Beginner to Photography! Advice?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Boots-, Aug 28, 2010.

  1. Boots- macrumors regular

    Jan 27, 2009
    Hey, I've been taking pictures for about 3 years now, and I feel like I improved greatly. I still don't know all to much about photography, and I'd love to learn and improve! I don't really know what else to say. I will take any advice that you have for a beginner photographer, and any help for someone new to photography.

    Here's what I have accomplished:

    Also I'd like to say that I attempted 365 days on Flickr, so if you come across any of those photos, just ignore them! ahah

    Thanks in advance for any help you have!
  2. bsamcash macrumors regular

    Jul 31, 2008
    Santa Cruz, CA
    1. Remember the rule of thirds.

    2. Bokeh can be a powerful tool.

    3. Zoom with your feet.

    4. Capture the moment, don't stage it.

    5. If it catches your eye, let your camera catch it.

    Keep these in mind whilst you frame and compose and every picture can be a keeper.
  3. arogge macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2002
    What do you feel is lacking in your work? Skill development takes time in practice, not being told what to do. You have to figure out what you want, how you intend to meet that goal, and then go out and do it. You can also try reading books, about art and about techniques, to increase your knowledge of photography. Are you intending to pursue professional jobs? That can drive the direction of your work too.

    I flipped through a few of your images, but had to quit. I don't know what this "Flickr-er" Flickr is doing, but on every image page it starts in with some runaway script that hogs the CPU and hangs my browser. No, Flickr may not use the CPU time that I need for real work.
  4. Salacion macrumors 6502a

    Apr 8, 2010
    Well, it's tough to say when you use a point and shoot. Consider upgrading to an SLR if you're serious with photography.

    The best I can say is this: avoid distractions. Everything has a place in a picture, so make sure not to include elements that distract the viewer's eye.
  5. iPhone1 macrumors 65816


    Apr 2, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    I think your work would skyrocket by just buying a DSLR (any DSLR) and a 50mm f/1.7 lens. Your shots are nice but the shallow depth of field advantage would go a long way. Just remember that shooting wide open does not equal art.
  6. ChristianVirtual macrumors 601


    May 10, 2010
    And when going the DSLR way: don't try to save money on the lens. The lens stay with you while the bodies coming and going. At least that is my experience. Plus the lens brings the light to the sensor. Any cheap solution here can easy ruin a nice picture.
  7. fcortese macrumors demi-god


    Apr 3, 2010
    Big Sky country
    Agree. Don't skimp on buying good glass.
  8. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    #3 is an odd bit of advice, and #5 is just backwards:

    • If you're a photojournalist, then you'll definitely want to avoid "staging a moment", but otherwise, a bit of planning can take a photo the extra mile.

    • Don't "let your camera" do anything for you. You should be the one in charge. Instead: when something catches your eye, figure out how best to package it within the four sides of your photo so that your viewers will 'see' it too.

    This is very good advice. If you don't want it in the picture, it shouldn't be there.

    Boots-, I looked through some of your Flickr photos. It's a really mixed bag, but you're obviously very keen to experiment, and I get the feeling that you have the patience to improve a great deal. There are two things I suggest you start working on: lighting and composition.

    Lighting. Remember that if you're shooting outdoors with available light, the very best times of day are the two 'golden hours', one just after sunrise, and the other just before sunset. That's when the sun is low and its light is passing through more atmosphere, causing the light to be a soft, golden color. This light makes shadows soft and colors more vibrant. Midday light is too harsh and blue; it will wash out colors and cause dark, distracting shadows and extremely bright highlights--a high dynamic range that will produce black and white 'holes' in your photo. The exception is when you have enough cloud cover to diffuse the sun's light (without it being so thick that everything looks dull).

    If you're shooting indoors with lighting that is under your control, the same basic principles apply: avoid harsh shadows and stark highlights. Of course there will always be exceptions; if you want 'monster' lighting for a certain effect, fine, but it's usually not desirable. Also, if you're shooting indoors be aware of mismatched lights that produce odd, uncorrectable color casts.

    Composition. Think of each photo as breaking down into two components: subject and setting. This basic distinction will help photos of every kind, even abstracts. A photo that is all setting and no subject will not hold the eye's interest for long. Conversely, a subject that appears without enough setting or context is likely to seem less interesting than it could otherwise. It's usually best if a photo has a single, strong subject, a place for the eye to 'park' between explorations of the frame. The subject should have enough visual weight in the frame to grab attention, but not so much that it obliterates its setting or context. Avoid having multiple subjects or having elements in the frame that compete with your subject.

    There are times when you'll want to break the 'rules' of composition, but don't do that until you know what the rules are. The "Rule of Thirds" is a very useful guide, so I recommend you read up on it. Learning to make use of leading lines and layers in a photo to establish depth is also invaluable for creating successful compositions.

    Lastly, if you want C&C on specific photos, post them in a thread here so that people don't have to click through to your Flickr page to see them. I recommend you post no more than three at a time so that you'll get very pointed comments about each (instead of vague generalizations about a whole lot of images).

    Hope that helps. :)
  9. Policar macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2004
    It's hard to give feedback on 200 different shots... I don't have time to look through all of them and think critically about what your intention was in each case and works and what doesn't. It would be much easier if you posted fewer examples.

    Anyhow, the above answer is the best. Focus on composition and lighting and figure out what approach you want to take and what your interests are. Having a good eye for composition and light is always important no matter what you end up shooting; other skills are more or less important relative to your gear and subject matter. You can train yourself, read books on art and art history, or study art (painting, movies, photography, etc.) to develop your eye.

    In general, gear isn't that important, although for certain effects it's necessary. If you want to shoot wildlife or sports you need a long lens; if you want to shoot soft focus portraits you need a portrait lens; if you want to shoot landscapes you need a view camera; etc. But for prints at 8''X10'' and under or when posting images online, the difference in image quality between a point and shoot, a high-end dSLR, and an ultra high-end film or medium format digital camera is negligible when shooting in daylight or controlled light. Of course the dSLR has the advantage of being good in low light and allowing for soft focus, the view camera has perspective control, and the point and shoot is easy to bring anywhere--those are the kinds of differences that matter more than a fancy lens versus a less fancy lens. So don't worry about gear until you know specifically why you want something (never because it's the "best;" always because it's the best for what you want to do...). You want to show off your photos, not your camera.

    I'm kind of a beginner, too, but I've talked with enough professionals to at least repeat their advice and occasionally buy expensive used gear from them... Work on lighting and composition above all else, and try a few different styles of photography and see what suits you best. Few people are good at shooting everything, and those who are still focus on what they're best at or most interested in.

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