Nowadays, everyone has a camera on their phone and many people even go the extra mile to purchase a point and shoot camera or even a DSLR. Images are also much easier to share now than they were in the past.
Photography is a great way to preserve and share memories, whether it’s a big vacation or the delicious lunch you cooked yourself. And you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on high-end equipment or classes to capture share-worthy photos.
Here are some tips that will help you make the most out of your camera.
1. Don’t rely on auto
While making sense of all the settings on your camera can be daunting, there are some basic things you can keep in mind.
One issue I see a lot in photographs is autofocus. Some cameras have better autofocus than others, but in general, it’s always best to double check whether you have the right subject to focus on. If you’re having trouble getting your camera to focus on the subject you want, try changing the angle. Also, small targets are harder for a camera to pick up on, so if the subject is something tiny, you might be better off finding another subject.
2. White balance
White balance is another thing that can really affect the quality of a photo. Auto white balance is very unreliable. Different environments can create subtle color differences that you don’t notice because your brain tunes it out, but cameras definitely pick up on it. Make sure your white balance matches the lighting of the scene.
Flash isn’t always necessary and sometimes it can really mess up a photo. If the subject is too close to the camera, the flash will cause them to be washed out, and if the subject is too close to the background, the flash can create harsh shadows that distract from the subject of the photo.
Speaking of low lighting, stay as still as possible when taking a photo, especially if you’re zooming in. We tend to tune out our subtle movements but they are magnified by cameras.
4. Watch Your Surroundings
I can’t count how many pictures I’ve messed up by tuning out background clutter and realizing too late that it made the picture look unsightly. Make sure the background is clean and free of any distracting elements. This includes things like trees and telephones seemingly growing out of people’s heads. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but if it’s too noticeable, it can make a photo look goofy.
Also, keep an eye on things beyond the frame. It can be easy to forget that you’re on a crowded street or in the path of traffic. If you need to take a step back, look behind you first. This might seem like common sense, but I’ve seen people step right into giant puddles or even come close to falling off cliffs, and of course colliding with other pedestrians.
5. Take Care of Your Equipment
Whether it’s an old phone or a brand-new DSLR, cameras are sensitive to damage; lenses can get scratched or dusty, water can mess with the electronics, SD cards can get corrupted, etc.
Keeping basic cleaning equipment in your gear can help mitigate a lot of this damage. Extreme heat or cold can do a lot of damage to electronics, so it’s best to avoid taking your camera out in extreme temperatures at all if possible. Rain and snow are also huge problems. If you have to take your camera out in the rain, cover it as much as possible with something waterproof or at least water-resistant. If you know conditions are going to be rainy or misty, consider investing in a protective plastic covering.
Keep your camera in its bag when not in use, or at least in a designated area where it’s safe from the elements and wayward children or pets. If your camera is your phone, invest in a good phone case and keep an eye out for scratches on the lens.
You don’t need a DSLR or a professional product to take great pictures. And you don’t have to be on an exotic vacation, either. By developing your photographic eye, you can turn a mundane moment into something magical and turn a magical moment into a timeless one.