Guest post by Kayla Lamoreaux
I am excited to be a guest author today here on Scraps of Mind. With Karen on vacation it seems I can talk about whatever I want, right? Well I suppose since you all are used to excellent content I better be on my best behavior. I thought I would share with you a few ideas to think about the next time you pull your camera out to shoot a photo.
First things first – a great camera doesn’t guarantee a great photo. I feel so sad when I visit online photography forums and people write messages something akin to this – “I just can’t wait to get my digital SLR – then my photos will be great.” As if the secret to a great photo is hidden inside the nearest SLR. Believe me, it isn’t and I have plenty of bad photos to prove it! There are definitely some advantages to an SLR – but aside from a larger lens aperture and camera release the differences between an SLR and your point and shoot can be minimal if you learn to compose your photos artistically.
One of the most important things to look at when shooting a photo is composition. The more you practice at it, no matter what camera you use, the better and more instinctive you will become – eventually it will become second nature. There are a few things to remember – and sometimes they are best evaluated by looking at photos so I will share a few of my good and not so good shots to illustrate my point…
When shooting landscape scenes – many a photo is shot with the horizon level dead center – case in point….
In this photo I was trying to capture the lens flare and trail of our boat in the water. The problem? My horizon ended up dead center in the photo. When the horizon is dead center, the eye looks at the photo and doesn’t really know where to go – you lose the focal point!
The fix? If you want the focus on the sky (sunset shots, clouds, etc.) Move the horizon down. If you want the focus on the ground – move the horizon up. You can see in this shot I have redeemed myself somewhat (still wish it was a clearer day…) I wanted to focus on the lens flare and clouds so I moved the horizon down to draw the eye upward in the photo.
The Rule of Thirds is one of the most basic rules in photography. It is always worth a review – basically it says that we should divide our photos into thirds vertically and horizontally (think tic-tac-toe). The intersection of the two horizontal dividing lines and the two vertical lines create four points – each of which is a good location for a center of interest in a photo. For you visual people like me – here is an illustration –
You can see that the baby’s face (where I want the eye to go to the focal point) is dead-on for the rule of thirds. But what about the photos that aren’t? There is an alternative way to place your center of interest and that is by dividing the photo into four equal quadrants and then finding the center of each. Here is an example with the same photo – you can see they are similar but a little different…
Both of these composition rules give you a focal point that is dead off-center. So if the rule of thirds or quadrants seem too technical, just remember not to center your photo – and don’t be afraid of quiet space in a photo! Also, some of your cameras may have a grid option for the viewfinders so as you are composing the photo, you can put your focal point right where it needs to be….
The last thing I want to touch on today is the importance of color value contrast in a photo. This is why many a good photographer captures their best photos early in the morning or later in the afternoon in the hours just before sunset. The sun casts a golden light over everything that is really beautiful. Another great time to shoot is after a rainstorm in the early or evening hours – the water in the air picks up more blues and greens, making landscapes seem more vivid.
I learned this lesson the hard way a few weeks ago while on an airboat trip – I was surrounded by thousands of American Avocet birds – and because the water was gray, the mountains in the distance were brown and the sky was hazy – my photos are really dull. (Getting on an airboat in the wildlife management area was a treat – and I didn’t get to pick my time of day – so I really shouldn’t complain – but knowing the photo that could have been…)
Here is the same type of bird – in the early morning hours – from left to right you have a marbled avocet, American avocets, and an American pelican. The vividness of the colors in this photo really gives it more impact. This is why the school photographers tell us to have our children wear vivid colors on school picture day – it really does help to make the photo look better!
I hope these tips have been helpful. I want to thank Karen for letting me guest write. If you would like more photography tips and tutorials, check out my blog at The Legacy Lady
Scraps of Mind would like to sincerely thank Kayla for this Guest Post. Kayla writes The Legacy Lady blog where she shares her great photography tips and her passion for leaving a scrapbooking legacy.