Do you have a friend who manages to take the perfect picture every time? You both use basically the same equipment – usually your phone camera – and yet every time their pictures come out looking like part of a professional photo shoot, and yours are ether badly lit, blurred, or otherwise lacking in quality. You probably don’t understand how they do it, but chances are they just know a few photography basics better than you do. Not everybody is going to make a career in photography – and you may not even want to – but all of us are capable of getting a great shot when the moment calls for it.
We’re living in an increasingly visual age. Instagram is now almost as popular as Facebook is – and that’s despite the fact that Instagram is virtually a completely visual forum, where words are almost worthless, and pictures mean everything. Some people think that Instagram and sites like it are turning us into a generation of aesthetically-obsessed narcissists attempting to project perfect lives to the world. There may be elements of truth to that, but then there have always been posers. To focus on them is to disregard the work of millions of other photographers. Over one trillion photos were taken during 2017 – a figure that’s bound to be higher now – and we have to believe there are some beautiful and inspiring shots in there somewhere. If you want to take beautiful, inspiring pictures of your own, we have some tips for you!
Never Take A Single Shot
The idea of taking one single photo is a hangover from the days when we had limited amounts of film. If you had a roll of film in your point-and-click camera which could only develop 35 pictures, you couldn’t afford to waste any of them by trying to repeat a pose multiple times. It’s 2019 now. You have a powerful camera in the palm of your hand, and the only limit to how many pictures you can take is how much storage you have on your device. That means you should take pictures in bursts, not single presses.
By taking a burst of photos over a period of a few seconds, you’re giving yourself the chance to discard the bad shots and home in on the good ones. It’s like playing mobile slots. If you put money into a mobile slots game, span the reels one, and then walked away if you didn’t win anything, you’d never get anything out of them at all. If you stay in front of the mobile slots game and carried on betting, you’ll eventually see some money coming out of the other end because of the law of averages. Repeat bets is a winning strategy on mobiles slots websites such as Late Casino. Repeat shots is a winning strategy with photography.
If everyone else’s photos look better than yours, they’re probably up to more digital trickery than you imagine. You might just be uploading your shots straight to social media from your phone or camera as soon as you’ve taken them. Both Facebook and Instagram have some basic filtering tools, but they’re nothing like as powerful as the range of options available to you within Photoshop.
Debate constantly rages about whether using Photoshop is cheating or not. Some people feel it’s having a negative impact on the way people see themselves and the world around them. Other experts think Photoshopping can actually improve your mental health. We think that’s a little dramatic – but it can definitely sort out the lighting, contrast, sharpness, and smoothness of your pictures with the touch of a few buttons.
Clean The Lens With A Dry Cloth
Your phone probably spends most of its time in a potentially dirty environment. It’s on tables which have been covered in food. It’s in your pocket, which might be full of lint. When it’s not there, it might be in a bag, rubbing against other objects. Your phone’s case might prevent the screen from getting scratched, but it’s probably not dong anything for the lens. That’s a problem.
Even if the lens of your camera may not physically appear dirty, the slightest speck of dust, or even a hint of a fingerprint, can make it harder for the lens to focus in the way that it should do. This leads to blurring, and also the orb effect you sometimes get on pictures (the one that some conspiracy theorists claim to be ghosts). If you know you’re going somewhere you’ll be taking pictures, clean the lens first, and bring along a cloth.
Trust The Gridlines
Have you ever wondered why there are grid lines on your display when you go to take a picture? You might even have decided they’re an irritation, and turned them off. Don’t do that – they’re there to assist you with composition. There’s a theory about photography called ‘the rule of thirds,’ and the gridlines are all about helping you to take pictures in accordance with the principles of that theory.
The ‘rule of thirds’ says that every picture should be split into three components lengthways, and three components vertically. Points of interest within the thirds should be placed where gridlines meet. There’s no mathematical formula for why this should be the case – it just seems to be the way the human eye prefers to see pictures. Make sure whatever (or whomever) you’re photographing is lined up with the gridlines, and your image will appear more balanced.
Tap to Focus
We apologize to anybody who already knows this – but we know that not everybody does. If you press hard on your screen while trying to take a picture, it probably just takes the picture in the same way it would if you pressed the shutter button. Hit the screen with one very gentle tap, however, and something different will happen. A yellow square will appear on the screen, and it might even begin moving.
This yellow square is indicating your camera’s point of focus. If you take a picture while it’s there, it will focus its attention on whatever you’ve indicated, and sharpen it, while slightly blurring the background. This is an excellent way to hone in on fine details. It can even be used to track a moving subject, and therefore get a better motion shot of them. Using it effectively requires a little trial and error – but it’s easy once you’ve got to grips with it.
Once you’ve become comfortable with all of the above, you’ll find that you can capture great snaps regularly. The next step up would be to buy a camera tripod – but they’re not the easiest things to carry around with you on a night out! Remember – use the grid, use the focus tools, and take pictures in bursts. Then wait until you get home to edit them before you put them online!