Out for a drive south of Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 6, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Purcari Winery, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist! Arrive December 8th.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

5 ways to improve your photography

I'm not a professional photographer by any means, but I do understand how photography works and how lighting and composition affects the final outcome. Some photos that I see on other blogs and on facebook could be so much better by following a few simple steps.

1) What you see is what you get.

When you're looking in the viewfinder or at the screen on your camera, think a little bit about what you're taking a picture of. Actually take the time to consider what it is that you're seeing. Look at what your background is, and what direction the light is coming from. That photo of you with a beautiful view in the background won't look so good with some tourist in the frame of the picture. Neither will it look good with the background crooked, or with the sun facing the wrong direction.

(A little hint...when you want to view a picture full screen, "right click" on the picture, then click "open in a new window"...this will bring up a full screen image, and when you're done you can just close the window, bringing you right back to where you were on the original website you were looking at. Try it!)

Could be a good photo of Kevin playing with Whiskey and Oso. 
Not so good with Ruth's shadow in the middle of it!

2) Give perspective.

Taking a photo of something abnormally large or small will always be better when you put something familiar in the photo. Easiest thing for comparison? Usually, another person.

Kevin, at the 1,400 year old Angel Oak Tree near Charleston, South Carolina.

3) Crop.

Landscape photos almost always look better in landscape format. Very often, a photo of landscape will have too much sky or too much foreground. Crop it out for a better looking photo, especially when viewing on today's 16 x 9 format computer screens and televisions.

From this...

To this!

4) Know your camera.

Take the time to read and understand what the various settings are on your camera. Even the most basic point and shoot has some settings that you can change to improve the chances of a good photo.

5) Use post processing software.

Every time your camera takes a picture, it uses automated software to process the picture to the best of it's ability. But for most cameras, it doesn't get it perfect most of the time. Even the very best cameras don't get it right all the time. Nor the best photographers. The whole key to using post processing software is not to OVER process!

The best free software I have found is from www.fotor.com where you can either adjust your photo online, or download their software (for free!) so that you can do it on your own time.

You can straighten...

Original photo with crooked ocean! (Taken at Playa del Carmen, Mexico)

Same photo, but with a level ocean this time!

You can lighten shaded areas...

Hiking in Guatemala (original photo)

Adjusted photo.

And of course a myriad of other adjustments. 

So, there are several things you can try. What it comes down to is a combination of them all. To come up with the very best photo, learn to judge the original photo through the viewfinder, then use any enhancing software sparingly to make the photo even better. Your photos will be real, and captivating!


17 comments:

  1. I found my pictures improved when I finally learned to take my lens cap off... :cO

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    1. I hope you learned that lesson quickly! ;)

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  2. Mine got better when I removed my fingers from the lens area.

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  3. On the landscape photography I would add, remember the rule of thirds. This applies to photographing people too. Don't just put them in the center. Here is a link to an explanation of this. Its really easy and it will improve your photography 100%. http://digital-photography-school.com/rule-of-thirds

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    1. Yes, you are right that is another good recommodation to add.

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  4. Your comment about over-processing is an important one. Sometimes the color is so enhanced or the contrast so stark, that it ruins an otherwise good shot. Good processing should be difficult to discern. Great blog.

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    1. Also it is so enchanced that it doesn't look real anymore.

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  5. So who was looking at the crooked ocean?

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    1. Same person who's shadow was in the picture on the first example. I'm learning! :)

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  6. Thanks Kevin. I always enjoy seeing your new - and old - photos. Good suggestions.

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  7. I use Picasa, a free on- line photo processing program. Like wise a supper easy to use program that can make all the difference in your pic. That's the beauty of digital!

    Cheers

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    1. So much easier with digital. Hard to believe how much money was wasted with film cameras.

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  8. You might want to check out this "extensive and extremely helpful" photography guide at sabisabi.com/photography.
    Sabi Sabi is a private game reserve in South Africa where you can book photo safaris.

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    1. Thanks Elaine, we will definitely have a look at that.

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  9. Excellent post! Mine photos get better when I remember to put the memory card back in. Ugh!
    Had some great shots of the Golden Spike Railroad Yard in North Platte. Now we will have to return one day...

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    1. Oh no, that must have felt terrible! Our worst fear is losing our photos. As you say, it just means another trip there one day and I am sure that wouldn't be a real hardship.

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