Ok, so I went to the zoo on New Years Eve and there were TONS of people walking around with a DSLR camera. Now picture this: it’s noon, full sunlight, and people are taking pictures with their new DSLR that they probably got for Christmas and their flash is going off. Why?
Let me give you another scenario: You are at a Saints game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and up in the nose bleed seats. The person next to you takes out there new Nikon D90 or Canon Rebel with their kit lens and decides to take a picture of the field below. They hold up their camera looking at the screen on the back and take a picture and the flash goes off (do you really think that itty bitty flash is going to light up the ENTIRE SUPERDOME). Why?
If you suffer from this I’m going to give you a few tips to help.
- Read your manual – I know, I know, it’s boring and you would rather be out taking pictures. Trust me a few hours spent reading your manual will lead to better pictures down the road.
- Learn about aperture, shutter speed, and ISO – these 3 things are the foundation of photography. You MUST understand them if you want to take better images.
- Turn off your flash – Trust me on this one. The minute you learn how to take pictures without your flash you will see an improvement in your images but you also need to use this tip in conjunction with the next one
- Look for the light – Photography isn’t all that complicated, all we are doing is using a box to capture light. Once you understand that then it makes sense that the quality of that light is paramount.
I’m going to talk about number 4 a little bit more. If you are outside in a busy downtown area at say 2pm in the afternoon and you were going to take a few pictures of your friends there will be a vast difference in how you go about this once you understand light.
Until now you would probably just say “stand together and look over here at me and I’ll take your picture”. After you take the picture you end up with one of two scenarios: your flash goes off and everyone looks flat, the image loses texture, and the colors are washed out or the flash doesn’t go off and everyone in the image has dark shadows on their faces under their eyes and nose. Once you understand light everything changes.
You first would look for somewhere out of direct sunlight, maybe in a side alley with some shade. Then you are going to look for a natural reflector to add some fill light. Then you position your friends in the shade with the reflector either in front of them or ideally off to one side. If the background is an issue, and you understand aperture, you might be able to blur it out with some beautiful bokeh, provided your lens has a shallow enough depth of field.
Now if you read that last paragraph and didn’t understand some of what I said then it’s time to learn the basics. Spend a few bucks and buy a book like Canon 7D: From Snapshots to Great Shots to get a basic understanding aperture, shutter, speed, and ISO.
To get you started here is a very quick video from International destination wedding photographer, Jasmine Star on using natural reflectors.