My aunt is a wonderful person, almost saintly, but when it comes to DSLRs she’s definitely not used to big cameras. I asked her to take some pictures of my wife and I and got photos where you can see our heads at the very bottom of a vertical frame and a whole lot of sky.
Knowing she was used to framing with a point-and-shoot camera I should have thought to turn on Live View and let her frame like she’s used to with the smaller camera.
My experience with a stand-in photographer points out the reality that having a better camera will not help anyone take better pictures. More than a few people have gone through the puzzling and frustrating experience of getting a new camera only to discover they’re still taking the same bad pictures. Today I’d like to go over some basics that will definitely raise the wow factor of a new camera.
Part of the difficulty in framing is learning to separate what your eye sees from what the camera sees. When you look at a scene with two people your eyes and brain work together to limit visual focus to the subjects. You see all the background, but your brain screens it out.
Your camera doesn’t have that selective focus, so when you take a picture it captures all that background to scale with the subjects. That’s why when you look at the pictures later there seem to be two miniature people in a landscape photo. It didn’t look like that when you were looking at the scene through your eyes because your brain automatically crops the background for you.
So you have to learn to help your camera by limiting all that background. To do that learn how your camera zoom feature works and physically get in close with your subjects. Get in so close you can’t fit all of their face in the frame, then take a step back. You’ll be amazed how much better your pictures look.
Take Lots of Pictures
My aunt took one picture and thought we were done. I asked her to please just hold the button down a few seconds and she said it kept clicking, which is exactly the idea.
The way I look at it is that even a blind sow can get an acorn once in a while, so the more photos you take, the more likely you are to get a good one.
National Geographic photographers are the best in the world and, if anyone could be counted on to make the first shot count, it would be them. Yet they turn in anywhere from 25,000 to 60,000 photos for every assignment. Out those thousands, the magazine will pick 10 or 20 of the very best.
Try Odd Angles
Let yourself run wild when you’re taking pictures. Hold the camera up over your head, hold it down low, or even tilt it at funny angles. Anything to break up the monotony of straight ahead shots.
Some of my favorite photos are shots where I caught myself wondering why I even bothered to push the button.