SLR cameras have been affordable for awhile now, and they are still selling like crazy. There is a myth with these cameras though. People think they are going to get amazing pictures just because they own one. Not the case. You will get better color accuracy and better quality in low light but, that's about it if you keep it in automatic mode. The truth? It is you, the photographer! Taking hands-on beginner photography classes is all you need to start getting amazing shots more easily. I could buy the most expensive paint brush but, that won't make me a great painter, right? I would need to learn the skills and practice using them. When you go out and use learned photography skills, your perspective of everything you see will change. You will know how to position the subjects you are photographing several ways along with what mode to use to look like a professional. The best part? These beginner skills can be learned in one day. SLR cameras are very different than the regular point and shoot cameras because of detachable lenses, manual settings for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Knowing what these features are and how to adjust them alone allows more opportunities to get your amazing shot.
So what is the first step? Learning "composition", or how to arrange objects / subjects in your camera using different angles and heights to create an eye pleasing photograph. There is a guideline how to do this named the "rule of thirds" which I teach in-depth and hands-on in my 3 hour photo course. The quick summary of the rule of thirds is to place interesting subjects / objects one third from the outer edge of your viewfinder. Avoid putting your subjects in the center of your pictures. For example with a landscape shot, have the ground take up 2/3rds of the shot and the sky 1/3rd. Then try the opposite. Place the sun halfway between the center of the frame and the outer edge or vice versa. Rule of thirds works horizontally and vertically. I would say composition has a 75% importance factor while manual settings are 25%. You can get a great photo with composition alone but, it really helps to know the basics of both.
The second step is planning and experimenting. Especially with landscapes and portraits. Knowing the best time of day or season to photograph is crucial. An hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset is considered the "golden hour". This is when the light looks warm and is low to the horizon which creates beautiful colors and shadows. Experiment by taking the same shot really high up or really low to the ground. Which looks better to you? Practice unique perspectives with every shot and I guarantee more amazing shots will be created sooner.
Bonus tip. Use a tripod when there isn't much light. There is nothing worse than thinking you got a great shot and then when you see it on a large screen, it's blurry! In low light, your shutter speed will slow down unless you adjust it manually. This causes motion blur from holding the camera unsteadily.
I hope this was helpful to all the aspiring photographers out there.
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Interested in taking hands-on photography classes in Columbus, Ohio? Here is my photo class link: http://www.crimsonleavesphotography.com/learn-photography.html
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Matt Cangelosi - International Award-Winning Photographer - Columbus, Ohio