7 Surprising Tips to Level Up Your Photography
You have a state of the art DSLR, some top-notch lenses and great accessories but your photos don’t stand out.
You’ve honed your craft with advice from magazines, books and blogs, taken hundreds of pictures but there is still something missing.
Surely with the equipment you have, you should be creating something special? You’re worried you lack the talent, that you will never create something with real WOW factor. Your dream is to make a mark but even with all this investment in money and time, you feel that dream slipping away.
But what if you stop following every convention? Be daring, break a rule. After all those rules are just guidelines, made to be broken when you know how. If you are floating in a sea of similar images, take control, grab hold of the tiller and steer a different course.
In the words of Robert Frost take “…the road less travelled by”
Try these 7 surprising tips -
1. Ditch the Rule of Thirds.
OK, so it works a lot of the time to create a picture people feel comfortable with. But you are not always after comfortable. A gritty urban landscape may be asking to be cut in two, A perfect reflection might benefit from the symmetry. A small detail in a vast landscape may look too prominent at a power point. Think about what you are trying to portray emotionally as well as visually.
2. Shoot in any light.
The golden hour is great for soft, warm light, but is that really all you ever want? Go out in the middle of the day and work with shadows and abstract patterns for edgy black and white images. Get moody with long exposures in stormy light.
3. Don’t make everything pin sharp.
It’s easy to be led into believing everything needs to be so sharp you could cut yourself. Some motion blur can add an arty or dreamy effect that is great to use for craft projects or to add texture to other shots. They are also fantastic when use with your favourite quotes or sayings. Having just a small amount of the frame in focus can bring attention directly to the focal point and create a minimalist work.
4. Over or Under expose.
We are trained to look at our histograms and set exposure to create a nice normal curve. But what if we push that curve up or down? A high key image can create a magical, ethereal feel like a half-remembered dream. A low-key image has the opposite effect of producing a dystopian feel. How far can we push this?
Over or under exposing can also make your shot look more like the scene you actually saw. This is true of snow scenes that your camera will underexpose and make the snow look grey and sunsets where the camera over exposes loosing the low light and colour in the sky.
5. Don’t take more pictures.
Take more time. Look at your results on the screen and ask yourself how you might improve it, what you could do differently. Change your settings, change your viewpoint, wait for different light. You will take fewer shots but end up with a higher percentage of good ones. You’ll also become more familiar with exactly what your camera can do.
6. Don’t hide.
Get your subject accustomed to you and your camera. Wildlife shots will be more engaging if the animals or birds are as inquisitive about you as you are about them. You are also free to move around and get a great background or the best incident light. There is something quite magical about getting to know your subject intimately and developing trust.
7. Tell a better story.
Don’t always go for the portrait style image with your subject taking up most of the frame. Tell more of the story by including the setting, show how small and vulnerable the subject is placed in its surroundings. Give the viewer a glimpse of the place it can be found. Try and show the activities it may be engaged in even if that is keeping a wary eye on you.
Call to Action
Next time you are out with your camera, consider which of these alternative ideas might work best for the photographs you want to take. Take some shots you would normally take, then really work the scene by making some of these changes.
Don’t worry if the light isn’t perfect for your planned expedition, just look for subjects that bring out the character of the light and weather.
You will soon get to know your gear much better and find the voice you are looking for.
It’s time to get shooting :-)