Hi, Emily here from Just the 2 of Us…and a Cat guest blogging for Meg while she is having an amazing time in NYC! My blog entry today will focus on a few things to know about your DSLR that will help in the process of improving your photos.
So You Want to Take a Better Photo?
A little background: I have always had a love for photography. I minored in it in college and it was always something I wanted to pursue. After planning our wedding for about 13 months I was at a loss at what to do; then decided to use photography as my creative outlet. So for Christmas/Birthday 2009 (my bday is Christmas Eve) my husband surprised me with a shiny new Nikon DSLR! I practiced for around a year before I started having paying clients, and before Fleurish Imagery came into the picture. I did the following to improve my shots, and to move into strictly shooting in manual mode.
LEARN YOUR CAMERA. If you have a DSLR you have so many options other than the dreaded Auto mode. Switching to Manual mode can be scary, but if you practice at it you will definitely see a difference!
APERTURE: that little number that reads 2.8, 3.5, 4, etc… the lower that number the more open your lens is therefore more light will come in. If you have the basic “kit lenses” they probably only go to 3.5. If you are looking at getting a different lens definitely check out the “nifty fifty.” You can get the 50mm/1.8 for under $200 and produces some great photos, plus you have more apertures to work with which makes it great for low lighting. I do not like to go below 2.8 usually, especially for people. I could go on and on about this so if you have questions just let me know!
ISO: These numbers read 200, 400, 600, etc… So if it is a sunny day you will set that number at 200. Lower light = higher number!
SHUTTER SPEED: This reads as 1/60, 1/80, 1/200, 1/400 etc… This determines your shutter speed, or how fast or slow your lens opens and closes. I know everyone has had that photo with a blurry face, hand, leg… that means your shutter speed was not fast enough.
Also, learn your focus meter. This can be set in different modes. When you look through your view finder look at something you want to focus on hold your button down half way and you should see some little red squares pop up – that is what your camera is focusing on! When you learn your focus you will also learn how to get that pretty bokeh effect – or blurred background. Ahhh I love a good blurred background!
BOKEH: To create a blurry background like in the photo above you want to not have your subject up against the background, wall, etc… you also want to focus on the subject not the background. Below is one of my favorite bokeh shots and it was shot with the 18-55mm kit lens about a week after I got my camera. Our toasting flutes and champagne, and that in the background is our Christmas tree, which was about 10 feet away or so.
FLASH: I know we all cannot afford a big fancy flash so to avoid the harsh flash in the face photos look into buying a lightscoop. It is a handy tool that snaps on to your on camera flash and will help not to give you the bright white blown photos
You can buy one here.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE: It won’t come over night. I practiced for about a year. I started doing a lot of photo challenges in the blog world, photographed everything in my house, took my camera pretty much everywhere and I also picked up the book Understanding Exposure. It is a great book (which can be purchased on Amazon, or any book store) and really breaks everything down for you. You can also check out some intro classes. I know Houston has a Leisure Learning course for beginners, which is very informative and at an affordable price.
I hope you find these tips useful and with a little practice you will definitely see an improvement in your photos. I am always around to answer questions – feel free to stop by my blog, or shoot me an email as well. I will also leave you with one of my favorite shots from a recent wedding I shot:
Have a great week!