Actually, I wouldn’t consider this a tip list, but more of a general look at how I taught myself the ins and outs of taking a good picture. One thing to keep in mind, is that I don’t stick to one sort of style, or focus . . . I love all types of photography. Fashion being my first love, then travel and now more lifestyle, as well. I like to challenge myself, and by jumping between these different focuses, I am always met with a challenge. And I am always down to have a new reason to experiment. That’s what makes things exciting.
I never took a single photography class. Everything I learned about photography was simply by experimentation, and of course the good old Internet. My very first camera, an old Canon 10D that my dad found at a yard sale. And a zoom lens to go along with it. That’s when the blog finally said goodbye to the cheap point and shoot camera and hello to its first upgrade. Although, now looking back, it’s quite funny to think we shot a bunch of our outfits with a big old zoom lens. But that’s how I first learned about depth of field, and I just kept learning more and more from that moment on. Some basic online guidelines on shooting in manual mode really helped me out. The first things I had to wrap my brain around was understanding what ISO, shutter speed and f-stop were, and how they all affected one another. Once I figured out how they work together, I experimented with different combinations of them to see what I sort of image I would get.
ISO – number that reflects the camera’s sensitivity to light. The lower the number, the less sensitive it is to the light, while a higher ISO number increases the sensitivity of your camera.
Shutter speed – the time for which the lens’ shutter is open at a given setting. The smaller the shutter speed, a lower amount of light is let into the lens. A larger shutter speed allows more light to come in.
F-stop (f/number) – this is an indicator of the size of the diaphragm opening, or aperture, in a camera. Aperture either adds a dimension to a photograph by making the background behind your main subject blurry (high depth of field), or it brings everything in the frame totally in focus (low depth of field). You can control this. The lower the f-stop number, the higher the depth of field, and the higher the f-stop number, the lower the depth of field. Of course, the exact amount of depth of field you will get depends on ISO and shutter speed.
It took a lot of practice for my brain and eye to recognize what was the best combination for certain types of shooting situations (morning light, evening light, indoors, etc). It can never be perfect but it can be close to perfect, and you know what . . . sometimes it shouldn’t be perfect at all. It’s more about the mood and vibe, as opposed to the technicality. But once you get both down pat, you are on the right path.
Pick up a camera that has both an automatic and manual shooting settings, that way you can experiment with both. Beginners usually shoot automatic, but make sure to pay attention to what the camera automatically sets itself to for ISO, f-stop and shutter speed. Check the camera manual to see where you can see these numbers on the camera. This will help you went you begin to play around with shooting manually because you will take all of these factors into account. You control the setting completely this way! After the Canon 10D, my sister and I shared a Canon 6D, and now I have my wonderful Canon 5D that has been treating me well ever since I got it.
Editing is still something I’m always learning new things about. Because the turnaround for most of my projects and postings are quite quick, I am always looking for an efficient way to edit that still gives high quality results. Sometimes I like to use shortcuts, and I am a huge fan of preset filters that I can do little tweaks to to get my image looking exactly how I imaged it to be as soon as I look through the lens. But I always make sure to try to capture my images in a way that don’t need heavy editing, maybe just a little extra boost of something to make the colors more vivid or more moody, depending on the vibe I’m going for. In the same way that I learned how to use my camera, I learned how to use the editing software Lightroom by trial and error, over and over again. And I’m a huge fan of the filters created by VSCO that can be purchased from their site. They have tons of amazing ones, you just need to find the right package of them that suits your style the most. There’s a free starter pack you can try to experiment with and get a feel of the program. It really is super simple. And I just google anything I need help with.
Play around with different lenses to get a feel for one you really like to shoot with, and feel comfortable shooting with. I really love the 50mm fixed lens. It’s super versatile, light and gives a really great depth of field. I use this lens for most of my fashion shoots and pictures for the blog. It’s also great for environment shots when I’m traveling. I think I’m ready to experiment with a new lens, as well, so I will take any recommendations!
One thing to always remember, is that the main goal shouldn’t always be to take a perfect picture. Think more about the mood, a vibe, the environment, the colors, and how all these things can come together in the picture. Maybe the focus didn’t come out perfect, maybe your subject moved and was a little blurry, maybe the exposure was too low . . . there are so many little things that can keep a picture from being perfect. But you know what? That is the beauty of it all. This is a main reason why I’ve really been enjoying playing around with different kinds of cameras that sometimes may never give me the desired result, but will always ensure something cool that is more a reflection of the moment. Lomography cameras, Instax cameras, and disposable cameras always come with me during my travels. You never know what you might capture with these . . . you just have to shoot and see what happens! It most likely will be unexpected, but you might really like what you create in the end.
I think next, I’ll do a little tutorial on how I edit my pictures in Lightroom, since I’ve been getting a few emails about that. What do you guys think?