3 tips for beginners.
So you have made the plunge! You went out and bought your first DSLR! Now you're ready to capture those precious moments of your kids, friends and family. Should be easy right? I mean really, you just have to press a button. Right? Well, unfortunately, that couldn't be further from the truth. Sure your camera has an auto mode, but that is only gonna get you so far. You have to get out of AUTO mode, now! Like, right now. Seriously. Your camera's ability to produce sharp beautiful images depends on the person carrying it, YOU. Go to google and type in Exposure Triangle. It is imperative that you learn this if you want to grow as a photographer. Shutter speeds, f-stops and iso, these 3 things together determine whether or not your image will be blurry, grainy or just down right bad. It may take awhile to understand, but believe me, it is detrimental to your growth as a photographer. Make it a point to know your camera like the back of your hand. Once you do this, you will never turn that dial to auto again.
Most cameras come with your standard kit lens's, usually something like an 18-55. These lens's are great and it is more than possible to get fantastic images with them. DO NOT I repeat DO NOT go and start purchasing new lens/equipment before mastering the exposure triangle. You are going to get the same results from a $2,000 lens that your are getting from your 18-55, if you do not know your exposure triangle. So with that being said, you mastered your f-stop, iso and shutter speed and its time for an upgrade. The best bang for your buck is the nifty fifty! You can purchase the 50mm 1.8 brand new for about $200 bucks. Possibly even cheaper on amazon. Shooting at an f-stop of 1.8 will allow you to achieve that creamy bokeh we all strive for. "But Eric, I can't zoom?" Prime lens's are one focal length, there is no zooming in or out, however, there is nothing stopping you from taking a few steps back or forward! There is also the 35mm 1.8 that you can usually pick up for $200 or under. Once you attach one of these lens's to your camera body, you won't want to take it off. When you're starting out, there is no reason for you to go out and drop $1000 on a new lens. Unless you have a plethora of money, and in that case, buy me one of those lens's too.
You mastered the exposure triangle. You went out and purchased a brand new 50mm lens. Your work is getting noticeably better! Awesome good for you! You are well on your way to reaching another level of photography! Now it's time to talk about composition. Composition is a key ingredient to every image. It can make or break an image regardless of sharpness or how cute your subject is. Be aware of backgrounds! Horizon lines, trees, houses and power lines are just a few things to watch out for. Look for a consistent background. Whether it is the blue sky, brush or bushes, the less distracting the better. Look for leading lines in your frame. These can come from the sidewalks, streets or brick walls. Try to find ways to lead these lines to your subject. This takes time and tons of practice but is well worth the reward. Don't worry, it will come easier with time. Frame your subjects. Look for the gifts that your natural environment has given you. Use doorways, branches, and even holes to shoot through. Study your location. Last but not least the Rule of Thirds! You do not always have to place your subject in the middle. Actually placing your subject to the left or right side of the frame can make it much more interesting. This is not a rule that must be used indefinitely, but something for you to experiment with. There are plenty of youtube tutorials that can explain the rule of thirds in detail. While your at it, google the Golden Ratio. This is also a great composisition techqnique.
In the end, the most important factor in your growth is to just shoot, shoot and shoot. This is the only sure way to get better. You must put the hours in watching youtube tutorials. Go out and make your kids, wife or husband model for you. Heck, use your cat or dog if you need to! Put what you learn into action!