To become a better photographer, a photographer must be able to anticipate the moments. He/She must have a foresight which will allow him to prepare well in advance for the shot. A lot of time, photographer do have the foresight but are still not able to get the shot. The Reason? Improper camera settings.
Most photographers think with today’s high precision automated features in camera’s setting it up is not a big deal. The fuel to this belief is added further by camera manufacturer who tout their camera’s will do all the required stuff as the photographer concentrates on the moment. Sure, its true but to a very certain degree. Unless you switch onto the AUTO mode, you’ll need to think of certain setting beforehand to capture the future moment perfectly.
When I’m about to photograph in crunch situation where getting a shot is crucial, I tend to make note of some simple things in mind. I foresight the situation in which I will need to make a photograph & plan accordingly.
Shooting in windy conditions is a challenging task. Yesterday, I was shooting at the coast & the wind was furious. In-spite of a tripod, I had to take some actions in order to prevent blur in my pictures.
# Secure Tripod – You’ve a tripod so you think it would be stable enough in ferocious wind. It might be but you need a decent tripod. Most entry level tripods won’t stay put in strong wind. Make sure you’ve setup the tripod properly. The legs are extended properly and the legs are pulled out properly & secured tightly. Make sure the tripod legs lay firmly over the ground. You may need to clear small pebbles or other things which may not give adequate friction to the legs. Most of the tripods come with a hook which enable you to put on some weight. It is exactly made for such windy situations. Places some rocks & sand in a bag & tie it to this hook. Alternately, you can even put any bag you might be carrying like I do. Finally, avoid raising the center column of the tripod. On extending, the center column without much support is prone to vibrate from strong wind currents. You may not be able to see it vibrate but you’ll see the outcome in the resulting photo.
# Remove the Lens Hood – Yes, remove the lens hood. If the wind is blowing across you from a side, then you must remove the hood. This is because the wind will hit the floral extended part of the hood & cause it to vibrate. The aerodynamics take a hit & due to this the camera will begin to shake. Remove the lens hood & keep it aside so you won’t face this issue.
# Use Self-Timer/Remote Release – If you’re shooting landscapes, put up self timer on your camera of 2 or 5 secs. Alternately use a cable release/wireless remote release. Off-course this will not apply when you’re shooting portraits.
# Block the Wind – This is a no brainer. Try to block the wind by standing in the direction of it hitting the tripod. This small tip can tremendously increase the stability of the tripod. If you’ve large reflectors with you, open it up & ask someone to hold it for you or you can do the same.
Watch the background. It is the background which will often make or break your image. No matter how good your subject is & how pleasant the light is but a cluttered background can ruin your entire photograph.
The key to a good background is to keep it simple. Often including too many things can give the background a cluttered look. Even if you shoot with a shallow depth-of-field, a cluttered background will still look busy. If you’re shooting outside, be on the lookout for streams of light which may be passing through tiny gaps in your background. These can be a nuisance. Instead try to get a clear single coloured background which would not compete with the subject. Often we see tree branches poking out of people’s head. Unless you want to portray your subject as a reindeer, its better you take time while framing to avoid this common mistake.
Most amateur photographers are tempted to include a flashy background which off-course looks good but directs the viewer eyes to the background than the point of interest in the photograph. You do not want this to happen. A good background is one which complements the subject & not one which competes with the subject.
There are many tips on how one can get a good background to shoot but that will demand an entire post. I’ll do it in future. For time-being, watch the background & see how your photographs improve radically.
Being a photographer, you might be used to watching photographs from various photographers. You might have been addicted to seeing pictures published in newspapers, magazines, brochure etc. This is a good habit since it lets you study how the photographer made the photograph. It introduces you to viewpoint & thinking process of other photographer. Overtime, this will lead to a gradual growth in your photography skills. However, have you spared a thought of doing the same thing with video?
Photographers often perceive, video to be a totally different field & don’t seem to pay any attention to it. However if one looks closely, both photography & video share the same roots. Video shooters even abide by the rule of thirds, use a similar lighting setup while shooting video. If you observe movies closely, you’ll notice how the camera glides through the shot & at any point of time, the frame is perfectly framed. The lighting looks great, the composition is immaculate & so is a great deal of attention given to keeping the frames uncluttered. In movie’s, often DOF is managed perfectly & its an area where photographers can learn a lot from. Then there are framing techniques, like framing from within something, framing besides something & framing in such a way which might give photographers a new way to compose.
It has become an unconscious exercise for me, to pay attention to the cinematography whenever I’m watching any TV Show or a movie. I’m always thinking of the light, the composition technique, the camera movement etc. This has helped me immensely in improving my photography skills. Similarly, for cinematographers doing the reverse will also hold good. Next time, while watching a movie try this & you’ll appreciate how it helps to raise the bar of your photography. However, don’t complain to me if you miss the story-line doing so. It has happened with me on a few occasions . ;)
Exactly six months ago, I began my 365 Project. For those living under the shell, 365 Project is where one takes a photograph each day for coming 365 days i.e. an year. I began this project with the sole aim to further develop & enhance my photography skills. It has been a joyous ride till now as I reach the midpoint of my 365 project today. I strongly recommend this is the best thing you can ever implement to hone your photography skills & polish your creative eye. However, the 365 Project comes with its very own challenges & I’ll briefly touch over them so you know what will be coming your way. The idea behind this post is not to make your challenges easy(and they won’t) but to help you recover & not leave your 365 project midway. With that in mind, let’s proceed.