Great Camera, So-So Photos?
There are so many great camera options today; smart phones, point-and-shoot cameras, and DSLRs. No matter what you use, my tips (and example photos from our vacation in Greece) will help you take more photos that you'll want to share. If you're already a pro, skip to the bottom and leave me your best tip! If not, read on:
Tip 1: Experience First, Then Shoot
Vacations can be overwhelming! I understand the temptation to look quickly, take a photo, and move on to the next thing. But that robs you of actually experiencing your vacation. And a photo can never duplicate the in-person experience. What I try to do is to give myself time to just be, to feel what it feels like to be there. This allows me to decide what is unique and wonderful about this place and to then try to show that in my photos. In the photos above, I liked the contrast of the solid historic buildings with the delicate, fresh flowers so that's what these photos show.
Tip 2: Place the Subject Off-center
Centered subjects can be powerful, but they can sometimes be boring. I usually find it more dynamic to have an off-centered subject that is balanced by other objects in the composition. One easy way to do this is to mentally divide your viewer into a 3x3 grid and place the subject roughly on one of the 4 intersection points. My iPhoto editing function has that grid built in so its a snap to do this when I crop the photo.
Tip 3. Think: Foreground, Middleground, and Distance
Did you ever photograph an amazing vista–like a view of the Tuscany countryside–only to be disappointed by the result? In the photo everything just looks small and distant. Instead, include objects in the foreground, middleground, and distance, to provide a more interesting composition and show scale.
Tip 4: Cull Frequently
It is a good idea to take lots of photos; trying different viewpoints means you have a better chance of getting a great shot. But you know you won't want to wade though hundreds of photos when you get home. I like to eliminate the duds daily. When we sit down for a meal or a break, I pull out my camera and go through what I've just taken. I usually edit out at least half my photos this way and only keep the promising ones. When I get home, I cull even more.
Tip 5: Crop, Crop, Crop!
In my experience amateur photographers don't crop nearly enough. When you crop you have an opportunity to straighten the horizon (do you do that too?) and re-compose the image to make the forms bigger and place the focus where you want it per Tip 2. Here I eliminated the busy left side and cropped the top and bottom of the image. This makes the fortress bigger, the dark dock on the left is now a nice foil for the bike rider, and your eye moves easily around the image.
Did this help? I hope so! Please leave me a comment to share your favorite photography tip.
I'm Linda Hugues and I paint cityscapes from my travels in Europe and my home in Florida. Here on my monthly blog I write about everything related to my art life, in and out of the studio. Enjoy!