All the gear but no idea? Professional photographer and expert Mat Trim shares his know-how on how to tailor your skills to your subject…
Photography is a great art form/hobby, being available to almost anyone, and can be used for recording visually pretty much anything. It’s great for weddings, family occasions, parties, kids growing up, holidays, even to record the odd bump in your car for insurance purposes. It’s a unique medium that is incredibly useful but has the amazing ability to send you right back to moment you took the photograph – a form of time travel if you like.
To get the best out of your photography here are my tips and tricks to make your picture taking experience more enjoyable and to get the best out of your camera, be it a smartphone or a DSLR.
When shooting people it’s always a good idea to focus on the eyes – everything else can be out of focus but keep those eyes sharp! Also don’t crop at the joints, that means don’t chop your subject off at the knees or elbows it looks very odd. It is always a good idea to use a slightly longer lens i.e. zoom out a little, if you use a wide angle lens like those on your phone the shots will not be very flattering (these days you can buy portrait clip on lenses for your android/iPhone), with a camera go long and use a zoom lens to get those great portrait photographs. If the weather is too bad outside, go shoot indoors and use a window as a light source it has a lovely quality and will give your portraits that “pro” look.
Everyone likes to shoot a landscape scene whether it’s a holiday snap or a lovely sunset, but it’s always a bad idea to split the horizon right down the middle, try to shoot two thirds up or two thirds down it looks more pleasing to the eye. With sunsets take your camera off auto white balance this will make the colours pop and give you those incredible skies. To give your scene scale put someone in the shot (remember not to crop them at the joints) and it will show the true splendour of the landscape. A lot of photographers use the blue hour to get amazing light effects this does mean getting up early and staying out late – the blue hour is approximately one hour before sunrise and one hour after sunset, but the light is truly amazing and will give outstanding results.
Babies and children
Everyone loves babies and children, and they are naturally cute and great to photograph, but with a little planning you can get shots that a pro would be proud of. Always start with a warm room and everything set up and ready to go when shooting baby portraits this allows the subject to get used to what’s going on. Then after being fed and perhaps a warm bath get them into fresh clothes and the infant will be relaxed and will probably sleep, so you can get those ‘babe in a flowerpot’ type shots they will certainly be more amenable, it’s always a good idea to have mum very close for support.
This is my ‘pet’ subject (see what I did there) as I have two dogs and spend a lot of time photographing them. I have a couple of tricks which will always give good results, one is to give your dog a good long walk, this will calm them down and make them less bouncy (especially if you own a springer spaniel) and makes them more receptive to commands. To get your animal to look right down the lens I use dog treats stuck to the camera using blue tack this always gets Becks attention and he suddenly starts to concentrate. With cats the treat trick might work but cats are naturally curious and a cardboard box will make a great prop to get those shots. Generally with cats it’s all about patience and having your camera ready.
Unless you are the official photographer. go for a ‘reportage’ style – this means shooting unguarded moments and non-posed photography. This will work for any formal occasion or party, the trick is to have your camera ready and to shoot unnoticed. I always shoot in JPEG and RAW (check to see if your camera does this) and set the camera to B/W i.e. shooting in black and white, it really changes the way you photograph and because you shot in RAW as well, anything that looks better in colour can be retrieved. Shooting in monochrome gives your occasion photography a real style and if you bump up the ISO (the sensitivity of the camera) you can shoot indoors without flash and the slightly grainy effect really adds atmosphere to the photo.
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