/ Tips for a beginner
REALLY new to photography, only just got myself a point and shoot. I'm looking for top tips for a total novice (other than get out and take loads, which I'm already trying to do). I've got a very small selection of a couple of my favourites so far on here.
Tips on anything at all would be great, for example what do you know now, that you wish you had known back when you started?
Hope this helps :)
If you're going out with the specific intention of getting some shots then look at the weather forecasts and download the photographer's ephemeris which gives information on sunrise/sunset times/direction in whatever location you're planning to visit.
As you're using a point and shoot there's not much point advising you on aperture, shutter speed and all that stuff but I will say that you don't need a dslr to get great shots, being in the right place at the right time is a skill that can make any camera punch well above its weight.
My most successful image was taken on a point and shoot... http://www.ukhillwalking.com/images/dbpage.html?id=186094
Most of all, don't try to be clever, just shoot what you love and enjoy the process of learning and improving your photography :)
Learn the basics of exposure and composition, pretty easy really and then practice so it's second nature.
Next bit: look at all the photographers you can, look at heaps of stuff from photo journo to art to landscape to contemporary to portrait. Read and look at as much as you can and then find your own style and voice.
Look out for info on the rule of thirds, lead in lines, depth of field and strong foreground interest - that should give you plenty to get you started. Find examples of photos you like - there's no right or wrong - and try and give some thought to what you'd need to do to achieve the same result. Set yourself little projects which help to explore the basic rules of composition, use of light (don't worry about flash or external lights, think natural light to begin with) and so on - something like photographing an egg in ten different ways is a bit of a classic.
Another thing might be to look into basic photo editing. Doesn't mean you have to become a photoshop wizard or pay big amounts for an editing programme (plenty of decent free ones out there), but sometimes just a little crop, adjustment of saturation or contrast etc. can make a big difference to a photo. It's not cheating, honest!
Most of all just have fun and play around, especially taking photos which wouldn't necessarily occur to you normally - it all adds to the learning.
I've put a couple of pics you took with my camera in my gallery:
Really like the second one. A lot of photographs taken from below just turn out to be arse shots, but by getting really close in to the base of the route, with the ropes behind you, it becomes a really striking composition. The blue sky helps.
Has the ability to fiddle with images done photography ( as an art) any good ? I think not, the photographer is no longer an artist, but a technician. I suppose it doesn't really matter if the person is pleased with the end result. I get tired of the endless questions asking which digital camera or lens is best. To be honest, almost any digital camera will give pleasing results in the hands of a competent user ! Twiddle around with the image in Photoshop and even the cheapest compact can produce excellent quality.
However, I think being able to fiddle with photographs on the computer has improved the art of photography. Because photos are so easy to create photos that impress people it has meant the internet is flooded with them, thus raising the bar. To take better photographs therefore often require photographers to master things like composition.
To the OP, Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure is a nice book to learn some of the fundamentals of photography.
I'll very happily accept however that there are ethical considerations - cloning out a person in what is described as a documentary (i.e. as it really was) photo and so on, and I'm definitely more on the conservative side when it comes to that sort of issue. The challenge for me is still to get it right in the camera; considering the angles, the light at the time of day, whether if you took a step to the left that lamppost wouldn't be there any more and make for a much cleaner photo etc... but unless you're a photoshop fanatic I do honestly consider most post-processing techniques to be polishing rather than total alteration, just as they were in the good old days too (and yes, recognising that back in those good old days there was also airbrushing, deliberate manipulation, cloning and all the rest).
It's always going to come down to the individual I guess. At what point does it stop being photography and start becoming graphic art? I left the camera club I was a member of in the end because I got really tired of all of the top-tier members (from past awards) always submitting and winning with images which I didn't consider to be photography but more a composition made using photos they had taken and digital effects (a landscape set within a frame where the waterfall is then running out of an over the frame and into a second picture and that sort of thing). And FWIW I completely agree with you on the camera / lens point too - it's so much more about developing an eye as a photographer, and hopefully that came acros as what I was trying to emphasise in my earlier post. But I don't think that editing is cheating (proviso - unless it's done with the intention to deceive rather than enhance).
HDR's an interesting one to talk about, but I won't go there now! ;)
The art bit is what you point the camera at and how you present it to the world. The rest is just process and there are really technical aspects to almost every field in art.
For reportage (if you do any), don't be shy, get in close and remember, it's only over once everyone else has left.
For landscape, tripods are all but essential, but don't get tunnel vision. It's so easy to spend ages composing something, whilst the real action is going on behind you.
Keep looking, keep moving, get up early, stay out late :)
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