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Photography Tips to Help You Capture Memorable Moments – Part 2

Welcome to Part Two of my photography tips for the non-professional photographer!  I’ve survived my photography years as a native islander living in a picturesque setting and as a proud soccer mom with just a point-and-shoot camera. I have taken some boast-worthy photos without the aid of fancy, expensive cameras. You can too!

First of all, some of the advice given to you in Part 1 applies here as well.  Getting closer to your subject is always advisable over using the zoom.  Make sure your subjects are in focus before taking the photo. Early morning light and late afternoon still provide softer/better light for your photos. Professional photographers swear by “The Golden Hour”, a phrase coined to refer to roughly the hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset.

The best piece of advice I’d give you (that made the biggest difference for me) is quite simple – shoot everywhere, shoot always, and shoot LOTS! Times were different BDC (before digital cameras).  I remember my family returning from a summer vacation in Colorado (during my school-age days) with several paper grocery bags full of rolls of film.  Were all of those photos in focus? Were they all well-lit? I can answer both with a resounding “No!” without even remembering the photographs.  That was the “fun” of film developing – we wouldn’t know which would be good photographs until they were developed. So, what’s stopping you from being a shutter-happy vacation bug capturing all of the most awesome moments on digital film? We have it so much easier now with the ability to preview the photos before and after as well as deleting blurry, dim-lit photos with heads cropped half off.  Where has the fun gone? Ha, so you understand why I’m not cutting you any slack! There’s no good reason to miss photo opportunities amply provided on vacation. I won’t hear of it!

Are you antsy for some technical know-how to impress your family and friends? Alright, let’s get started! There is an age old photography guideline known as the Rule of Thirds. The Rule of Thirds takes the image and cuts it up into nine equal parts using two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. These divide the image into three segments. You should consider placing your image’s point(s) of interest along the gridlines or intersections. Those who stand by this rule believe the eye is drawn to those points, thus the reason for placing object(s) of interest along the intersections and lines of the grid.

Many cameras come equipped with the option of setting up your screen with the rule of thirds grid. This takes the guesswork out of it. Once you’ve had the grid up for a while, you’ll be able to visualize it without needing it on the viewfinder. My iPhone even has the ability to set the grid pattern on the screen when in camera mode.

Remember our discussion about digital zoom? Some point and shoot cameras are equipped with an optical zoom while many others have strictly a digital zoom.  Double-check to see if you have a digital zoom or if you’re blessed with an optical zoom.  If you have a digital zoom, then my advice remains as it did with a smartphone – don’t use it!  Move closer to your subject or take the photo from far away and then crop. Any questions as to why I say that (that must mean you didn’t read Part One of the blog), check out Part 1 of my photography blog.

If you have an optical zoom, you are allowed to zoom!  That’s right, go ahead and zoom. Or as Mazda used to say…Zoom Zoom.  Does having a workable zoom excuse you from trying to get closer to your subject? No! Getting closer to your subject is preferable.  But! You are in luck with a zoom that can hone in on an image without compromising image quality right away. The reason is that because an optical zoom physically changes how far the lens is from the sensor.  A digital zoom on the other hand, simply forces the camera to create the picture from one portion of the sensor rather than the whole thing.      

Sport your creative cap when you photograph. Get on eye level with your subject.  Are you shooting photos of a child?  If so, get down on the child’s level.  Try different angles with your photos.  Shoot down at a subject (bird’s eye view), shoot up at a subject (worm’s eye view), position your subject on the left or right of the screen… Think “outside the box”.  Notice the details your scene can tell.  Details tell stories.  This is your chance to tell a story through your photos! I read one article by a photographer that has really stuck with me.  He said, “Shoot moments, not just a subject.”  So, relax and enjoy the moment!  Your photography is a way to capture that moment and tell it again and again.

Let’s talk about light.  Play with lighting, experiment with it; learn the nuances of different light and how it affects the scene and subject. Indirect light is always going to be kinder to your subject than direct light. Indirect = softer feel to your photo while direct = harsher photo. Try to get the main source of light behind you. If you wish to get fancy and dabble with the technical details, you can adjust the aperture (amount of light used in a photo) or f-stop value. The higher the value, the less light that enters. 

There are all kinds of nifty tricks available once you venture into a more manual mode with a point and shoot or DSLR camera.  The world of photography opens up!  Regardless, you can use the various settings available on a point and shoot without having to venture into manual mode – and still take stellar photos! 

Do you sense a surge of confidence steeling your nerves? Ready to grab that camera and shoot? Well, what are you waiting for?  Go! (And feel free to share your masterpieces with us!)

Tips to remember on your next shoot:

• The Golden Hour
• Digital vs Optical Zoom
• Rule of Thirds
• Creative Positioning
• Capture moments
• Light(s) …camera, action!

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