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5 Ways to Create Great Photographs Regardless of Your Camera

People often look at great photographs and portraits taken by a seasoned photographer and exclaim, “Wow, you have a great camera!”  Amazingly, they think the gear is the important factor, rather than the skill of the photographer. In reality, better gear increases the number of options for the photographer much more than the ability to create excellent photography.  A good photographer knows how to operate optimally within the limits of the equipment to create stunning photographs.  Read on to discover how you can do the same thing with this 5 great photography ideas.

1. All Equipment has Pro and Cons:
Sometimes, Lower-End Cameras have Advantages Over Higher-end Cameras

IMG_0167 It is said that the best camera is the one with you. SLR cameras with interchangeable lenses and add-on accessories are very versatile but they are heavy and take a lot of space.  On my first trip to Philmont, hiking, I took my SLR gear adding significant weight but on my second trip on horse back where my camera had to fit in a saddle bag and we had significant weight limits, I replaced the SLR with a 12X optical point-and-shoot digital camera which offered much of the value but could fit in my pocket.   Other than size and weight, features such as face detection, video, scene modes, macro, ruggedness and waterproof can be found in digital cameras from $99-$399, even though they are not available of would require costly additions to an SLR.   Besides, it’s always fun to freak out attendants at water parks when you drop into a water ride with a camera around your neck.

2. Read the Manual and Learn How to Exploit the Features on Your Camera

Pros take the time to know their cameras and how to use them fully. You can do the same thing. Your manual will explain your features and how to use them.  Most point-and-shoot cameras have sophisticated technology that solves issues that used to be complex tricks that only serious amateurs or pros knew.  These days, pros often still have to rely on their knowledge to set up these complex setting while those with point-and-shoot cameras simply change a scene mode.  Here are a few examples:

Face Detection – this feature automatically detects faces in the scene and makes certain the camera is set to focus and expose them correctly, even if there are many faces and they are on multiple planes in the scene. It will also optimize flash exposure and white balance with optimally for the detected faces. Some cameras will even detect and not take the shot until there is a smile.

Red Eye Prevention – The camera uses techniques like pre-flash and pixel color correction to automatically eliminate the red-eyes that can be generated with direct flash.

Special Picture Modes – By default, camera exposure meters assume an average scene.  The meter is fooled by scenes that are not average. This occurs when shooting scenes with significant bright white (beach, snow) or mostly black (night shots with people in the foreground).  Other common scene modes that optimize lower-end cameras for various complicated scenes are Underwater, Fireworks, Sunsets, Aquariums.

3. Previsualize the Image – Create, Don’t Take, Great Pictures

taraatsllanoThe best photographers practice imagining the image they want to create then asking themselves what has to be true to create that image. The more they develop this skill, the more they are able to see the best images when they are just taking pictures.  Or they can see a mediocre picture scene unfolding and rapidly move to transform that common scene into an uncommon, stunning photograph by adjusting their position, camera settings, or other factors.

4. Focus on Composition

LoversLeap-ro3Point-and-shoot cameras have limitations in speed, versatility and artificial lighting.  However, most composition mastery and creativity can be used on any camera.  Using composition concepts such as rule of thirds, framing, looking within the frame, looking off camera, alternate camera angles, leading lines, and filling the frame are common methods used to create wow factor in images. Shooting candidly enables you to capture unforced and intimate expressions.  Shooting a series of images using a variety of composition ideas is a great way to get practice, create stunning photography, and learn the power and different uses of these techniques.

5. Leverage Natural Light

cammi17aWhile the flash capabilities of today’s point-and-shoot digital cameras is very impressive compared to the past, it is still a major limitation and creates flat, frontal, boring light.  Its difficult to take great photography using the flash on these cameras. On the other hand, these cameras offer virtually identical capability using natural light.  Use window light, north facing light, edge light, and other diffused light concepts to get results similar to the best photography equipment.  If you want to really get serious, explore techniques of 3-point and other studio lighting learning how to recreate them outdoors. Don’t be afraid to experiment with light too.

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