Tips From a Pro Photographer
Growing in the world of photography means learning a few tips that can be the difference between getting the shot and missing the moment.
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Hold The Button Half-Way
In journalistic photography it’s frequently necessary to shoot under fairly barbaric conditions. A crowd of other photographers all shouting questions and jostling one another for position, and holding the camera over your head. In situations like that it’s sometimes necessary to switch your camera to automatic settings, particularly auto-focus. That can introduce a delay between when you push the button and when the camera actually fires as the auto-focus hunts for focus while arms, heads and other cameras are moving around in the field of view.
Pressing the shutter button half-way allows the camera to calculate exposure and focus while you’re waiting for the opportune moment. In most cameras holding the shutter button half-way also locks the exposure and focus, eliminating the delay between pressing the shutter button and the camera firing.
Though do be aware that some cameras go into continuous focus mode, which means the focus is constantly shifting as long as the button is half-way down. That’s why it’s imperative to know exactly how your camera operates in any exposure mode.
Show me a picture with rich colors, a warm golden tint to the scene, a gorgeous, deeply tinted gradient in the colors of the sky and I’ll show you a photographer who got up at 4:30 in the am and hauled a ton of gear out into the wilderness by flashlight.
There are two times during the day when the light is at its best for photography and film, both are called the “golden hour”. Usually it’s the hour just after sun up and the hour just before sunset. That’s when you’ll find photographers and film crews working furiously. Even a momentary delay will have someone saying, “We’re losing the light!” It’s not about to go dark, what they mean is they’re losing the golden hour light.
You might have seen a shot of runner where the background is a blur while the runner is in relatively sharp focus.
A pro tip for making athletes or other moving objects seem like they’re going faster than they are is to find a place where the subject is separated from the background, back up as far as you can and then zoom in.
When you then pan with the moving object, the background is moving faster in relative terms than the subject of the photo. So with a little experimentation you can find the sweet spot where the subject is frozen and the background is blurred, lending the subject the impression that they’re speeding along so fast the landscape is a blur.
Lamp Shade Tripod
This last tip is more of a humorous curiosity than serious tool, but it’s a neat trick to amaze your friends.
If you’re ever in a pinch for a tripod, see if you can find an old lamp. As it turns out, many lamp shade posts are the exact same size as your camera’s tripod mount. Take the shade off and presto, instant tripod.
Do be careful. Don’t ever force fit a tripod socket. But, in a pinch, it’s a clever way to craft an emergency tripod.