It’s very frustrating to use the time, effort and energy to work towards special memories in pictures, and lose it to out of focus, the light is wrong, or some other error, but it’s not really impossible. You do have to have a little extra skill over the average person, but not as much as you might think. You certainly don’t need the knowledge with today’s newer cameras but there are things to be aware of and what to do or not to do.
Some of those things that frustrate could be – out of focus, or too close, maybe cutting off the heads or feet, what about the lighting, even unwanted movement or subjects. Pictures can never be replaced, even an hour later, they just aren’t the same. Know what to do and how to do it so that you get it right the first time – that’s the challenge.
It’s almost impossible to get this picture out of season, or while you were on vacation and now back home. Agreed? This picture could have a very special meaning for you, but only if you were fortunate to get it the first time.
1. Is your camera set on auto-focus, or manual?
Know your camera well enough to ensure that all settings or switches and dials are set for what you’re shooting. If something is wrong, the entire set of pictures can be destroyed unless you’re very lucky. Just read up on and know your equipment.
2. Is the light right? Do you need a flash?
There is nothing worse than the loss of a “once-in-a-lifetime” memory that was destroyed by improper lighting. No matter what the reason, the exact time will never be repeated. Think of this – you are getting ready to head back home after a visiting vacation, and want to get some “last minute” pictures. My wife and I had one of those small flat cameras on one such trip, and almost every picture we took; we had a thumb or finger in the edge of the picture. Not the fault of the camera, we just weren’t watching what we were doing. Make sure you have the positions and settings you need.
3. What about the background – are you shooting into a window with sun coming in?
I can’t think of anything more frustrating than a treasured picture ruined by lighting – either too much or too little. Make absolutely sure you never shoot your subject with a window behind them. Two things can happen, either excessive light from the outside, or you will get a “flash-back” from the mirror image from the window. Think about what you’re doing.
4. What about that 2 stage shutter release – did you follow the directions, or move too soon?
Almost every time I do a blog about pictures, I point out that the later cameras all have a two-stage shutter release. One lady told me that she had to wait for about 2 seconds for the camera to take the picture after she pushed the release. She was very unhappy with the camera until I explained the reason for the delay. She now knows why and takes her “action” pictures accordingly – in fact, she takes all of her pictures with confidence now 5. that she understands.
5. Is your subject moving? Did you remember the shutter release and go half way down, then track to moving target to capture it at the right time?
When taking action or movement shots, press the shutter release to the first position (about half way down, you did practice this, didn’t you?) and follow the moving target, ignoring the background. This picture would have been impossible to take any other way.
6. What about the point of focus? Did you remember the “thirds” rule?
Look at the above picture. This is a classic example of the “thirds” rule in that the snowboarder is in one third, the center shows action (snow) and the last third is the ending of the story. By the way, this picture can be sold, because the person cannot be readily identified. If you intend to profit from your pictures, make very sure you know and follow the laws, all of them. Selling or even displaying a picture in your business means “commercial” and without the releases, you can be sued.
Note: Never edit your pictures in the camera. Keep all of them and transfer them to the computer to work with. You just might miss something the camera caught, such as a bug in the flower, or other small item that just might make the shot even more interesting.