1. Lighting a scene
This is not something we normally think about when taking pictures, but is extremely important. Even if you have a great lens, light is still important. When you have a bright sun in your photo, even with a wide-angle lens, your depth of field will be quite shallow and the image will be very blurry. To get sharp photos in bright sunlight, you must use fill flash, and do it carefully, so that it doesn’t blow out your highlights. Here are some guidelines on using fill flash:
a. Make sure you can see the reflection of the subject on the wall. This is your ‘rule of thirds’. When you point your flash in this direction, you’ll have a natural fill light, and your background will be nicely lit.
b. Position the flash directly on your subject’s face. Do not use a bounce surface. The bounce will make the flash look huge and will blow out the shadows. Try placing your flash on a table or on the wall.
c. Hold the flash slightly above the subject. Point the flash at a 45 degree angle and aim at your subject’s eyes.
d. Hold the flash in the hand closest to your camera, about 10 cm from the flash.
e. Do not point your flash directly at your subject’s eyes. Instead, point it 15 to 20 degrees away.
f. Do not move your subject’s head to make him/her face the light.
g. If possible, use a diffuser to soften the light. A small piece of card with a hole cut in it will work well.
h. Be patient. The subject has to adjust his/her eyes to your new light and will usually squint in the process. You might need to use a low shutter speed, and wait for the right moment to capture the shot.
i. If you are photographing a group of people, you should use fill flash. In this case, make sure the flash is directed at your subject’s eyes, but not directly at them. A diffuser can also help soften the light, and you’ll have to move your subject away from the light source.
2. Correcting the color of skin
There are lots of methods to correct skin tones. One is to apply a white balance card to your camera’s sensor, and select a card that has a color temperature similar to the ambient light. Then, shoot the picture. Another option is to use a gel filter. You might find these filters at your local drugstore. They are usually used to darken red tones, but you can use them to lighten the skin colors. Also, you can use the Color Efex Pro app on your iPhone or iPad to create more dramatic images.
3. Improve your close-up shots
It’s easier to get great close-ups when your subject isn’t too far away. Use a wide-angle lens and a strong light source. Take advantage of reflections and the shape of your subject to get more interesting shots. Here are some tips on how to do it:
a. Bring your subject closer to the front of the lens.
b. Have your subject face the light, so you can capture the reflection of the subject’s face.
c. Turn your subject’s face away from the light, so the reflection won’t be visible.
d. Use a wide-angle lens. A telephoto lens will produce a wider background, making your subject appear smaller than they really are.
4. Add a touch of mystery
Lighting a scene can be tricky, but when it comes to portraits, there are many ways to add a little bit of mystery to the photograph. Here are some ideas:
a. Create a sense of mystery by lighting the subject’s face with a single light. This will give the subject a mysterious, soft look.
b. Keep the light off your subject’s face, and use only a single light to illuminate the background. This will give a more dramatic look.
c. Shoot the portrait with the sun in the background.
5. Improve your night photography
Night photography is often a challenge. Your camera might be able to capture a beautiful shot of a moonlit sky, but your subject will be a silhouette. To improve your results, you might want to use flash, and point the flash directly at your subject’s eyes, like we talked about earlier. You can also use a diffuser to soften the light.
6. Improve your nighttime landscape shots
Shooting landscapes at night can be a challenge. When the moon is bright, your subject will appear too bright in the image. You can solve this problem by using a neutral density filter. This will reduce the amount of light reaching the sensor, making the subject appear more natural. Try using a 50 mm lens. This will create a longer depth of field, which will make the subject stand out. Remember, the longer the lens, the more the subject will appear to be a silhouette. You might want to turn off the flash and place it a little to the side of your subject, just behind the subject’s body.
7. Improve your cityscapes
Cityscapes can be challenging because of the amount of light and the shape of buildings. This is why it’s a good idea to use a tripod and set your shutter speed to a slow value. It’s hard to make a moving object stay still in a photo, and the slower the shutter speed, the less likely it is to blur. Another trick is to use a polarizer. This will help control the reflection of the sky, and will give a more dramatic look to the image.
8. Add drama to your wedding photos
Adding drama to your wedding photos can be as simple as shooting a wedding with the sun in the sky. This will create a lot of contrast and your subjects will be in silhouette.