Monday, May 9, 2016




I remember when I worked at a photo store.  I saw a lot of photos every day.  I mean a lot of photos, because we did our own photo processing, and we did a good job in processing and our customers knew that.  So, we had the good photographers as well as those who thought they were good.  Sometimes, though, I remember thinking that there were people who just shouldn't be taking pictures.  I think they thought if they bought expensive camera equipment that their photography would change.  They just kept trying to take good pictures, but, just couldn't do it.  Did they ever get good at taking pictures?  I am not sure, because either I got transferred to another store, or they gave up, I am not sure.  I can think of several people who just gave up, I think.  There are those people who just don't get it.  I am not sure why, but, I think it's because they did not follow the rules.  The basic rules.  There are a few basic rules that should be followed in photography to get good pictures, and most people, if they want to become good, can, and will become good photographers, if they follow the rules.  There are rules of composition, there are rules of how to get started, and there are rules of how to get better.  I have been putting a lot of emphasis on composition.  I am trying to go back now to the basic photographer, opening his camera, or trying to get started.  What should I do first?  Well, here is some good pointers of what to do, and please, don't think this applies to someone else.  It applies to all photographers.  So, read through this and learn something.  Then go back through my other blogs or posts, and read up on the rules of composition.  I think you will catch on.

People who are not professional photographers have different ideas about their photography gifts and abilities. Many are of the opinion that it’s easy to be a photographer, but, on the other side of the coin, there are those who have taken really bad photos and consider themselves bad photographers.
sunset shadow
photo by Hernán Piñera
The real truth is that just about anyone can take better pictures. It’s really easy to press that shutter button. But there are some steps you can take that will make your images better, even if you are an absolute beginner.

Where to Start Becoming a Better Photographer

These are some of the ideas for beginning photographers to keep in mind whether your goal is to take pictures of your family, landscapes, sports, close-ups, pets, street journalism, or even if you plan to become a pro–in which case, you have to start somewhere!
  1. First, get to know your camera. It really doesn’t matter if you have one of the least expensive digital point and shoot cameras or an extremely expensive DSLR camera. If you aren’t familiar with the camera’s capabilities and settings, you will be unable to take advantage of that camera’s best qualities. Read the manual. Practice getting shots with your camera. You don’t need National Geographic type settings to practice; your living room, backyard, or a local parking lot will do. Just get familiar with that wonderful image recording device.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the most basic photography concepts, such as composition and light. Even a little knowledge about composition and lighting will give you a huge advantage when it comes to taking pictures that have interest.
  3. Use your camera at every opportunity. Having the best equipment available will not help if it’s sitting at home in the closet. Get used to carrying the camera with you at all times. If you have the resources, you can have more than one camera, a small camera that fits into your pocket and a larger “more professional” camera that you take for special photo ops. Even a cell phone can produce great images these days if you are aware of its capabilities.
  4. Above all, do some soul searching and convince yourself that you can do this thing called photography. You can take better pictures, no matter what your previous pictures look like.
girl in window
photo by Kah Wai Sin

Things to Avoid in Your Thinking

  • I am not a good photographer, so why try? This one thought will paralyze your future in photography. Change your thinking now. Even if you have not been happy with your pictures, you can get better.
  • There’s too much to learn about cameras and software. Not true. Yes, there is a boatload of software and camera equipment available, but you are not required to either have it all or learn it all in order to become a good photographer.
  • It takes too much time to become a good photographer. Again, this is not true. Of course, you will get better as time goes on and you become more familiar with how to take photos and use your camera, but if you learn a few basics, it will make a world of difference in your picture quality.
parachute photo
photo by Garry Knight

If you have a desire to be a better photographer, you can do it.

About the Author:
Wayne Rasku has been an amateur photographer since 2003. He runs sites related to photography classes in Atlanta, Georgia, and a Canon lens organization site.


Photography basics:

Basic manual mode photography tips for the up-and-coming photographer.
basics of photography
“Light in the Darkness” captured by Dennis Rademaker
In this article, we will make certain assumptions. Assumption #1: you own a camera (digital or otherwise). Assumption #2: you’ve taken pictures with it and know that they could have turned out better. Assumption #3: you’d like for them to turn out better! Then, here we go. We’ll focus on digital photography, as it is easiest to learn on due to instant access to results.
We consider the basics to be three things: light, aperture, and shutter speed. After grasping these three things, we will notice a marked improvement in the quality of our photos. Then, we can move on to more advanced tips.


Light is both a photographer’s blessing and curse. When we have the right lighting, our pictures are amazing. When we have too much lighting, or not enough, it causes our pictures to turn out in a way other than we would have liked.
If taking pictures outside, try to shoot early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Also, try to position the subject so that the light plays to your favor. If the subject is a person, avoid shooting from the sun. Get at an angle so that they’re not looking at you with the sun in their eyes. Try to make sure that the lighting across your subject is consistent. If your subject is a person, again, try to keep the whole body or face (whichever part you’re shooting) in the shade or the light. This will help to avoid unwanted and awkward shadows.
If you want to get creative, you can also invest in a reflector to try to further master the lighting of your subjects.


The best way to think of the aperture is to lift one your hands and form an “O” with your fingers (bring tips together with thumb-tip). This is your aperture. Now, bring it up to one of your eyes. Is it easy to see out of? Great.
Now, still holding your hand up to your eye, start curling your fingers into your palm along the base of your thumb. Is the light disappearing? That is the way aperture (also known as an f-stop) works in a camera. It opens and closes to allow more or less light into a shot from what is available. The lower the number is, the bigger the opening is and more light that reaches the image sensor. The higher the number is, the tighter/smaller the opening is and the less light that gets in. This function is used together with shutter speed.
aperture photo settings
“Sheewa” captured by Lilia Tkachenko

Shutter Speed

Blink. Now blink a few times. The time between the blinks, or the amount of time that your eyes/shutter stay open, is the equivalent of shutter speed. It determines how much light to let in and also how much action. The smaller the number is (or higher the 1/ number is, i.e. 1/1000 versus 1/30), the faster the shutter speed is. There are also specialty settings B and T for bulb (keeps shutter open for as long as your finger is on the shutter release) and time (keeps shutter open until you hit release again).
Fast shutter speeds only let in a little light and are pretty useful in high-light scenarios or with moving targets. Slow speeds are useful in low-lighting. Slow speeds will blur the subject if there is movement. Ever see the cool pictures with blurred car lights on the street? That’s a slow shutter speed.
Use a tripod or something else to prop the camera on so your hand shaking doesn’t warp the picture. That’s right. Your own hand shaking (even a little) will cause blurred images on slow shutter speeds.
shutter speed photography
“Zoom Zoom” captured by giovanna tucker

Taking pictures at different times of day, in different locations, should give you an idea of the different combinations of aperture and shutter speed that will work for to get that shot you’re looking for. Now that we’ve covered the basics, get out there and have some fun! Best of luck!

About the Author:
Owen Fisher writes for Nu Image Studios (, a Knoxville-based team of photographers who shoot weddings and portraits in the Southeast.


A special thanks to PictureCorrect and the authors:  Owen Fisher and Wayne Rasku for their contributions on today's articles.


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