This post was originally published on August 18, 2018, and updated on (October 7, 2019)
Do YOU WANT TO BETTER YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS, follow this guide
You got a new DSLR camera and you probably tried learning on your own but all the different buttons and settings were too much and you went back to using auto mode. Or even going back to using your cell phone. Don’t let this get you down.
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Exposure is the basic foundation of photography skills and is essential in creating high-quality images. Exposure should be simple. After all, it’s just a matter of making sure that the right amount of light hits the sensor when you take a photo. Exposure is quite simple once you get the basic understanding.
I wrote an article recently on how simple it is to begin using manual mode. You can read more about it here.
digital cameras vs cell phone
Many people are buying digital cameras (which makes my heart sing … lol) but they are stuck with how to actually use all the features these DSLR cameras have to offer. You don’t know what you are missing if you only shoot in auto mode. These cameras can produce such beautiful enticing images. Can you tell I have a passion for photography?
Most of the time on my photoshoots, I have been asked for advice on various things regarding certain functions. I am always more than happy to help anyone out. I am so happy to see more and more people buying DSLR cameras. There was a time in the not-so-distant past that I thought digital cameras would become extinct because everyone was just using their souped-up cell phones.
Yes, cell phones have amazing camera functions. I have one of those too. But I can never just rely on just my cell phone. I still take my camera everywhere with me. As I am sure you have already heard me say before.
raw files vs jpeg
When selecting the settings in your camera, remember to choose RAW if you want quality images and JPEG for speed and convenience. A RAW file contains all the information collected by your camera’s sensor at the time of exposure in an unprocessed form.
It needs to be processed by a software such as Lightroom or Photoshop to transform it into a jpeg or png or tiff file that other programs can display or use. When in RAW format, you can alter the white balance or any other slight imperfections that you decide will make the image according to the way you see fit.
the exposure triangle
When you have a general understanding of the triangle exposure system: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, the rest will come easy. These are the only three variables that you can adjust when it comes to exposure. Every photo uses a combination of these three settings.
improving your photography
The first way to improve your photography is to practice often. Start with shooting outside in natural light. Shooting in natural light conditions will teach you how to control your exposure settings.
The best time to shoot outdoors is on a cloudy day. Even shooting at the Golden Hour, as many photographers love. It’s the best time of day. When the sun is beginning to set. Right up until the time the sun leaves the horizon. You get the most amazing photos at that time. Also, shooting bright and early in the morning before the sun comes up.
You pretty much want to avoid strong sunlight. But there are days that the sun is out all day. What then you may ask? No worries. There are ways working with the sunlight if you have to. Here are some quick tips to follow that will help with shooting outdoors.
5 Tips To Improve Your Outdoor Shots
ALWAYS FOCUS ON THE EYES
* The eyes are the windows to the soul and should be the focal point of any good portrait. Not only are the eyes the most important part of a good portrait, but they are the sharpest element on the face and should be left that way. With that being said, make sure no one is wearing sunglasses.
* As in the photo below, I concentrated on getting the young man in focus. And I did that by focusing on his eyes and making sure they were in perfect focus.
SHOOT IN THE SHADE (Avoid Direct Sunlight)
* Direct sunlight is harsh, makes your subject squint, and creates hard directional shadows. When shooting in the shade, there are no more harsh shadows, only smooth milky shadows created by your subject’s natural features. In the photography world, there is something called “The Golden Hour”. My kids have that carved in their brain . . . lol. “Yes mom . . . I know what that means”
* This is when the sun just begins to set . . . when the sky turns a beautiful golden colour and the sun is not so harsh. Another best time to shoot is very early in the morning as the sun begins to rise. Never tried that one yet . . . not a morning person (bah-ha-ha)
* As you see in the photo below, this wedding day that I shot was in the middle of the day, on a beach (as desired by the couple) in full sunlight. What a day that was. It was supposed to be overcast. But you have to make due. As I did here. I found a little shading under some beautiful tall trees. A photographers paradise. Lol!!
IF YOU MUST USE BRIGHT LIGHT . . .
* Putting the sun directly behind your subject isn’t a good idea unless you are trying to make a silhouette. You will not see the subject’s face. If you cannot avoid this, use a flash. Your best bet is to have your subject face the sun and have them look slightly away from the direction of the sun. This will most likely help with your subject from squinting. Another great trick is to wait for a cloud to move in front of the sun, this usually creates a very bright yet contrasted look
* You could even shoot into the sun and get beautiful effects with “flares”.
* As you see in the photo below I took of my daughter. You just have to adjust yourself where you need to stand to take the shot.)
you will love trying new techniques. I did!!
SUN IS YOUR FRIEND
* Use the sun to your advantage. Although the sun is harsh at times, you can use the sun to get an amazing shot.
* As you see in the photo below, you can use the sun as a light source to bounce off of towards your subject.
* I used my reflector (5-in-1) with the gold side and used the sun to bounce off of my reflector onto my daughter’s face.
* I never used that side of my reflectors but wanted to try and see what effect it gave me
* It gives my subject and extra golden glow – if you like that kinda look
* It’s all about trying different techniques with what you have in your arsenal of equipment
* Have a variety of poses in your shots. You may want to take candid shots. Those are the best kind. Not all shots have to be posed. Your subject does not always have to look directly at the camera. Share a joke. Make them laugh. Don’t always shoot in the same area. Have a different background scene. Along with group shots, shoot some members separately.
So there you have it. Just a few practical tips on how to improve your photography skills when you are shooting outdoors.
It’s all a matter of practice, practice, practice.