Fundamentals of Photography


Fundamentals of Photography

If you’re just starting out in photography, chances are you know what photographs you like and don’t like, but you might not quite be sure why that is – and that’s OK!

The fundamentals of photography can seem a bit tricky to begin with, but once you grasp some simple basics to use when taking your photographs, soon you’ll notice a massive difference in the quality of your images. Here are my top 4 fundamentals which will help you shoot great images!

1.     Get closer. Closer still. Closer again…

When I first started out in photography, one of the best lessons ever was given to us in just one minute by our photography teacher. He asked us to grab our cameras, line up a photograph that we liked, and shoot it . He then asked us to get closer to our subject, and shoot again. And yet closer still, and shoot again. And almost all of the photographs were better when we got closer.

Getting closer to your subject can often mean you are concentrating your viewers attention more on what you want them to look at. Of course if you want a wider scene, that’s great! But more often than not, those who are starting out could do with getting a little bit closer to their subject – so zoom with you feet, and get closer…Your images might look better for it!

2.     Natural light

I’ve mentioned the benefits of shooting in natural light before, and I’m going to mention it again, if only because it really can often yield the most beautiful results! Natural light is generally more flattering, and gives a greater ambience than that pop-up flash does. So if at all possible, turn off that flash, rest your camera on something solid (or use a tripod) if the light is low, and your images will really benefit from it!

3.     The rule of thirds

Is pretty simple. It means that in order for an image to be pleasing to the eye (this is totally up for debate, everyone), it should be composed in thirds. If you have a horizon line, it means that you should place it in the top or bottom third of your frame. Likewise the main subject of your image should also be placed off-centre.

Like all “rules” of photography, this one can be challenged – there is equally a lot of power in choosing to frame your subject in the middle of the frame… So my advice to you is to shoot both ways, then look at the results and see which you prefer – soon you might notice that you prefer one type of composition over another – and that’s not a bad thing 🙂

ruleofthirds_01This image obeys the rule of thirds, showing the subject in the left third of the image. Credit: Adrienne Pitts

ruleofthirds_02And this image does not – the subject is placed in the centre of the frame. Which is more pleasing to the eye? Well, that’s up to you! Credit: Adrienne Pitts

4.     Use your depth of field to your advantage

You might have just bought your first SLR, or you might have been shooting for a while – either way, aperture is going to be your friend! All those numbers can seem a bit baffling, so here’s an easy way of looking at it.

A wider aperture such as 1.8 is going to give you a very narrow depth of focus – it’s going to blur towards your point of focus, and after it, it will blue out. This is called Depth of Field. A shallow depth of field such as f1.8 can be great when you really want to draw the eye to something – whether it be an object, or a person’s eyes when taking a portrait. A smaller aperture such as f.16 is going to make almost everything in your photograph sharp and in focus, and is great for wider scenes such as landscapes.

Here’s a handy graphic which may help you visualise Depth of Field [source: unknown].

You can really control the mood of an image with your aperture – so get out there and have a play!

dof_01Caption: This photo was taken with an aperture of f.10, and shows everything in the scene in sharp focus. Credit: Adrienne Pitts

dof_02Caption: This photo was taken with an aperture of f4.5, and shows the subject as sharp, where the background is blurry. Credit: Adrienne Pitts

This is my last blog for Manfrotto Imagine More – I’ve absolutely loved sharing my little tips and tricks with you, thanks for having me along! Please do check out the links below if you’d like to keep up to date with what I’m working on!

Adrienne Pitts

About the author: Adrienne Pitts is a travel, portrait and lifestyle photographer. Originally from New Zealand, she currently lives in London – a city she loves that is also just a hop, skip and a jump away from a load of exciting travel destinations… You can see her work on her website: www.adrienne.co.nz, checking out her tumblr: www.adriennepitts.tumblr.com, and find out where in the world she currently is by following her on Instagram: www.instagram.com/hellopoe

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