Five Tips to Better Photos

With the sudden surge and swell in the blogosphere, Twittersphere and Photosphere over Lightroom 3 hitting the streets (and a nice combo discount is available in the sidebar by the way), let’s not forget that this software is all meant to be doing one thing – letting us get back to the business of taking photos instead of spending our time in our computer.

With that in mind, I’m bringing back a popular concept of “Top Tips”.  Today, I give you…(drum roll please):

“Five Tips to Better Photos”

  1. Be Ware of Exposure Values – No matter how good your camera is, if you under or over expose too much, you’ll be losing detail which either takes too long to recover in post production or is unrecoverable.  Check your histogram for “blinkies” (meaning stay away from the edges), and you’re in a much better zone to start!
  2. In keeping with watching exposure values, don’t rely on new-fangled features lie “content aware fill” or “clone tools” to fix things afterward.  If it takes ten more seconds to get it right in camera, do it, because it means you are still shooting and not stuck behind a monitor at 2am fixing stuff for tomorrow’s delivery deadline!
  3. Avoid increasing Noise.  It’s like a broken record at this point, but would you rather keep noise down in camera or address it because you were shooting at ISO 64000 in camera?  Yeah, the reduction features are amazing, but it’s even better if you don’t even have to touch that slider.  Swap lenses, check settings, and heck, maybe even add a fill flash.  It helps to keep noise down, which ultimately means your shots are cleaner.
  4. Look for the Light – the direction of the light, the intensity of light, and the shape of the light all can impact your photos.  As a general rule, keep the light to your side and behind you, and try to keep the intensity down as you don’t want to over-expose your subject (see Tip #1).  Don’t forget, you can shape and modify even ambient light with diffusers, reflectors,  and umbrellas.  It’s all part of the larger principle that photography is about “writing with light”.
  5. Shy away from shadows – Just as the quality of light can make or break a photo, so too can shadows.  Watch for overhead lights as this can have nasty effects on things like portraiture (shadows under eyes).  Coming at your subject from the wrong angle can also lead to nasty and unwanted shadows of yourself in the picture.  For instance, if you are shooting a building at sunset with the sun directly behind you, your own shadow can creep into the scene, making for some not-so-fun post production work in Photoshop.

There you have it – 5 easy tips to better photos!  Lightroom?  We don’t need no stinkin’ Lightroom!  (Well, we do, but it made for a good quote! 🙂 )

What sorts of tips have you come up with to make and take better photos in camera?  Share your own in the comments!  Happy shooting and we’ll see you back here again tomorrow!

P.S.  Remember, there are two contests going on right now – if you stop over to the podcast day (Monday) where I talked with Rob Sylvan and share a comment you are entered to win a free copy of his upcoming “Taking Stock” book – courtesy of Peachpit Press.  Also, the monthly giveaway for 2 4GB Lexar Pro 300x CF cards is rolling and you can submit your photos to the Flickr thread here!  Enjoy and good luck to all!

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