Hello, and welcome to my new series: Basic Photography for Beginners! In this series I will start at the beginning and explain basic photography. This course can be helpful to you if you have a dSLR, a point and shoot, or even just a phone. You also don’t even need to be interested in photography as a hobby or job – good photography skills are important for everyone, especially since many people now have a camera accessible to them on their phone. Today I’ll start with two major elements: composition and light.
Look at these pictures below. (more of them here)
Notice how the subject is one side of the picture and there is ample space next to it?
See, the lines on the pictures section them into thirds. It’s best to put your subject – be it a person, place, or thing (animal, vegetable, mineral – you choose) to the side, not in the middle.
(and these lines here are found when you crop your image on whatever photo editor you use.)
But how do I know what side to put my subject on?
This depends on the direction your subject is facing.
This is really not the best photo for several reasons, but look at where the subject is facing. She’s facing (or rather, her body is facing) towards the left side of the screen. To frame it this way does not look as good as framing it…
Now as far as putting your subject in the middle, there are a few exceptions, like when putting it to the side just looks unproportioned and awkward and if you want a dramatic effect.
This is when you decide for yourself.
When I choose a location for photoshoots, the very first thing I look for is lighting. The background can be a dumpster if the lighting is right.
Okay, that might have been a bit over the top, but what I’m trying to say is that lighting is incredibly important. There are a couple examples of bad lighting below.
The first is splotchy light. The picture below is a really good example of splotchy lighting. You can easily see where the sun is coming through the trees. This creates an uneven picture and just does not look good. Christian (the one wearing a tie) is in the shade, Courage (the baby) is in full sun, and the rest of them are all uneven. To get a really good photo you need even light.
Even if you have a single subject who is in complete shade but there is splotchy lighting around her, it still doesn’t look that great.
But the problem is, what if your light is even but in full sun?
Full sun creates harsh shadows and is very hard to expose for correctly, even on a professional-grade camera. Guaranteed, it’s really not the worst picture ever, but it could be a lot better if it wasn’t in full sun.
What you need is full shade or a soft cloud cover like this.
It wasn’t a completely gray day – and in fact, the sun was out most of the time (and it was bright enough that you can see shadow from the hat on Freedom’s face), but there were a few clouds, and some wind moving them, so we positioned everybody and waited for the sun to go under a cloud. I actually took a few pictures when they were in full sun, and the result was horrendous – I promptly deleted them, which I wish I hadn’t so I could show you the difference!
So how do I get full shade or diffused light?
Unfortunately, I can’t give you a poem you can recite every time you need perfect light. You can do a few things, however, to get better light.
- Schedule your shoot for early morning (like 9:00). The sun is still low in the sky around 9:00 which gives you light from the side, not above. It’s when Junior and I got these pictures last year.
- Schedule your shoot for golden hour (an hour before the sun sets). At this time, also, the sun is low, and what’s more, it gives a golden tinge to your photos. (More from this shoot here.)
- If you’re shooting one person, try creating shade by holding a lighting reflector above them. You will have splotchy or split lighting behind them, but it may be your only option. (more of this shoot here)
- Last but not least, be creative! If there is shade, use it, no matter how small the amount is.
And that wraps up my first photography tips post! I hope y’all found it helpful and enjoyed
what are some of your best photography tips? do you hate full sun?