How to Take Awesome Photos




Introduction: How to Take Awesome Photos

With all the automatic settings on today's cameras we hardly have to worry about how to set it up for a great shot, but a lot of the time, I think my camera isn't setting up it's setting for the best shot necessary or it just doesn't have the setting I want.
This instructable will show you how to make the most of your camera and how to take a great shot.

Before anyone says I copied someone else, I honestly didn't. I didn't know anyone else did this until I published. I'm going to leave this entered because its very different.

All of these photos are mine except for a sample photo in step 5.

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Step 1: Light

This basically the most important aspect of taking great photos. Sometimes you want more light, and other times you want less light. But too much or too little light can make the subject washed out or too dark to even see it well. You also don't want direct light as it can make subjects looked washed out. (more on that later)

Lets talk about times you want more light. Lets say an indoor family party or reunion. You want more light to make it seem happier and we all know how kids don't stand still. More light will make it easier to catch a moment without blurring.

The obvious answer to this is to use the flash, but that often makes the subject look washed out and unnatural because of the direct bright light. There are several ways to combat this, like a flash thats not attached to the camera, or a flash diffuser.
A better way if you're lazy is to open windows, and turn on lights. I find that flourescent lights work best because they provide bright white lights, but any lightbulb will work. You can also use work lights depending on the situations but the easiest way is to GO OUTSIDE!

Now times you don't want light, like when you're photographing a baby sleeping you'll want it to seem quiet and peaceful. I find that if its in half light, light enough that you can tell what it is when the picture is taken but dark enough that it seems dark. Think about twilight as the sun sets.

Close windows or just cover them with curtains so the light can get through but not too much. Or leave the door open with a light in another room.

Step 2: Aperture

The Aperture is basically a fancy name for the hole that the light goes through to hit the ccd (for you digital people) or the film (for you other people). This hole can change sizes to let in more or less light. These sizes are known as f-stops. The higher the number say f/16 will have a hole smaller than f/2.8

The main thing "I" use this for, since I'm not a proffesional photographer is letting in more light so I can use a faster shutter speed to catch fast movements crisply.

But this hole does much more than just let in more light, the smaller the hole the more depth of field you get. What is depth of field you say? Its the amount objects at different distances are in focus.

So say you want to take a portrait, you would set the f stop to a low number like f/2.8 (the hole is bigger now) so your subject can be in focus without having a distracting background.
But if you want to do a landscape shot you'd want to set the f stop higher to like f/16 (the hole is smaller now) so you can get the hole landscape in focus that may be at varying distances to you.

Step 3: ISO

This step is more geared for digital users, I don't know the effects of different ISO films on film cameras. Maybe someone could clear that up.

This is how sensitive the film or ccd is too light. The higher the ISO number is, the lighter the shot looks but, you lose a lot of quality to noise if you don't have a good camera.

You will most likely only mess with this in a situation where you don't want to use flash, such as a concert. I know I try not to ever touch the ISO.

I try to keep my camera's (Canon Powershot S2 IS) ISO to around 100 but I will go up to 400 if I need to. Other cameras usually SLR's can get to really high ISO's without much noise. It depends on the quality of your camera.

Quality also depends on the size of your prints or how you will be showing the photo. If you are making jumbo prints of the shot you are probably going to want to make sure the ISO is low because the "noise" will be more prevalent than if you are making small 4" by 6" prints.

Step 4: Shutter Speed

The shutter is basically a little door that opens and closes really fast to let in a certain amount of light. The faster it goes, the less light and vice versa.

This is the thing that annoys me the most. When you try and catch an action shot it either comes out blurry with a low speed or too dark with a high shutter speed.
To fix this problem you should use the other settings, ISO, the Aperture and change the environment, turn on lights/open window shades or go outside. As we talked about before a lower aperture number (bigger aperture) and a higher ISO will get you brighter shots so you can lower your shutter speed to catch some movement.

Step 5: Some Rules for a Great Shot

All the steps so far were more to improve the way your camera takes pictures and changing settings with the camera. This step will be how to actually take a great shot.

Rule of Thirds ~ This rule basically says that you should try to put such things like a horizon or the side of a building a third of the way into a picture. Imagine a giant tic-tac-toe board in your viewfinder and line up the horizon or building with one of the lines. Also put objects or subjects in one of the crosses to make the picture look better.

Leading Lines ~ These are basically lines or edges of objects that lead to the subject of your picture. A perfect example would be railroad tracks with train coming at you. The tracks lead your eyes to the train.

Framing ~ This is another cool effect you don't see too often. It is basically what the name says, framing your subject. Like looking through a window or a circle of branches.

Step 6: Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for taking good photos, but the second best tip is to take a lot of photos and sift out the bad ones on your computer later so you get great photos and good experience. The best tip is to EXPERIMENT!!!
Feel free to comment, I'll add any tips here with your name.

~Almost always use a tripod (or any pod) or rest the camera on something to get crisp shots.

~When taking shots with a telephoto lense or a really big zoom, make sure you rest the camera on something or use a tripod. I found that using the same idea for shooting a gun also works well for a camera. Take a deep breath, breath out half way, hold it, then shoot.

~Some shots look cooler when blurred, if you want to make it look like a high speed event.

~More megapixels doesn't always mean a better quality picture, it just makes it bigger.

~Digital cameras' shutter buttons can go in halfway and all the way. Halfway locks the focus and lets you see pretty close to what the actual shot looks like. It also lets you steady your hand for the actual picture. Make sure you lock the focus on the subject, then reframe the shot how you want.

~Try using your flash outdoors to eliminate some shadows created by the sun on your subjects face and/or body.

~Try to keep your backgrounds as plain as possible for portraits.

~Try different angles, tilting your camera (a little or 90 degrees) and other ideas. Lots of times unique pictures look better than the normal boring ones.

~Don't be afraid to get close and use macro settings. (theres an instructable on that somewhere)

~Look around you, the most beautiful thing isn't always the most obvious.

~If your taking pictures of landscapes and plan to be around for a while, keep looking at the same subject, different times of day impact the subject a lot.

Please vote, rate, and comment!

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    14 Discussions


    11 years ago on Step 3

    It turns out that they are both the same thing. ISO means International Standards Organization and ASA means American Standard Association. So it is just the film or sensor that are becoming more sensitive.
    Shutter speed is just measured in fractions of a second.

    Try looking here


    Reply 11 years ago on Step 3

    yes sorry realised that shortly after posting the comment lol didnt have time to delete it


    Reply 11 years ago on Step 3

    its fine, everyone does that every once in a while.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Your main pic breaks all the rules!


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Only half, but good point... Ill change it when I get the time.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! I worked hard. *coughvotecoughifcoughyoucoughlikecough* Sorry about that, i get coughing fits sometimes.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I like the way of splitting it up to use it's useful! nice i'ble voted and +1