Top 10 Pro Photo Tips
There are many tricks of the trade when it comes to creating better photographs. I subscribe to the KISS Principle - Keep It So Simple. Using working methods that are consistent and uncomplicated will go a long way toward improving your final results. The first 5 tips listed are technical, and the last 5 are esthetic.
1. White Balance - ALWAYS leave your camera set on Auto White Balance. It works well nearly all the time, AND it avoids the problem of forgetting to change the setting when the lighting situation changes. The rare off-color image is easy to fix with image optimization software like Lightroom.
2. Deleting Images - NEVER Delete or Trash images from your memory card when you are out shooting. Instead, leave everything you've shot on the card, download all images onto your computer when you return home, and then delete the images you wish to discard from the computer. When you are ready to go out shooting again, format the memory card in your camera. That will clear all images from the card. Why this method? Memory cards are designed to be a one-way street. Images enter the card and are then processed. When you use your camera to delete or trash an image, you are asking the card to essentially go "in reverse" which can damage the card's functions over time.
3. Cable Release Substitute - To minimize camera vibration when shooting long exposures on a tripod, use your camera's 2-second delay shutter function if you don't have a cable release or remote shutter trigger. The delay will allow the camera to settle down after you have pressed the Shutter Button.
4. Back Button Focus - Without question, this is the most foolproof way to get sharp images AND improve battery life. Most cameras have a Custom Function setting allowing you to remove the autofocus function from the Shutter Button and move it to a button on the back of the camera.
5. Camera View Screen - Don't be fooled into thinking that if an image looks good on the view screen, the exposure is adequate. Only the Histogram can give you that information. The view screen can be lightened or darkened for ease of viewing and is not an indication of proper exposure.
6. Look For The Light - Train yourself to see the quality of light and its direction. Learn to recognize hard light with strong shadows, and soft light with gentle gradations. Determine where the light is coming from - front, side, or back. The more you know, the better your pictures will be.
7. Sunrise / Sunset - For beautiful, rich sky colors, the best time to shoot is when the sun is below the horizon, usually 20 to 30 minutes before sunrise or after sunset. Arrive early and stay late to watch the sky change minute by minute, and shoot all the changes.
8. Be A Stalker - When you can, walk all around the subject to find the best light direction and the best shooting angles. Try different lighting directions, and use a combination of high angles and low ones. Often you won't know what will work best until you view it on your computer screen at the end of the day, so shoot all you can.
9. Walk To Your Own Beat - Try to tap into your own creativity, rather than copying what you have seen others do. Find what moves you, photograph what excites you. While there will be many rejects, know that all pros reject a majority of what they shoot. So don't expect each image to be a winner. But rejoice in the ones that sing.
10. Travel Light - Nothing kills the creative spark more than struggling with heavy and unwieldy camera gear. Try not to carry every lens and accessory you own when you are out shooting. Carry only what you need for the outing in a camera bag or backpack that you can access easily, and that is not too heavy. You want to be free to create, and not be struggling with a huge bag and an overabundance of gear.