Since the first consumer digital cameras appeared in the mid-1990s, taking good quality photos became surprisingly easier. However, new technologies have raised the game. Having top-shelf gear is not enough to make you a good photographer. If you want to stand out in the swarm of digital shutterbugs, there are some skills to learn. These eight tips will help you develop the big picture.
Become a master of your camera
As you would learn all your new smartphone’s powers in less than a week, you should get familiar with your camera’s settings. It doesn’t matter if you are using your LG’s 4K camera or playing with your DSLR dial, every mode and symbol has its use and function. And the best way to learn them is to practice every day.
Learn how to shoot portraits
With a right subject who is willing to pose for more dramatic and intimate shots, you can experiment with light, distance and body language. The idea is to create evocative, expressive images that communicate more than it meets the eye. And don’t fall for that shot-from-above fad.
Make a DIY Steadicam
A perfect tool for shooting steady photos on the go, a Steadicam also eliminates shaky hands of beginners and senior photographers alike. The odds are that you cannot hold your DSLR and breathe steadily like a Marine sniper. What you can do is build a DIY Steadicam, even for your phone.
Invest in portable lighting
Lighting is an essential part of photography, especially if you are taking portraits or photos of objects. Still, good lighting does not have to be expensive. One brilliant idea is to make a flexible, faux leather LED lighting panel, using cheap LED strips of different color temperature so you could fade between cool and warm whites.
Use a tripod or mount
From the time immemorial, tripod has been photographer’s best friend in creating perfectly still, stable shots. Even with a military grade night vision camera, taking photos at night is always challenging. A fixed mount removes the last bit of shaking that would otherwise go unnoticed in daytime shots. The best part is that you can make almost any kind of tripod or mount with parts like bolts and nuts from your garage or the nearest hardware store.
Discover the secrets of time-lapse photography
The sun rising above the city in morning rush or a star field spinning across the night sky – we all love those time-lapse videos. The whole idea is to take photos in pre-defined intervals for a much longer period and then merge them into a video. You will need an inexpensive device called intervalometer, which is a remote trigger with a time setting.
Upgrade your DSLR with a Wi-Fi SD card
This technical add-on is perfect for photographers working big events like weddings, conventions and exhibitions. It gives you the ability to take tons of photos and store them on your computer or share them with portable devices.
Build an inexpensive light tent
If you are planning to take a lot of photos of small objects like collectibles or sales items, you will need a light box. They are sold at about $100 – a bit too much for a cardboard box, some fabric and three fluorescent or full-spectrum bulbs. Making a collapsible, pop-up light tent is both educational and fun. Avoid using regular daylight bulbs, as they create unnatural yellow luster.
Even with dazzling performance of today’s cameras, it is the skills that separates photographers from backyard snappers. Developing those skills takes time, but luckily many tools and aids can be made at home for a fraction of the retail price.