I ’ve always been intrigued with light. While perched on the roof of my two-story childhood home in Dallas, I would watch and photograph approaching lightning storms. Many years later, the thrill of photography remains.
If you are looking to expand your photography skills, below are a few tips to help brighten your photos and expand your creativity.
One caveat: These tips require a more-advanced camera than those in a smartphone.
Master the moment
Photography has everything to do with timing. A fraction of a second is usually just enough to do the trick. Pressing the shutter at just the right moment takes patience and anticipation. The placement of the subject in relation to the background, expressions and shadows all play into mastering the moment. Keep your shutter finger ready and your eyes open.
Creativity often comes when looking through your lens from a different perspective. As adults, we typically experience the world around us in relation to our height — at eye level, 4-to-6-feet from the ground. Move away from the norm and shoot your photos either higher or lower to gain a different perspective.
You might try setting your camera on the ground to capture a toddler’s viewpoint. Or climb to a high vantage point for a unique view. One of my favorite assignments for students just learning photography is to take photos as close to the subject as possible. The results capture some beautiful and interesting photos.
Love the night light
There is something special about the twinkle of Christmas lights. They are not only a joy to see but also fun to photograph. This tip is a technical one but essential for taking photographs at night. Your shopping list requires two items — a camera that allows for long exposure and something to support it.
Let’s talk camera support. Tripods are excellent at keeping your camera still during longer exposure. However, they are big and expensive. With some Boy Scout ingenuity, you can create your own device for steadying the camera. For example, a bag of rice effortlessly conforms underneath your camera’s body making it a great option. Set your camera to self-timer so the vibration of pressing the shutter will not create blur.
Your night-photography formula: Low ISO (adjusts your camera’s sensitivity to light and improves quality), long exposure (try 30 seconds to start), manual focus (cameras have a hard time seeing in the dark) and setting the camera’s shooting mode to manual. Change to a smaller aperture setting if your first image is too bright.
This article may include a few terms with which you may not be familiar. I never said being creative was easy. A desire to learn is required, and practice is mandatory.
One final tip: Give your local professional photographer, who is an expert at making everyone look his/her best, a call for special occasions. Your family will be grateful you are in the portraits and not behind the camera.