Our friends at Canon South Africa have given us the pocket-friendly Canon PowerShot SX600 HS to use over the next three months to explore the things we do, the things we see, and the things we create through photography.
I’ve always enjoyed replaying beautiful moments in my head. Moments of friends, family and events; yet for the longest time, I would forget some of the details of those moments and memories. So naturally I gravitated towards photography as a profession, with a strong inclination toward how to capture moments that would evoke a sense of good nostalgia. I also wanted to learn how to create images that will live beyond my years and be referenced by future generations.
Today, as a professional photographer, I know that to get to that point – evoking nostalgia and all – you have to have a good handle on the basics of photography, the fundamentals from which you can start to create images. I’ve listed my top five tips for beginners to help you on your way toward capturing those perfect memories.
Learn the camera modes
- Manual – you can specify and control all the setting manually (advisable to use this mode once you have an understanding of all the cameras settings).
- Automatic – the camera will decide the camera settings for you based on the scenario you’re in (I would advise not to get used to using this mode, it limits your creativity).
- Programmed – certain characteristics are pre-determined (like being on auto with a little bit of control).
Generally speaking, I would advise beginners to avoid shooting on any programmed modes, these are very limiting and sometimes don’t read varying situations very well. Nothing beats your senses, seeing the the scene and deciding how YOU want the images to turn out.
Learn the rule of thirds
Photos would look so much better if your subject wasn’t centered all the time. What the rule of thirds teaches you is, compose your shot in such a way that you place your subject/s is in areas of visual interest.
Every digital camera – including the Canon SX600 HS – comes with a grid option which overlays vertical and horizontal lines on the image dividing or splitting the image into nine sections. The areas of visual interest are the where the lines intersect, that will create a interesting and dynamic image.
Change your viewpoint
Often we take photos standing upright with a very straight and uninteresting angle. If you want interesting images that tell a visual story, you need to get down and dirty! As one of my photography trainers used to say to me “you need to do the photographic dance and move around.” So dance.
This is one of the most important things that people don’t take note of. Simply put, it’s useless having captured this amazing moment or event but not being able to reproduce it in any format because the image is of poor quality and size. Also keep in mind that post production tools like Photoshop are destructive to image pixels, so editing a poor quality image does not help preserve memories. If at all possible always shoot RAW or shoot on the highest image quality possible – all these can be set up on your camera menu.
Remember “The Trifecta” – Exposure (ISO), Aperture and Shutter Speed
This is actually the most important of all the five points.These first and foremost are what make or break a good photo! Let me explain…
- ISO/Exposure – is how sensitive the camera chip is to light, using a high ISO will allow you to capture images in low light situations but high ISO also produces “grain”, like you would get when you shoot on old school film. This is not always good grain, plus, it lowers the image quality. What you want to do is shoot on a lower ISO for sharp crisp images.
- Aperture – this determines the physical opening of the lens as well as the focal length. A high aperture means a small lens opening – letting in small amounts of light, this will result in more of the background being sharp and in focus. A small aperture means a large lens opening, that is, the lens will let in a lot of light and this will result in background objects being flushed and out of focus.
- Shutter Speed – this controls the amount of time the shutter will let light in the lens. Leaving the shutter open for a longer time will show motion or blur in a photo, while a short shutter time will freeze action/motion.
These three specific features, used in combinations, will produce amazing images with different effects that will enable you to tell your story more effectively.
Now of course these tips are only some of the many tips and techniques that go into becoming an amazing photographer, but these fundamentals will definitely go a long way or will at least allow you to start capturing those great moments in the greatest light.
All original photos shot with the Canon SX 600 HS