As I can see from your social media activity, you are into
photography as much as I am. You’ve got expensive DSLR cameras,
Go Pro’s, I Phone’s, Android Smart Phones and you visit beautiful
destinations with plenty of opportunities for great pictures.
With this article I want to motivate you to go out even more, to check
out every corner of your hometown, the place you currently live in and
your bucket list dream destinations. I also want you to become a
much better photographer. There is only a few things you need to know
to boost the quality of your photos without any expensive gear and
without reading boring photography guide books.
Rule number 1: The light is your best friend!
It took me quite a while to realize how important it is to use light to
your advantage. After a year in Australia and a few months on the road
in South East Asia and South America I noticed that I took my best
pictures during this “magic light time”. Usually the best time for
pictures is either in the morning or in the evening. To make things
short: don’t waste your time taking too many photos between 11 a.m.
and 3 p.m.!
Rule Number 2: A few things about grid lines!
Alright, grab your camera or smartphone now and do me a favour:
enable grid lines, please. Grid lines are these two horizontal and two
vertical lines on your screen which look completely annoying but they
are so damn helpful! You should also use one of the horizontal lines to
level the horizon. Have you ever heard of the “rule of thirds“? The rule
of thirds requires you to break an image into three equal parts either
vertically, horizontally or both. Your goal should be to place key
compositional elements into those thirds.
Rule number 3: Dreamteam ISO, shutter speed and aperture!
Well, these words show up every time when you google something like
DSLR tutorial and every time the explanations you get are more
confusing than helpful. I don’t want to bore you with definitions and
how ISO, SS, and F work together. I only want to encourage you to
always use the A-mode (Av-mode for Canon) when you take pictures
under normal light conditions! When shooting in this mode, you only
need to adjust the aperture to get the most out of your pictures. Shutter
speed and ISO will be set up automatically. Don’t worry about that. You
might be wondering what aperture does to your pictures? Easy! The
lower the aperture the more depth of field you give to your picture
(objects in the front are sharp whereas objects in the background are
blurry). Play with it a little bit and you will see how powerful it is and
how much fun it can be to adjust it in certain situations.
Rule number 4: Go out and do it! Every time. Every day.
This is a simple rule to follow. It’s really as easy as that: The more
pictures you take, the more skills you gain and the better you become.
Learning by doing. This is it! You only get to know your camera by
taking pictures, not by reading the handbook or adjust the settings in
your room. Go out and explore! It’s fun and an awesome hobby.
Rule number 5: Make yourself uncomfortable! Get dirty! Take
Sounds bad, right? Why should you take risks, lay down on the floor,
climb volcanoes, hills or spiky rocks? Because you will take the picture
no one else has! Your pictures should be different, at least a little bit. You
approach a beautiful beach and normally you just stand there and take
a picture of it. Nothing special. Search for a palm tree you could climb,
an abandoned fishing boat you could jump on, rock formations you
could use as your advantage and take a few shots from above. Lie
down in the sand and take a picture from below. Step into the water
and include the surface of your ocean. Just use obstacles and anything
you could find to boost the quality of your photo. But always be careful,
Rule number 6: Only for couples and selfie enthusiasts: Dress
This rule doesn’t need a lot of explanation. Before you go out with the
intention to take beautiful sunset pictures with your signifcant other,
grab your favourite dress, style your hair and put on some makeup.
Easy. You should also match the colors of your outfit with your scene.
Why would you wear a green top with black shorts when you take
pictures in the forest? Right. You got the point.
Rule number 7: Use a tripod for more sharpness and the most
memorable couple shots!
Quite a few times we asked other people to take a picture of us
standing somewhere nice, with this perfect background. 99% chance
the one who’s taking the picture doesn’t have a clue about positioning
and composition. The perfect background is not even on the picture
anymore, the photo is blurry cause this someone couldn’t hold still
while pressing the shutter or he or she didn’t even press the shutter!
No picture at all on the SD card. Forget about it! Take your tripod and 5
minutes of your time to set it up how you like it. You won’t regret! Your
pictures are sharp, you positioned yourself where you want to be on
the shot and you can completely be yourself on the picture. All worth
Rule number 8: Use a photo editing software!
There is plenty of amazing post processing software on the market. It’s
incredible how much more you can get out of your picture with just a
few clicks. If you have a laptop I recommend you to invest in
Photoshop Lightroom: easy to use, powerful, good for organizing your
shots and you can easily watermark your pictures. On top of that you
can use Google Nik which is free to get. I absolutely love this
combination! If you just use your smartphone I can totally recommend
Snapseed and VSCO. These two are extremely powerful editing apps
with a lot of filters to choose from.
Rule number 9: Audience. HERE I AM! THIS IS MY PICTURE!
You've spent quite a while to find a nice spot for your picture, you
climbed rocks, got dirty and managed to take the picture at the right
time. After importing it on your laptop and editing it a little bit with
Lightroom and Snapseed you export it on your phone to check out
your photo on a proper retina display. You are completely stunned.
This shot is awesome! The colors, the composition, the scene itself.
Everything is perfect in this photo. You should present it to the world
and other people with a sense for quality travel pictures. Share it on
Facebook, Instagram, 500px or any other photo sharing
platform. Don’t just leave the picture on your hard drive and forget
Expert rule: Shoot in RAW!
When I used my small compact camera before, I didn’t care at all
about RAW. I didn’t even know what it is. Now that my camera has
the option to either save the pictures in RAW or JPEG and after a little
bit of researching about pros and cons, I am telling everybody: Shoot
in RAW! Why? What’s the difference? It’s easy: If you’re shooting in
JPG, then the camera will process the image for you, based on pre de
fined profiles. Your camera will let you define these profiles —
changing things like contrast, saturation, and sharpness, and will apply
them to the JPG.
This is why I always recommend shooting in RAW — it’s more work but it puts you firmly in control of the image editing
process, rather than letting your camera make all the decisions for
you. RAW files also contain a lot more data about the photo, giving you
much more control over your finished image.
And now, grab your camera, your best friend, travelmate, family
member or even your beloved pet and go shooting! You will see that by
following these rules your results will improve in no time and you will
have a lot more fun taking amazing photos.