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Tips for Beginners in Photography

August 5th, 2013 Inspirational

With the availability of digital cameras and the sharing power of social media, just about everyone can take and share great photos. If you feel the photos you wind up with aren't as visually appealing as you'd like, try using a few of these tips to get great shots.

Composition
The way your photo is set up will greatly affect how it looks in the end. You may have seen iconic images of photographers and directors making a box with their fingers to find the perfect shot. While you don't have to use this technique, it's generally good to have an idea of what you want in the frame before you take the picture. Try using the "rule of thirds," suggests Digital Photography School. Simply divide your desired image into three layers both vertically and horizontally. This process will break your image down into nine squares. The basic idea is to have the most interesting parts of your subject fall on one of the intersecting lines in the grid. This will often result in having parts of the photo appear to be blank but that arrangement can be unexpectedly powerful.

Another common tip is to simply get closer to your subject. Professional photographers will often go to great pains to get the desired shot but many times just taking a few steps toward your subject will help. Changing the angle of the photo can also be good for smaller items, so sometimes it's best to crouch or kneel down to get a desirable perspective.

Lighting and light balance
Most digital cameras have automatic settings for lighting that can be very effective much of the time. However, some settings may not have the correct amount of light balance or appear too light or dark. If this happens, try altering some of the settings. In areas with mixed light, it can be hard for your camera to figure out what kind of lighting is best, notes PCWorld. In this case, try manually adjusting the white balance, often shortened to WB. You may also want to experiment with turning the flash on or off, even in areas that seem to be well-lit, in order to eliminate shadows.

Portraits
Many people get into photography to capture quality images of their friends and family or even strangers in interesting situations. Many of the tips above are also relevant in portrait photography, such as getting in closer, finding ideal lighting and using the rule of thirds. However, there are a few subtleties in portrait photography that can go beyond those basic rules. 

National Geographic photographer Robert Caputo defines portrait and candid as the two methods for photographing people. Environment is key for both types but can be very useful in staged, portrait shots. Since the photographer has control over the layout of the background, there is the opportunity for letting the image inform the viewer about the subject. Placing people among their own belongings or in their most comfortable setting can let the viewer see a real-feeling side of the subject. Showing physical details of someone with a particular lifestyle can also be very powerful, like the hands of an artist.

For candid photos, the main goal is to be unobtrusive. The best candid shots will most likely be captured when the subject doesn't know or isn't concerned that the photographer is there. However, it's important to only photograph people unexpectedly in public places where it is considered generally acceptable. Most of the time if someone is outside in a public area, it's considered fair game.