Today just about everyone has a camera, it can be a camera on your phone, a simple point and shoot pocket camera, or an expensive DSLR camera. Today, like never before, we like to document our lives and share it with other people. However, sometimes we just can`t capture the beauty of the event in the pictures we take and the photos look dull and unexciting. “Why are my pictures so boring compared to others? Can any camera produce good pictures? How do I take better pictures? What makes a good picture good?”
So you have decided to go for a vacation, you have planned your route, your schedule, and you have all the gear necessary for the trip. You are ready to go. Are you? If you haven’t learned some basic photography you’ll probably take poor pictures and will miss capturing those beautiful moments. An important part of the preparation is to learn some basic skills in photography.
There are some basic rules that if one follows, will upgrade one`s picture by far. A good photographer will take a better picture with a cheap camera than a bad photographer with an expensive one. So no matter which camera you use, the technique is what really counts.
We will look now at some common scenes of which you will probably take pictures while on vacation.
You are standing at an observation point, looking at the vista. It’s stunning. You pull out your camera and you take a photo, but when you look at the picture on the camera`s screen, it just doesn`t reflect the real sense of the place. “What am I doing wrong?” you think to yourself. Follow the next guidelines and your landscape pictures will make people say “Wow”!
Composition can be the difference between sending a picture to a photography competition or sending it to the recycle bin. So what are the rules of a good composition?
The Rule of Thirds
John Thomas Smith was the first to write down this rule in his book Remarks on Rural Scenery in 1797. But this rule had been used years before.
We have a tendency to place our object in the middle of the frame. It can be a flower, a person or a horizon. That is a common mistake and it creates a boring picture.
To avoid that mistake we need to divide our frame into 9 squares or into thirds. Like so
– Many cameras have a built in function that shows this grid on the camera screen-use it!
Now we are ready to compose the picture properly. For landscape we would want to position the horizon on one of the horizontal lines. In other words, the horizon should be a third from the bottom or a third from the top. Witch one to choose? It depends on the situation. If you have an interesting skyscape scattered with clouds, you would want to have more sky in the picture, therefore placing the horizon on the bottom third.
But if the sky is all grey and overcast, or it`s all plain blue with no clouds at all, you will want to keep the horizon high to minimize the amount of boring sky in the frame.
Foreground and Proportions
Placing an object in the foreground of a landscape gives the picture more depth. Art masters found that placing an object on the intersection points makes the picture much more pleasing to the eye, so try to aim for those points. The object can be a rock, a flower, a tree, a person or want ever looks interesting to you.
Diagonals in photography
Lines and geometric objects create interesting pictures; they attract our attention and guide our eyes around the picture. When you compose your picture try to find diagonal guidelines that will draw the eye into the frame. Lines that start at one of the corners will make a better composition.
Not every place you visit will have exciting scenery or interesting objects to photograph, however sometimes you would simply like to record what you saw when you were there. So use the rule of thirds to make the most out of what you have. Like in this picture of a village in Nepal.
EXTRA TIP – Use the grid function on your camera screen to keep the horizon leveled, a picture with a crooked horizon is very amateur looking.
So now you know how to compose the picture and where to place key objects in the frame. That alone will improve your pictures tremendously! But there is one more thing to pay attention to, it`s the special ingredient of fabulous photography; it`s the light! Normally that will come from the sun, and because the sun shifts with time, timing is the key. Obviously when you are traveling you can`t always wait for the perfect light and the perfect timing, but knowing which light is best and when to get it will make you a better photographer and you will take better pictures.
What is The Best Time for Taking Pictures?
If you mount your camera on a tripod in the morning and compose a shot, and then take the same picture few hours later the two pictures will look and feel very different. In fact, sometimes even a few minutes are enough to show a change of light or weather.
The rule of thumb says that the best light is at sunrise and sunset, AKA the magic hour. Just before sunrise you can get a cool blue light that will produce no shadows, low contrast shots.
As the sun rises the light becomes warmer and redder. Then after an hour or two the light will be too hard and will make harsh shadows and high contrast thus bad pictures.
Then when the sun is starting to set the light becomes warmer again and more flattering
Bear in mind that some great pictures were made by breaking those rules. Try to play around with different compositions and different lights. Read your camera’s manual and get to know all the functions in it. The more you learn and practice the better your pictures will be.
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