photos.

Most snapshots suffer from too much headroom. Zoom in on your subject for more impact.
Bonus: How do I take a really great family photo?

Memorable photos start with great composition. Stop putting your subjects in the centre of the frame and your photos instantly become more powerful and beautiful.

Un-borify your photos by shifting the way you approach your subjects. Got a baby (like me)? Get on the ground level, or try a shot overhead.

Become a human tripod and it becomes easier to take photos that aren’t dark or blurry. This post explores my basic point-and-shoot/mobile phone holding technique.

That’s it. You can do each of these things in just a few seconds – and by doing just these things, you’ll have great holiday snaps.

December 11, 2011

#46 – Think about the background first.

If you’ve got a camera in your hand, this is the smartest move you can make.

Pay attention to your background.

There are lots of things that can make a great photo – good lighting, the right moment, colours....but nothing makes a snapshot look better faster than being smart about your background. Bad snapshots feature lots of distractions. Good snapshots let the subject pop out, and a big part is making sure you control that background.

So how do you do it? A few of my favourite suggestions:

Blur it out.
Use a high aperture (lower number = higher aperture) and blur out the background. Just turn you camera to Av (aperture mode) and get blurry. This technique makes the stuff in your foreground look better. Use your camera’s zoom here too. The more you zoom, the longer the focal length. The longer your focal length, the easier it is to blur out the background.

Use a solid colour or simple pattern as a backdrop.
Background too distracting? Move your subject somewhere where you don’t have a problem. Brick walls or surfaces with few colours are great.

Get away from people.
You’re at the mall. You want to take a photo of your friend in front of a fountain, but there’s people walking around. You’re better off to move your friend and get the shot with the fountain in the background. Random background people clutter your shot and make photos look meh.

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