I do not know about you, but I get jealous very often when I see amazing pictures on Instagram, Twitter and Travel Magazines of holiday snaps.
Like this one:
I mean, how do these people take these perfect looking pictures?
I always thought I took decent or good enough pictures, before I started blogging that is!
Since I started using my own pictures more and more for my posts, especially for my holiday posts, I came to realise that my pictures sometimes lack certain requirements that I have.
In short, I need to improve my photography skills.
And how would one do that?
Simple, by having more time to go out to take pictures, by experiment more, by figuring out more about camera settings and by actually taking more pictures.
They do not say for no reason “Practice makes Perfect”.
And now is the perfect time to practice and improve photography skills with the lockdown in place.
Here are a few tips that I learned over time and also during my Expedition trip to Svalbard.
ANGLE, PERSPECTIVE AND POINT OF VIEW
Taking several pictures of the same object from different angles, perspectives and points makes a huge difference.
You can take a picture, walk a few steps, take another picture of the same object and both pictures might look totally different, just like the two pictures below.
Very often you will realise that taking pictures from different points will create completely different effects.
You can tilt your camera, take a picture from above by lifting your camera up a little above your head or from the lower ground by crouching down.
Simply changing the angle can change the entire picture.
LAYING ON THE FLOOR
This must have been the best advice I was given. It opened up a whole new world for me.
Do not be afraid to get on your knees or even lay down on the floor, flat on your belly.
I got the below picture by doing exactly that and I am so proud of it. I combined it with macro mode as I wanted to have the grasses in focus, but the ship blurry in the background.
I would have never been able to get this picture with that angle from standing up or kneeling down.
POSITION OF THE OBJECT
Another great tip that I never paid much attention to before was, to change the position of the object.
I like things being symmetrical, hence I always tried to have my object centred, in the middle of the frame.
However, often objects, such as this sign, actually look better to the right or left of the picture.
By not having this sign in the centre, one can still see the beautiful landscape. The sign does not fully become the centre of attention.
The mirror effects is usually achieved when you take a picture on a reflective surface, for instance water, to create a double or an echo of an object or a scene.
Using natural reflections in water, but also on mirrors or even metal, basically any shiny surface that is reflective, can create unusual and interesting effects.
USING NATURAL FRAMES FOR YOUR PICTURE
Using natural frames such as branches, buildings, archways, walls etc. is a great way to draw more attention to or highlight the object in your picture, that you want people to focus on.
It refers to using an element in your picture, such as this brick wall with the arrow slit, inside to frame the main subject, the castle.
In the above picture I tried to use the archway to frame the little boat, but also wanted to have the building in the background to the left to create this Mediterranean feeling.
Natural framing is great as well to fill empty spaces or otherwise boring backgrounds, such as the sea in the above picture and the sky.
Our cameras come with lots of settings, but most of us just know how to turn the flash on and off.
It is worth getting to know your camera and playing around with the settings.
The settings I have come across and that I use very often now, since I discovered them are:
- Macro mode
- Night landscape
These seem to be very obvious settings to a lot of photographers, but I never cared about them before and all the available options, effects and variations were overwhelming.
There are many more settings on my camera that I am not aware of yet, but I am slowly figuring out where they are and what they do. This will open up more possibilities for me to take better pictures.
Macro mode has become my best friend.
This setting is very useful to take pictures and focus on objects that are close to the camera lens.
I often use it for photographing flowers, insects and items that are on the floor like this feather.
Focusing on your object, like this bee, also can blur your background, which is a nice effect.
In this picture the bee and beautiful lavender become the centre of attention. And that was exactly the effect I was going for.
There are two types of timing in my opinion: planned and unplanned.
The planned timing, you have control over. For example, I knew I wanted to take a picture of Gardens by the Bay in Singapore at night.
I could plan for this picture. I knew where I had to be at a specific time to achieve getting this picture.
The second one, the unplanned timing, is unpredictable. You cannot plan for the picture or occasion, the opportunity just presents itself to you when you least expect it.
The below picture of the monkey was also taken in Singapore. My partner and I went for a hike and all of a sudden a few monkeys appeared out of nowhere.
I think the monkey is adorable and the picture makes me smile every time I look at it. It makes me think of that hike. So it stirs up memories, this unexpected encounter.
Very often we take pictures of beautiful objects and landscapes that we did not plan for. We take those pictures in that specific moment in time and they turn out to be incredible, but very often they also just look rubbish. 🙂
You can edit a picture in thousands of ways.
I normally do not care too much for editing my pictures as I prefer to leave my pictures as I took them, unchanged in any way.
But, I just started to use Instagram a few months ago and came across those editing and filter options.
Sometimes the picture does not reflect how the environment really looked like, such as the colours due to bad lighting. Or perhaps the picture is too dark and you cannot really make out the object. Hence, you edit it a little to make the object visible.
Another reason for using these filters is too get a desired effect that you are after. Though, I am not a big fan of overdoing it with editing as it can make a picture look unrealistic or fake.
I am staring to use the editing and especially the filter options more and more as I believe it can enhance the picture if used properly.
I hope you find these tips useful and might try some out yourself.
We might not have the most beautiful, interesting and exciting objects to take pictures of right now during lockdown, but every object and scenery, what ever it may be, can be used for testing and experimenting.
Let me know what settings you use on your camera to take pictures and please feel free to share any tips and tricks that make your pictures stand out.