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Take Your Photography to the Next Level

by Catherine Ramsey (follow)
Blog (395)      Articles (166)     

Are you feeling uninspired by your photography? Hungry for a new challenge? Then it’s time to kick it up a notch. Here are some easy ideas to help you improve your photography today, without splashing out on a whole new kit.

Use AV or TV priority modes instead of auto
If you’re at the start of your photography journey and haven’t been brave enough to venture off of auto mode yet, why not take the leap today, or hop rather, by trying out a semi-automatic mode.

This is a good way to familiarise yourself with manual settings before breaking into full manual mode. Both AV and TV modes allow you to select a desired Aperture or Shutter Speed while making the camera figure out the rest. Read up more about these settings on the blog here.

Shoot with a shallow Depth of Field
Shooting with a shallow depth of field (DOF) is a sure way to make your subject ‘pop’ out of its background.

By lowering your aperture number (below f5) your backgrounds become softer, with the appearance of bokeh, while your subject remains razor sharp. Just make sure that your subject is close enough to the camera to be the clear foreground focus. It also helps to have a longer focal length, the longer the better! 50mm or beyond is the way to go.

Start a photo challenge or project
No doubt you’d have heard about photo challenges, such as the 365 challenge (take a photo every day for a year. Capeesh?).

Participating in these challenges are a great way to keep you motivated as well as get you thinking outside the box when documenting everyday life. There are challenges out there to satisfy every genre and you could probably make up your own. But to name a few, why not try a 1 week black & white challenge or a self-portrait project?

Here at Photoh we have competitions every fortnight that are open to all skill levels and interests. Find the next one here.

Step outside of your comfort zone
The phrase itself tends to stir up uncomfortable feelings in those of us who enjoy our order and routine. But as with every skill set, broadening your horizons will open your creative mind and hopefully leave you with a feeling of accomplishment.

If you’re fond of landscapes, why not mix things up and try photographing people for a change? Natural light only photographer? Head indoors or grab that speedlite for a play. You might surprise yourself.

Use lens filters
If you’ve not already got a set of basic UV filters for every lens in your kit, you should buy some. They’re a worthwhile investment, not only for improving the quality of your photos by reducing UV washout, but also for protecting your lens’ face.

A $20 lens filter will always be the preferable replacement over a new $500 lens. Polarising filters too are your next best friend when it comes to reducing the glare of a bright midday landscape, the reflection of the sun on a lake, or the blinding white of fresh snow.

Shoot RAW instead of JPEG
If you’re planning on taking your editing to the next level, along with your shooting skills, start shooting in RAW format. Jpegs are essentially photo files that have compressed all of the information that the camera has captured, whereas a RAW file keeps all of that information, uncompressed. This earns you more flexibility when it comes to editing and a better finished product. The downside, of course, is that these files will fill up your card several times quicker than the Jpegs, but perhaps that’s a lesson in itself; to force you to shoot for quality over quantity. It’s a win/win situation really.

Tune up on your compositions
When you compose your photos, do you give any thought as to where you’re placing your subjects? Well of course you do! I have yet to meet anyone who shoots without first looking where their camera is pointing. But I’m sure you could do with a little brush up on your knowledge of the rule of thirds, rule of odds, golden ratio, leading lines and all that jazz. Read up on these rules and more on the blog here.

Join a photography group
One of the easiest ways to learn is by sponging off of other people. By joining a group, either as a live meetup or online forum, you open yourself up to a treasure trove of helpful hints, opinions and critique, shared experiences and friendships. If you have questions, this is the place to go. People in interest groups are usually very keen to share their learnt knowledge and lend a helping hand.

Our very own Photoh group meets once a fortnight, with a new fun theme every time. Check here for details on the next group meetup in your state!

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