Friday, April 16, 2010

How to take pretty pictures.

Bold title, no?

I get questions emailed to me all the time about this, so I'll tackle a little bit of it here.

~ You don't have to have a fancy dslr camera, in my opinion. You'll be amazed at what can be done with a point and shoot, if you learn to do it.

~ Be prepared to study. Read your camera manual. Then read it again. And probably 12 or so more times. No fun, I know. But it must be done.

~ Learn to turn off your flash. No flash, you hear me? No flash.

~ Learn to adjust your ISO. This has to do with the amount of light you're letting in to your camera. High ISO means more light, low ISO means less light is coming in.

Bright sunlight should have a very low ISO, like maybe 100.
Indoors, you'll have to increase your ISO since you're now no longer using your flash. Play around with it and you'll figure out what works.
Try it at 400. Try it at 800. Try to go as high as your camera will allow.

The other thing you need to know about ISO is that the higher the number, the more noise or grain you'll get in your pictures. It's just one of the tradeoffs.
Grain = bad.
Flash = worse.

~ When you can, shoot outdoors in a shady spot. Not in direct sun.
Full sun will make your subjects (if they're people) squint and that's never flattering.
It will also give very harsh shadows and usually that's not attractive.

~ Learn to shoot in aperture priority. You'll find instructions in your camera manual. I told you you have to read it! (Once you've mastered aperture priority, you can move to manual which is a whole new world! Once you're in manual, you'll never look back.)

Aperature priority means that you set the aperture, and let the camera decide the shutter speed.

~ Aperture... The lower number you have, the more narrow your focus. (I wish I had photo examples to put here!) Think of this - You're looking at a flowering tree. If you want the entire tree to be in focus equally, you'll need a higher aperture number, like 11 or so. If you want only one flower to be in focus and the rest to be blurred, you'll need a lower aperture number like 4, or 3.2, or 1.8. (Different cameras will allow different numbers. If you have a dslr, it's the lens that will determine how low you can go in aperture.) Just go as low as you can if you want to narrow the focus.

Again, if you want all flowers in focus = high number. One flower in focus = low number.

~ That pretty blurred background is called bokeh. Sometimes it's lovely. Sometimes it's strange.

~ Photography is just like any other art form. What appeals to some, doesn't to others! If it's a photo that you love, then it's perfect no matter what someone else might think.

~ Often it's best to not have people looking at the camera. Focus on capturing moments, in real time! Not posing the kids and having them say cheese.

~ Try a different angle. Maybe have your kids lay on the grass and you stand above them while shooting straight down. Or the opposite - you lay on the grass and have them above you leaning over. Climb under the dining room table and get pictures of their feet dangling off the chair. Try something besides the obvious straight on face shot. You'll be pleasantly surprised, I think!

~ Some of my favorite photos came from a point and shoot camera. (apparently a few years ago I thought that ripped edge border was crazy rad.)


~ Use an editing program. You will never ever ever see a photo nowadays in a magazine that hasn't been edited in some way. I think of editing like makeup. You can take a very pretty face and make it stunning with makeup. You can take a pretty picture and make it stunning with editing. But you can also ruin it by going too far. In my opinion, a light hand is best. But as I said before, photography is a subjective art. I use Photoshop. You can find very inexpensive ones as well, and most cameras come with one. Add a touch of contrast, boost the color saturation a bit...

~ Any questions? Have fun!

30 comments:

Scott, Joanna, Matthew said...

You are absolutely correct...Once you learn your manual setting, you will never go back.

Miss Anne said...

these are all great tips, and you make them very easy to understand! :)

have a fabulous weekend my friend!

3 Blessings said...

Thanks for sharing all the tips. I just have a Kodak point and click style camera and I enjoy using it. I am in no way a professional, but I love great shots of my kids, so I really appreciate this post.
Blessings,
Amy

tara said...

Amen sister, love this....I think there is also a saying that says practice practice practice...! :) Happy weekend!

Ink Obsession Designs said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this! I need the tips more than you can imagine!! :)

AM from White House, Black Shutters said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! An SLR would be AMAZING, but I know my Canon is capable of lot! Thanks for helping me so I can tap into that potential.

Jody said...

Whoo-Hoo! I think I might have to print this post out. Thanks Beki!

Rachel said...

Fabulous tips!!

I love all the suggestions. I, too, will have to print this out.

Blessings.

Mom of 2 Cuties @ Sprinkles of Joy and Laughter said...

Thanks so much for the tips! I had a really good 35mm years ago. In fact my little girl found a roll of film and wanted to know what it was. :) I so want a new camera from Santa this year so I am saving these tips.

Hana said...

Yep, read your manual and practice practice practice! Learn to understand light and how it falls on your subject and what kind of light is flattering...aahhh, how I love the golden hour! Manual mode baby all the way! My camera has never seen anything else. Manual forces you to learn your settings and not rely on the device. Tough love, Ha! And like you said a little editing know-how is a must to take your photos from good to WOW! Have a great weekend Beki!

Sara said...

I printing this...and putting it IN my camera case.
But please...shhhh about the type of camera...I am trying to be better, and I think I do pretty well for my little camera, but am still asking for a fancy schmantzy camera for mothers day and my birthday....
as for editing, all I use is my iPhoto...
thanks for your email...I appreciate you!

(and jagged edges were rad!)

hollie marie said...

Thanks for the tips! I am still figuring my way through my dslr!
I've noticed you've done a couple of blog giveaways recently - I would LOVE to partner up with you for another giveaway if you're interested! I love love love LOVE your jewelry-especially "How Great is Our God!"

peggy aplSEEDS said...

great post! thanks for sharing!

Christina said...

I have a lot to learn...but I do a lot in auto since I am mainly trying to capture moments in time. You know? I need to read my manual!! Just trying to use the Aperture Priority without knowing how DOESN'T WORK. So...cool advice. :)

Michelle said...

I have read and re-read my manual and it's still in a foreign language. I'll never understand it. But, since my cameras digital and I'm not wasting film I just play around ALOT and get lucky. Thank you for your post, it's in english. I finally get what ISO means. THANK YOU!!!!

busterandboo said...

thank you for explaining some of these terms! I've gotten used to my camera, and I think I've gotten pretty good at editing. Recently shot a knitted animal that was wearing purple. It looked blue. I made it look purple! (so proud of myself!)
Thanks Beki!

Gemstone Jewelry said...

Here is some lovely Friday inspiration. This awesome necklace was posted on the Crafty Review Pool by Wandie Ortiz, who is clearly very talented.

Kari said...

I'm totally lost when it comes to photography and photo-editing, etc. These are great tips! I'm going to print out this post and keep it for future reference. I'm actually shopping around for a new digital camera (a point-and-shoot type around $200 or less) - do you have any recommendations? Thanks!

bagqueen said...

Thanks for this, I'm going to copy these tips and put them where I can find them then I'm going to go and see if I can find my manual!!!

carissa @ lowercase letters said...

these are fantastic tips!!! thank you so much. it's time for me to start studying! you rock.

Martha said...

Thank you Beki...i need to read this post 20 times and then more!!!

robin bird said...

hi beki! thanks for stopping by at my blog. i am loving your stamped jewelry. I have a very simple necklace tied with red string that was given to me as an unexpected gift with the word 'tweet' stamped on a on it and i cherish it because it was so personal a way for this person to say she knows who i really am. does that make sense? thanks for introducing me to your blog and all your wonderful links :)

Sew Gracious said...

Thanks for the great info. I love it all except reading that manual. :( You've made the gobbeldy-goock made more sense! :)

Rene said...

I'm doing the Week in the Life along with many others on Ali's Blog so I was reading through the amazing give=aways and came across your name. Pulled up your blog and Kansas caught my eye as I just drove back from Kansas yesterday after visiting my parents. So this post is awesome cause the point and shoot is what I have. I'm pulling out the little, but thick, instruction manual and start reading. Thanks for all the tips!

Blissful Babe said...

Awesome post!

And I just love the outfit she's got going on! So funky and fresh!

Nicole R.J. said...

Thanks for the great tips! I keep starting to read my camera's manual and... well, it really is no fun! *lol*

Cindy at LottieBird said...

okay. That's it. Today I will be the day I actually pull out my Canon Rebel and take a photo (I've had it for over a month!). I will play with the aperture. I promise.

(and I do really love some of my photos taken on my point and shoot--it's just always there so I can use it any time).

stacy said...

I am trying to get through my manual right now. And the For Dummies book for my camera. This post was so timely for me. Thank you!

My Cottage Charm said...

I JUST bought a Canon EOS rebel t2i and I'm SO clueless! lol I've been trying to read my manual, but it feels like I'm reading Greek! This one post has taught me more in the last five minutes, than reading the manual the last two days! :) I wish you were my neighbor and I could pick your brain and watch you work! :) I'm going on to how to take pretty pictures part two! Oh, Emily, from Decor Chick told me about your blog...she's a life savor!
Hugs
Missy

My Cottage Charm said...

I JUST bought a Canon EOS rebel t2i and I'm SO clueless! lol I've been trying to read my manual, but it feels like I'm reading Greek! This one post has taught me more in the last five minutes, than reading the manual the last two days! :) I wish you were my neighbor and I could pick your brain and watch you work! :) I'm going on to how to take pretty pictures part two! Oh, Emily, from Decor Chick told me about your blog...she's a life savor!
Hugs
Missy