Photography

What a novice photographer needs to know: how to take captivating shots

Everyone wants to take beautiful, memorable pictures when they start taking pictures. Some get it right away, some get it with experience. Some people get frustrated and give up the hobby before they get an acceptable result. In this blog, we’re going to talk about different techniques that will make it easier for you to take cool pictures.

Composition

In general, composition refers to the combination and mutual arrangement of objects in the picture. Composition building or seeing it in everyday life situations is an essential part of a photographer’s work – check my profile here.

In contrast to the technical subtleties of photography, mastering the skills of building a successful composition is much more difficult. However, there are a few theoretical aspects that every beginning photographer should know.

Linear perspective. Photography is a way of representing the three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional plane, so the perception of the image is somehow related to linear perspective.

It adds volume to the image, breaking down the wall that appears between the photo and the viewer. In order to maintain the correct perspective, the camera must be at the same level as the subject, and the plane of focus must be parallel to it. Otherwise, unwanted perspective distortion and distortion of proportions will appear in the photo.

This mistake is often made by beginner photographers when working with people. When shooting high-rise buildings it is often impossible to avoid this effect because of the close proximity of the subject.

Plot center of the picture. It is the object or a part of it that draws your attention. The right choice of subject center is the key to a “catchy” picture. Depending on the genre of photography, the story center can be anything: the whole fence or graffiti on it, the model, the model’s face, or just the eyes.

A bright subject center will attract the viewer’s attention, while an unsuccessful one will make the picture uninteresting. In the example below, the photographer has dispersed the viewer’s attention between two story centers: children playing on the near and far rings.

The main task for the photographer is to find the focal point of the shot and to detach unnecessary things from it with the help of compositional techniques.

Rule of thirds. One of the basic concepts of composition. Divide the frame into nine equal rectangles. Four points formed by the intersection of lines attracts the viewer’s attention more than any other part of the picture. Experienced photographers arrange the composition so that the main details are located here.

To simplify the task, almost all cameras and smartphone applications have a function that allows you to display virtual lines on the screen or viewfinder while you are shooting.

It is worth noting that the rule is not absolute. Don’t waste effort in placing the object strictly at the point of intersection of the segments. A slight offset from the center is quite enough.

The rule of thirds is often supplemented by the rule of diagonals. This popular method of frame composition is based on the diagonal placement of objects in the picture.

In contrast to the rule of thirds, photographers use central framing. It is a composition method in which the subject is positioned symmetrically with respect to a horizontal or vertical line passing through the center of the frame.

Frame lighting. Types and basic techniques

Lighting is no less important part of the picture. Bad lighting can ruin the best shot. Just as the best light can not breathe life into a poorly composed photo.

The importance of light can be inferred from the complexity of the schemes used by professionals in studio photography. This is the subject of a more detailed consideration. At this point, let’s get acquainted with the basic types of lighting and light in photography.

According to the presence of the diffuser the light is divided into:

  • directional – the shadows are sharply pronounced, the light-shadow boundary is clear.
  • diffused – evenly illuminating the entire surface of the object.
  • combined – a combination of the first and second types.

According to the number of directions of light is:

  • simple (one source).
  • complex (several sources).

According to hardness:

  • rigid – the source is a discharge lamp or filament. With hard light, the borders of shadows are accurately outlined and the relief is hyperbolized. 
  • soft – there is a translucent screen between the source and the object. Soft light reduces the relief of the object.

According to the incidence angle the light is:

  • straight (incidence angle is more than 45 degrees),
  • oblique (less than 45 degrees).
  • slanting (close to 0 g).

Division by type of lighting

Drawing light. Light that is focused on the subject. Its task is to create volume and relief in a composition. It can be either hard or soft. In studio conditions it is placed at a medium distance from the subject. Not more than two meters.

In natural light the sun’s rays coming in through a window or under a tree would be like a natural light source.

Filling light. This light fills the composition of the frame evenly. Light is diffused and soft. No light and shade pattern. Used for detail, in combination with other types of illumination.

Modeling light. Used to highlight a certain part of a composition, to get highlights, reflections, softening shadows. Generated by a small light source, creating a narrow, directional stream of light.

Background light. Background lighting helps to separate the model from the background, to show the depth of space. The background light is usually less intense than the fill or painting light. It’s hard to get this kind of light in natural conditions.

Background Light. As with backlighting, the light source is behind the composition, but it is directed not at the background, but at the subject. As a result, you get light fringing the contours of the object.

When working with light, remember that changing light affects light and shade differently: the brightness of dark areas fades more slowly than light areas. As a result, a decrease in lightness causes a drop in contrast. When arranging light sources, you should pay attention to their distance from the subject. The closer the source is to the illuminated body, the clearer the borders of shadows.

Camera angle

In photography, foreshortening refers to the position of the camera in relation to the subject being photographed. The success of a good picture depends to a large extent on the correctly chosen angle.

Upper foreshortening (the camera is higher than the subject). Often used to fit more space into the frame. Official events (meetings, councils, meetings) are often photographed from this angle, and an upper angle is also used when shooting from a quadcopter.

When shooting people, the upper angle is used when it is necessary to visually reduce the figure of the model. The emphasis in this case is shifted to the face.

Level photography (the camera is level with the subject). It is used to get the most natural shot without damaging the proportions or shifting the emphasis to some part of the subject.

Lower foreshortening (the camera is lower than the subject). Using this position the camera can visually magnify the object in the frame, giving it “weight” and significance. Using this angle when taking portraits may have the undesirable effect of making the lower part of the face larger.

Shooting from the ground (with the camera on the ground). This angle makes you look at the world with different eyes. It allows you to look at familiar objects from a completely different angle. Interesting shots are taken from this angle after the rain, when the surface reflects the light better.

Shooting from above (the camera is perpendicular to the plane on which the subject is located). This perspective no longer affects the size of the objects, allowing you to get an idea of their actual size. Photographs from this perspective taken by quadcopters look impressive.

Conclusion

Having mastered the basic techniques of composition and figured out the construction of lighting, you and those around you are sure to notice the qualitative growth of the resulting images. In the previous article we already wrote about what set of techniques you need to become a pro.

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