Photography Tips and Techniques

Introduction: Photography Tips and Techniques

This Instructable is a series of tips and basic photography techniques for automatic and manual mode, which will result in great pictures that you can show off to your friends and family!

Following these techniques will allow any person to take professional pictures such as the one below! All you need to do is understand the many features of cameras, as well as decide certain placement for your subject. Putting all of these things together can greatly improve your photography skills.

Step 1: Rule of Thirds

This is a basic photography technique called Rule-Of-Thirds. This is simply dividing your image canvas into thirds, both vertically and horizontally. The main purpose for Rule-Of-Thirds, is to place the subject at the intersection of the horizontal and vertical lines.

Over 200 years ago, professional photographers, and even painters, figured out that your eyes don't focus on the middle of a photo. They actually tend to gravitate towards the areas marked below.

Try taking some simple pictures in which you position your subject in these special areas of the image canvas. When following the Rule-Of-Thirds, your image becomes much more attractive and eye-catching.

However, there are certain instances when placing a subject directly in the middle may be more effective. The difference between using the Rule-Of-Thirds and just placing the subject anywhere, depends on the photographer and how he/she wishes to have their photograph.

Experiment with the same subject, except different postions on the image canvas. Different subject positions can change the way a photograph looks more than you may think.

Step 2: Taking Pictures

If when you take pictures and they often turn out blurry here are some tips.

When taking a picture try to take a deep breath and hold it as the picture is taken. If you breathe while the picture is being taken, it will cause your shoulders and arms to move, thus moving the camera aswell.

Another tip is to use your elbows. If the picture you are taking is at waist height try kneeling down and resting your elbow on your knee.

One of the best tips is to use a tripod on all pictures possible. You will especially want a tripod when taking slow shutter pictures, which I will explain later.

Step 3: Adjusting the Aperture

The next technique is part of the camera's manual mode. The aperture is a small circular opening inside the lens that controls the amount of light that reaches the camera's sensors. You can adjust the size of the aperture, in order to let more light in to your photo.

Making the aperture larger, will create a brighter image. Making the aperture smaller, will create a darker image. Aperture size works in synergy with both shutter speed and ISO speed, to adjust the amount of light in a picture. Shutter speed and ISO speed will also be explained later on.

You can find all of these settings on your camera. It varies depending on the type of camera you own. Most cameras will have a Manual setting. First set your camera to Manual, then you can look around for "f-stop" or something like "f/2.8". These are your Aperture settings. The lower your f-stop, the larger the aperture, which means a brighter image. The lowest value for f-stop on most cameras is 2.8.

Try messing around with the aperture settings until you find a setting that suits what you are looking for in an image.

Step 4: Changing the Shutter Speed

Shutter speed does somewhat the same things as the Aperture. The shutter is simply a hatch inside the camera that opens to let light in to the sensors when a picture is taken. The shutter speed is how long the shutter is open during the capturing of a picture.

Shutter speed is measured in time. On your camera, it will show the shutter speed as either a fraction, or a whole number.

For example, 1/300 means that the shutter is open for one three-hundredth of a second. This is a very quick speed. Having the picture taken this quickly, is very useful when taking Action Shots. Action shots, or Sports shots, are when you are taking pictures of moving subjects. Having the shutter speed very quick, will make these pictures turn out very focused.

Also, on your camera, when it says something like 4", that is also the time length in which the shutter is open. The quotations mean seconds, so that would mean that the shutter is open for 4 seconds. This is a very slow speed. Slow shutter speeds enable you to take pictures that appear ghostly. For example, set your camera up on a tripod or flat surface, and set the shutter speed to around 5 seconds. Press the capture button, then jump in front of the lens about halfway through, and stand still until the capture is complete. This will create an effect that makes you look slightly transparent.

The picture below is a very common use of slow shutter speeds. As you can see, the camera captured the lights from the cars over a long period of time, leaving a trail of white headlights that ends up being a very cool effect.

Also, try messing around with fast shutter speeds, and catch some mid-action shots whit moving subjects.

Lastly, fast shutter shots require more light, and having the flash turned ON is very effective for that. Slow shutter shots take much more time to absorb light, which means a darker setting without flash is ideal.

Step 5: ISO Speed

The ISO speed is also a setting that changes the brightness in a picture. ISO speed controls how sensitive the sensors are to light. The lower the ISO speed, the darker your pictures will turn out. The higher your ISO speed, the lighter your pictures will turn out. The numbers often range from 100-1800.

ISO speed helps customize your pictures even more. The only real con to increasing your ISO speed to let more light in, is it will become slightly worse quality. Much like the other techniques, find a setting that suits you and what you want your pictures to look like.

Remember that drastic changes in these 3 main settings may not always be the best idea. Fiddle around with the settings, and take many pictures before you decide which settings are for you.

Perhaps leaving your ISO setting on AUTO is the best idea, especially for beginners.

Step 6: Basics - Conclusion

These are the basics for customizing your photos! Understanding these simple settings and techniques will help you in getting the picture quality that you desire.

Remember - Take a lot of pictures, that way you have a lot to choose from when you are looking for your best!

Once you have all of these techniques down-pat, try some of the other camera's settins such as Macro mode, which allows you to take very close-up pictures!

Experimentation is key. Try different settings, and take lots of pictures. Adding all of these things together will get you the results you need.

Happy capturing!



    • Metalworking Contest

      Metalworking Contest
    • Water Contest

      Water Contest
    • Fix It! Contest

      Fix It! Contest

    20 Discussions

    I really love playing with the shutter speed i don't know why. It gives me fun and joy and I feel loosened up as well. Anyway, I enjoy your blog, keep it up man!

    I really love playing with the shutter speed i don't know why. It gives me fun and joy and I feel loosened up as well. Anyway, I enjoy your blog, keep it up man!

    Brandon555, that fly picture, can I get you tell me the type of camera you used and lens to get that type of Macro photo, I'd love to catch my Venus fly traps in action that close ...... (( see the look on there face as they become lunch ))

    2 replies

    Any SLR with a macro lens (+ maybe a teleconverter or extension tubes depending on how much magnification you need), would be capable of taking a shot like that.

    I wrote an 'ible on basic photography that touches on macro photography and the equipment you need if you're interested.

    Why not cover abit on macro photography? I know that the macro-mode on my camera is for taking up-close pics but i think there's more to that. Would you mind to enlighten me?

    Overall this is a well-made instructable! I'm a beginner photographer and truly I have learnt a substantial amount of information regarding photography , just by reading this instructables. I suggest you put in more pics for comparison , especially since this is a guide to basics of photography. Well-Done! p.s. - great command of english too!

    I think maybe you can add another photo to do some form of comparison

    This isn't strictly true. A digital camera will adjust aperture/shutter speed to match the ISO speed you've selected, attempting to render the same image. A higher ISO means the camera is more sensitive (it actually increases the gain of the imaging sensor) to it can pick out dimmer light. As everything would be brighter it either increases the shutter speed or decreases the aperture (or both).

    The photographic guide would be MUCH more helpful if they included the exposure details, i.e.; ISO, shutter speed, and aperture for the photos. Pretty pictures are nice but hardly instructional.

    just to put it out there, on most digital cameras from dslr's to advanced point and shoots, studies have have shown an iso of 200 is normally the best iso to set at for quality. NOT true for film cameras however. for film the lower the better.

    Heh...My sister's new nickname from me is "Tripod." I went on a photography trip with her last weekend, and I learned that her slow-speed hand-holding is neurosurgeon-steady. She took a picture of a flag in a dim room at 1/10 sec, and the threads were perfectly clear. AMAZING.

    Now that I've bragged about my sister for a bit (her ear is featured in my first iBle :-) ), I am curious if Brandon actually took any of the pictures displayed here. If not, did you get them from a stock photo site, or are you--intentionally or not--plagiarizing the work of a professional whose images showed up on Google Image search?

    My guess is no. I believe I recognize that last one as a pretty common classroom poster photo, and the one of the tripod is so compressed I'd have a hard time believing it's not from online. For various other reasons, I wouldn't believe that he took/made any of the other photos/charts either.

    I didn't actually take that photo but if you tell me what camera you have i can help you out. :P

    All the photos except 2, 3, and 5 were already on my hard drive. A few of them were from deviant art i think, but I'm pretty sure the others are royalty free, if there not I'm sorry because i did not intentionally mean to plagiarize. These may not be my pictures but the only reason i used them was to help explain these techniques. Thanks for the comments and sorry for the problem.