Introduction: Doing What You Have to for Amazing Shots

Picture of Doing What You Have to for Amazing Shots

I am by far no professional photographer, but I do what I must to get some amazing shots. In this instructable, I'll share with you my tips and secrets on how to get fantastic pictures of plants, animals, scenery, people, and many other things.

Every picture in this instructable has been painstakingly photographed by me; these are all of my original creation.

Now read on to find out what I do to get amazing shots!

Remember, these were all taken by me, so if you see them in someone else's instructable who is not me, please don't hesitate to let me know.

UPDATE: I have added two pictures to the front page. My family and I were visiting at the hospital and I went up to the top of the parking garage to take some pictures. I made my sister lay down on the ground by the light coming from one of the EXIT doors and took these photos. They make great desktop backgrounds. Hope you like!

Please VOTE for this instructable if you enjoyed it!

Step 1: My Camera, and How to Choose Your Own.

Picture of My Camera, and How to Choose Your Own.

The camera I use to take all of my fantastic shots is a Kodak Z712 IS. It is a wonderfully fantastic digital camera, with 12 times optical zoom, and a digital zoom feature that you can turn off. It takes super clear pictures, has great settings for a variety of things, and I just love the thing to death. Right now I have a 2G memory card in it, so I can get approximately 1600 pictures without downloading anything. On a good set of lithium batteries, I can get about 500-550 pictures. It only set us back about 200 bucks, but that price is nothing compared to the quality of this camera.

Choosing your own Camera

When choosing a camera for yourself, look at how much you have to spend on a camera, what kind of pictures you will generally be taking, what kind of camera you want to go with (film or digital), and how often you plan on taking pictures. All of these things can help you when choosing a new camera. Shop around and find the best bang for your buck, and don't be to quick to buy the first thing you see.

The picture below is not mine, it has been borrowed from a Kodak sponsored web site.

Step 2: Photographing a Pet.

Picture of Photographing a Pet.

Taking quality pictures of your pet(s) may not sound hard, but sometimes, they don't always like to stop and pose.

I love taking pictures of my cat Oliver, but sometimes he's not in the photogenic kinda mood. I follow him back and forth around the house waiting for him to find a place to lay or sleep, and that's when the magic happens.

Let your pet do what they want to: While they are sleeping, eating, wondering around, or just staring at a bug on the wall, use these opportunities to take your pictures. Wait for them to settle down to get your good pictures, or all you'll have are photos of them walking away from you with their tail in the lens.

I generally wait for Oliver to sit still, fall asleep, or find him in a lazy mood when I take my pictures. And if your camera has a high speed setting, you can snap pictures of your pet in action: Jumping, running, flying, or swimming.

If you do take pictures of your pet in action, see if your camera has a high speed setting. It may be for sports or the likes, but using this will keep the images from blurring.

Remember, some of the best photos are of spur of the moment things. Whether it be someone doing a random action that portrays their everyday life, or just your cat scratching himself; It can all be beautiful art.

Step 3: Photographing Scenery and Nature.

Picture of Photographing Scenery and Nature.

Mother nature provides us with some pretty amazing things sometimes. Most of the things available in nature make fantastic photos or art. When photographing scenery, I keep my camera on the setting labeled with the mountain (Far-off/scenery). For pictures of close ups of flowers or plants, I use the setting labeled with the flower (Macro/close-up).

Architecture also makes great photos. I enjoy going to downtown New Orleans and taking pictures of all the great buildings and features around our great city. Even disgusting streets can make great photos.

Rule of thumb: Just because you're using macro, that doesn't mean that you can zoom in all the way and the stick the lens in the flower expecting it to come out great. The farther you zoom in, the farther you must be from your subject. This rule semi applies to photos of scenery. Don't zoom in on one tree and expect the rest to be perfect, find the balance in between them.

Below are some pictures of downtown New Orleans and plants around my house.

Step 4: Wild Animals.

Picture of Wild Animals.

I love getting pictures of the animals and critters that visit my backyard. But it's not always easy to get near them without them noticing. So here's my secret to you on great wildlife pictures.

Grab yourself a lawn chair, some bird feed, and your camera. Sit in your yard a little ways away from where the animals show up at. Throw the bird feed or bread crumbs out into the yard, and wait for the animals to come back (assuming that they where there before you walked through the yard).

When they return, stay in your chair, and snap photos of the many critters that may visit you!

Below are pictures of my squirrel visitors, some cardinals, and some doves and pigeons. A couple of them where taken on a levee, where the birds where looking for junk on the ground.

All of the pictures of the two cardinals and the dove were taken through a double pained window (that hadn't been clean in a while), so you can see how well the Kodak z712 works under certain conditions.

Step 5: Spur of the Moment Photography.

Picture of Spur of the Moment Photography.

I can't stand the site of photos of people posing with their fake smiles and stupid poses. I prefer pictures that are spur of the moment and unexpected. To me, these spur of the moment pictures provide the best story of what was happening when the picture was taken.

I'm in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), and I get a lot of opportunities to take pictures of people practicing and fighting using medieval combat styles. For these pictures, I use the sports setting, because the weapons are moving so fast that the normal settings would blur them across the screen. I get my camera and casually waltz around whoever may be fighting, and take some amazing photos of great action shots.

Great spur of the moment photos are ones that are unexpected. It could be of someone smiling, but not in a fake smiling way. It could be of an event that happened unexpectedly, and you had your camera at the ready. It could be of people doing what they do best, while you snap their picture. Every picture that you can take without someone stopping to pose will most likely be a good one.

If you are ever taking pictures of an event that may cause you harm, like standing near two gentlemen who are fully armed and armored swinging sticks at each other, be aware of your surroundings and be cautious while taking your pictures.

Below are a few pictures of some gentlemen I saw in the middle of some pick-up fights after the fort battle at Gulf Wars 17.

Step 6: Final Word.

Picture of Final Word.

Great photo taking doesn't just come from the camera, it also comes from the photographer. Find a niche that works for you and stick to it. If you're good at taking pictures of non moving things, go find some photogenic flowers. If you're better at action scenes and moving subjects, go find a couple of history buffs while they're swinging sticks at each other.

Just find what you're best at and follow it up.

Remember, these were all taken by me, so if you see them in someone else's instructable who is not me, please don't hesitate to let me know.

Thanks for reading!

Please vote if you enjoyed my instructable!


Bidul (author)2011-02-07

For better looking wildlife pics :
- Always make sure the eyes aren't out of focus. Best way is to focus on at least one eye
- Always keep some "air" in front of subject. If animal (or person) is "looking to the left", have the eyes on the right side of the frame.
- Mind the rule of thirds

Bidul (author)2011-02-07

This set of photos would look better with a shallow depth of field.
Try maximum aperture and focal length

Soodime (author)2010-01-17

kitty looks a bit, "excited." ;)

ultracanery (author)2009-09-19

These are really good photos. have so considered a camera with slr? it seriously improve your amazing shots by a ton. you seem serious enough to have one.

bowmaster (author)2009-04-13

Bye Oliver!!! I'm going to join the SCA too.

littlemelancholy (author)2009-03-20

Vivat Trimaris!

lobo_pal (author)2009-02-19


wenpherd (author)2009-01-01

i give your picturs 5 stars

Wafflicious (author)2008-12-04

your cat is super kitty. he can fly!!!! also, my dog is named oliver too but we call him olly. but he cant fly yet he does run into trees!

Heyentah (author)2008-10-17

You have a lot of really nice shots.

Heyentah (author)2008-10-17

I believe more important than the gadgets and features is a good lens. Look for Leica or Carl Zeiss and you'll get GREAT photos!

evanwehrer (author)2008-09-15

I live in New Orleans!

kllrwolf (author)2008-04-03

The pictures are amazing. You have a vote from me. You have a lot more patients than me to be able to capture a lot of those shots.

shooby (author)kllrwolf2008-09-04

patience. Doctors have patients ( 1 patient, 2 patients), photographers have patience.

Pompom (author)2008-07-23

I love these squirrel and bird photos! :-D

Pompom (author)2008-07-23

I want a cat just so I can take lolcat photos like this.

Bisquick the ninja (author)2008-07-02

You can nev3r get a pic of a ninja unless they let you! Or their not a real ninja!

Ambition (author)2008-04-05

Great pictures of New Orleans. Nice Flowers.

Austringer (author)2008-04-03

Hey, I can see my tent from here!

Gunk on Floor (author)Austringer2008-04-03

Lol, where you there?

Austringer (author)Gunk on Floor2008-04-03

Yep. Been going for years now. In the third picture on Step 5 - the tent with the blue design painted on the peak is a guy from my group and mine is right behind him.

Gunk on Floor (author)Austringer2008-04-03

Well, that was my first Gulf Wars and I loved it. I only wish I could have been longer than a weekend, but state testing got in the way.

Mr Mild Mannered (author)2008-04-03

Glad to hear of another SCA eneactor. Alos, great instructable

Spl1nt3rC3ll (author)2008-04-03

Great instructable!
Mind if I share some photos? I've got some better ones, but these are already in my Library.

Remember, some of the best photos are of spur of the moment things. Whether it be someone doing a random action that portrays their everyday life, or just your cat scratching himself; It can all be beautiful art.

The first close up of my dog is just after she caught a snowflake in her mouth.

Yesterday there were two deer in the woods in my front yard. It was raining and I didn't want to ruin the camera. :(

Those are some great pictures! I love the one of mazee jumping for the snowflake. : )

Thanks! I forgot to say that your pictures are awesome, and I voted for your Instructable. That grey dog is my cousin's BTW.

That first picture is the view from my backyard.

ve2vfd (author)2008-04-02

Those are some nice pictures, but in the case of the knights battling, you may want to open up your apperture (lower number f-stop for the non photo crowd) a bit more so as to have a nicer bokeh (blurry background). A blurry background really makes your subject matter stand out, specially in nice pictures like yours where there are people or other distracting things in the background. Just a little constructive critique :)

gmoon (author)ve2vfd2008-04-03

Also known as a shallow depth-of-field....

Gunk on Floor (author)ve2vfd2008-04-02

Thanks for that info. I don't really know many camera terms or anything like that, I just mess with the thing until I can figure out what buttons to press to get good pictures. I just checked my camera, and in the mode that I was using for the Knight shots (Sports mode), I am unable to change the aperture from there. I know how to change the aperture on the camera, but I'm not sure if it carries on to other settings, seeing as aperture is a setting in itself. I actually took the "Knight shots" right after I left a youth tourney, so I wasn't really messing with the settings to much, I just wanted to get some photos of these guys. All-in-all, thanks for the feedback and info. I'll mess with my camera a bit more.

crestind (author)2008-04-02

Nice Instructable! And those are some great shots! Do you have a DeviantArt by any chance?

Gunk on Floor (author)crestind2008-04-02

I don't, but I just checked it out and I think I'll sign up for it. When I do, I'll send you my user name if you want to check out more of my photos. Thanks!

LinuxH4x0r (author)Gunk on Floor2008-04-02

Can I get it too? I'd love to see your work. Great job!

Sergeant Crayon (author)2008-04-02

You should definitely think about taking a photography course when you're older. Some of these shots are downright amazing. Some of my personal favorites are the fig tree, cathedral (I think it's a cathedral, excuse me if I'm wrong.) and some of the squirrel shots are just plain great. May I suggest Emily Carr Institute?

It's a cathedral, thanks for the great feedback! I think I'm gonna look into some careers that incorporate photography. It just seems like one of those things that I really enjoy. Thanks!

randofo (author)2008-04-02

If you don't want people to republish your photos on other sites, you should take a closer look at the license you have assigned to this Instructable.

Gunk on Floor (author)randofo2008-04-02

I mean it more or less for other instructablers on this site. I've already had an incident where someone took almost all of my photos and put them into their own instructable on the same topic. I really don't mind if they circulate the internet, I just don't want them to show up in other peoples instructables. I'll reword it.

randofo (author)Gunk on Floor2008-04-02

If people are infringing upon your license you should first inform them on the steps they should take to correct the matter. If they don't fix it, you should report it to us in the Bugs section and we'll review the matter.

Gunk on Floor (author)randofo2008-04-02

Thank you, but the instructable in question was removed successfully by Eric, after I let him and Fungus Amungus know of the problem. I also let the offender know what they had done. He hadn't just taken my photos might I add, he also copied everything word for word, and even added that I was his friend. I never even met the guy. Thanks though for the information.

About This Instructable




Bio: I enjoy visiting the dump to look at, and take, all the free stuff people throw away. It's a lot of fun. I like ... More »
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