Whether you’ve just got a new camera and are looking to learn some new photography techniques or have been shooting for a while and want to master some old ones, this essential photographer’s resource is here to help.
This tops ideas for best photography techniques to try covers some of the most popular types of photography, so whether you want to improve your portrait photography or learn how to take better landscapes, discover the secret to sharp close-up photos or start out in street photography, you’ll find some essential tips and tricks here.
Focus on the eyes
While eye contact is not always desirable in a portrait, sharp eyes certainly are. Manually select an AF point that’s positioned over one of your model’s eyes, or use the central focus point to lock focus on their eye.
Then, with the shutter release half-pressed to keep the setting locked, recompose your picture before taking the shot.
Using a standard or telephoto lens
Wide-angle lenses are a great choice for photographing environmental portraits, where you want to show a person within a specific context. However, wide-angle lenses used close-up will distort facial features and creative unflattering pictures.
A better choice for portraits is either a standard lens or a short telephoto lens. The classic portrait focal lengths for a full-frame camera are 50mm, 85mm prime lenses and a 70-200mm zoom.
These will help to compress features and provide a more natural-looking result.
Use Aperture Priority mode
Aperture Priority gives you direct control over the aperture, and as a result the depth of field (DOF).
Fast prime lenses, such as 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.2 enable you to choose very large apertures for a shallow depth of field. This can help you create those creamy-smooth, out of focus backgrounds that give portraits a professional quality.
Working with such a narrow band of sharpness means that you need to be accurate with focusing – the entire portrait will look soft if you don’t focus accurately on the eyes.
Using window light
You don’t need an expensive home studio lighting kit to take amazing portraits – a window and a reflector can help you achieve stunning natural light portraits without spending too much.
Position your model at an angle to the window and use a white or silver reflector to open up any shadows across their face. A silver reflector will give a crisper quality of light than a white one, although the effect won’t be as subtle.
Be aware of any color casts that may be introduced by features on the other side of the glass as well – a lush green lawn can give skin tones a sickly quality, while late evening sunlight on a patio will reflect lots of warm light.
When it comes to lighting baby portraits, natural light is the best choice. Flash will just end up spooking them. Try and position them near to a window and use a reflector to bounce light into any shadows.
The more light you can get onto your subject, the lower ISO sensitivity you can use for the best quality photos.
To catch a baby at their best, photograph them just after a feed or when they’ve woken up first thing in the morning.
They’ll be more active and alert than at other times of the day, and you’re more likely to get the kind of cooing baby portraits that parents will love.