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Digital SLR Guide Newsletter - How to Take Great Photos With Any Camera
March 11, 2012
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DSLR News - March 2012
In This Issue
Browsing through other people's photo galleries is a great way to get creatively inspired and to gain a better understanding of the "rules" of good composition.
It can also help you set some goals for your own photography.
Any time you find a collection of images that really speaks to you as a photographer, you can try to figure out how to replicate the "look" of the images yourself.
While you do this, keep this important point in mind: spectacular photos are not limited to certain types of cameras or specific settings.
Often, it's not the gear the photographer used that's important. Instead, it's how the photographer approached the subject.
Want to know how to dramatically increase the impact of your portrait photos?
Here's how: develop a rapport with your subject.
Unfortunately, it's a lot easier to say this than to pull it off. Every portrait subject is different, and many will be less than comfortable when you start pointing a camera at them.
Uncomfortable subjects wind up looking uncomfortable in their portrait photos — they're not relaxed and they're not natural.
One of the best ways to help your subject relax is to talk: ask questions, provide feedback about the type of portrait you're trying to get. If nothing else, tell them they look great, maybe even good enough for the next cover of Vogue magazine.
If you watch a few YouTube videos of pro photographers in action, you'll notice that they never stop chattering.
The entire time they are taking pictures, they are also asking the subject to change positions, cheerleading, and explaining what they're doing and why.
This takes the subject's mind off the fact that the camera is clicking away, and it results in MUCH more natural expressions.
End result: a portrait that is exceptional, rather than just ordinary.
I've been asked a lot over the years what are the "tricks" to great landscape photography.
My answer is always the same: you must have tons of patience.
I originally started out with a desire to become a landscape photographer and read several books like John Shaw's exceptional Nature Photography Field Guide on how to improve my technique.
It quickly became clear to me that I was not going to be successful at landscape photography with two small children in tow. If I have 5 minutes at a spectacular scenic overlook I'm lucky.
And that's why I don't have a huge portfolio of dramatic landcape pictures.
Since you can't force the weather and the sun to do your bidding, you simply have to be in the exact right place at the exact right time. While this might happen by accident, you'll get far better results through planning and patience.
The planning part is knowing your location: is the light more dramatic in the winter or the summer? When does the wind pick up? When does the fog roll in over the hills? At what time of day does the sun reflect perfectly off the surface of the lake?
When you know the answers to these questions, you improve your chances of being ready with your camera when the time is "just right".
The patience part comes in even after you've done your planning. Let's say that the day you plan to take your spectacular landcape the clouds roll in and it starts raining. That won't do.
I've read about how dedicated landscape photographers will return to the same spot over and over - sometimes every day for two or more weeks - until the light and weather combine to allow for the capture of that "perfect image".
If you only have 15 minutes at a location, chances are that your photos won't be as impressive as the person who has the time and flexibilty to be there every day.
At the beginning of this newsletter, I noted that capturing spectacular photos isn't really about the gear, but more about the approach.
This is only partially true when it comes to action photography.
If you want to take crisp, clear shots of fast-moving subjects, then you do need a lens and camera that can keep up.
The lens will be responsible for locking focus quickly, while the camera will need to be able to capture multiple photos in rapid-fire bursts.
Having said this, there is also a substantial amount of technique that comes into play and a lot of the technique involves proper timing.
When you're working with subjects zipping past, you need to know when the action will be at its peak.
The peak of the action will not only create a dramatic image, it also provides you with a moment when your subject is not moving QUITE as fast.
Example: you're taking pictures of someone jumping on a trampoline. If you take pictures as the subject is moving up or down, then you're dealing with a LOT of motion. You'll need a fast shutter speed to freeze your subject.
However, if you wait until the subject is high in the air and about to come back down OR right as the subject hits the trampoline, then the motion is not quite as extreme.
Is there a trick to capturing the peak of the action? There are two that I know of.
The first is to have a deep understanding of the sport you're trying to capture. This will help you anticipate when the peak of the action will occur so that you can be ready.
The second isn't even really a trick: you just have to practice. A lot.
Being able to capture an event that only takes a fraction of a second requires a great deal of practice so that you know exactly when to press the shutter button to captue that amazing shot.
Other Photography Sites
Great Photo Blogs
The Digital SLR Guide is finally on Twitter.
Well, OK, I've been on Twitter for some time now, but am trying to post more frequently than in the past.
What can you expect to find there? Breaking camera news (of course), information about lenses, interesting videos, great photo collections, and any and all things related to digital SLRs that I happen to find as I'm cruising the web.
If you're a fan of the Digital SLR Guide Facebook page, you'll notice that it has migrated to the new look. I am also trying to increase the frequency of posts to that page.
I'm looking for feedback about what additional information you'd like to see me cover on the web site and in these newsletters. You can make requests on the Facebook page, and I'll put them all on my to-do list.
Until the next issue, happy picture-taking!
--Chris Roberts, Your Digital SLR Guide
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