Tag Archives: Angles

Seeing the subject… refining your vision

Beat it up!

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Beat it up! By Netkonnexion on Flickr Photographers eye :: Seeing the subject… refining your vision | External link - opens new tab/page
To really look at a subject you have to see it as you have never seen it before.

Cultivating the photographers eye…

What the “eye” really means is difficult to define. One thing’s sure. As “photographers eye” develops you see things differently. Refining your vision to see differently is how you develop your version of the ‘eye’.

Looking at the scene

In Working the scene I described how to walk through the scene, understand the angles and ideas that relate to the scene and ways to find “the” shot. At first it is not a simple process. You are developing a habit. Doing things that you would not do naturally.

Standing up and using the camera from your normal eye position makes your subject look like you always see it. Surprisingly, it is also the same way most others see it too. Where is the novelty, interest and insight in that? Photographers eye, Seeing the subject in a different way requires refining your vision.

Well, you can change it all by studying your subject from new angles, new light and with new perspectives.

What if the scene is a close up subject?

A wonderful thing about photography is the ability to isolate a subject, get in close to it and examine it in a way we normally do not try to do with our eyes.

The challenge is to do things differently so we can see things differently. In this blog I often urge people to get in close – fill the frame. That is one way to see a subject anew. There are others. Below, there are some ideas to get you to see your subject differently.

Photographers eye – Getting in close:

Really close means a macro lens. If you don’t have one then you can get some macro extension tubes. These are an inexpensive way to do macro photography. However, the way to see things differently is to try and see the subject in ways that are different to the everyday perspective. Using a macro lens, tubes, or even very close with an ordinary lens you need to be versatile. Get around your subject, see it from at least ten different positions. Try to make every shot different. Take every shot as if you are seeing the subject as a new object. Don’t just look at the whole subject, get right into the tiny detail, all of the tiny details. (See Amazon search results for macro extension tubes External link - opens new tab/page).

Photographers eye – Getting the Angles

Developing your vision is not just about details, even if there are lots of them. Try taking each detail from a whole range of angles, under, over and from the back too. Angles on a subject help to start you looking at the aesthetics of an object. Look for curves, pleasing intersections, great lines, diagonals… Anything that helps you to see the beauty in a subject and shows it in a new way.

Photographers eye – Using different lenses

If you have them, explore the subject using a range of lenses. Get wide. Go long. Try fish-eye. Work with a prime. Go with whatever lenses you’ve got. The idea is to show the subject in a variety of different ways. Every lens has its peculiar characteristics and distortions. Training your eye to see a subject in different ways by using different lenses is one way to become sensitive to photographic perspectives. You will begin to see how a camera sees. If you only ever use one lens you will begin to see everything in a plain way. If you can see things in a variety of different ways you will begin to start looking at things differently.

Photographers eye – seeing different light, different exposures

Light is the essence of everything we do in photography. While you are working with small subjects (like in my picture above) you can make changes to the light. You can use ambient light, window light, natural light, reflected light and domestic lights. Then there are coloured lights, soft light, hard light, and even laser light. Then, you also have dozens of different ways to use artificial photographic lights too. Added to these different illuminations you can also develop a whole range of exposures. You can explore your subject as under-exposed, over-exposed, dark or bright. You can use shadows, different light angles, different light heights. There are literally thousands of ways to light and expose any one subject. Explore as many of them as possible.

Other variables:

Try different backgrounds, different colours and different textures on your subject. Vary through monochrome, colour, colour intensity… try it against black or against white. Use different depths of field, more bokeh, less bokeh. Blur, movement… Try everything. Just make it you mission to look for the different way of doing it.

Refining your vision – developing photographers eye

Developing your vision as a photographer is about understanding the way you can shoot things differently to other people. You are trying to deliver to your viewer a different view of the world. To find what you are good at, what your unique perspective is, you must explore a universe of different approaches. Work with new angles, light variations, colours… well everything discussed above and more.

When you see a new subject get into it, explore it, by trying everything you can to see it anew and in a new light (literally). After a while, with practice, you will develop the photographers eye. To do that you must learn to see new ways that you can take a shot without actually needing to take it. Then you will be envisioning the shot in advance. You will also be developing your eye – your unique eye. You will have learned to see differently and to have put your particular style into your shots.

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

How to take photos – each important step in making a photograph

Infographic download - How to take photos

• Infographic showing the various steps in how to take photos •
A guide to what you should doing to make great images.
• Click to download printable full page version

Getting down to the detail…

Yesterdays article was How to take photos – each important step in making a photograph. Today I want to share the detail behind each step. Be warned! You might need to think again about your existing knowledge. Unlearning old ideas will help you to move forward and improve.

How to take photos – The location

Lots of people think you can just turn up and take pictures. Well you can, but often they are not good ones. Getting the best out of your location involves understanding what you’ll find there. Find out about the weather on the day. An idea of light levels and times of sunset and sunrise etc. is useful too. There have probably been lots of visits by others at popular destinations. Check “Google Images” for that site. Google will help with other details too.

When you arrive don’t just fire off loads of shots. Settle down and get into the location. Don’t make photography mistakes that mean you miss great shots. The first time you do this consider a variety of shots. Think about more than one shot, think about the whole shoot.

How to take photos – Examine the scene

Considering the scene is an important part of the work-flow on site. Unless you have been there before you need to get to know it. Use all your knowledge about camera angles, composition, lighting, camera settings and so on. Take the time to examine your location while thinking of these things. Consider your feelings about the scene too. How you feel will help your shot be an impassioned response to the location. What you feel about the scene is the best guide on how to take photos at that location.

How to take photos – Review the light

Most photographers forget this step. They are too wrapped up in the scene and the camera settings or the passion of it all. This step will make or break your shot. Look at the light. If you don’t know what I mean read these:

Ask yourself some simple questions about the light…

  • Is it hard or soft?
  • Is it coloured or more neutral?
  • Is it at the right angle to best capture the location/scene?
  • What is the best time for the right light?
  • Is it very bright and intense or dull and diffused?
  • Do I need any artificial illumination (flash, diffusers etc)?
  • Is the shadow hardly defined (sun up high) or strongly defined (sun to the side)?

Lean about the properties and vocabulary of light. It helps give you a greater understanding of photography. These questions, and others, help you make decisions about lighting for your scene. For more on “How to take photos – Light and Lighting” see the resource page in the SUBJECTS/ARTICLES menu at the top of every page.

How to take photos – Create a mental version of the the shot

If you want to make a great image – have a great picture in your head of your intended outcome. Visualisation has helped athletes, artists, thinkers, inventors and others to achieve amazing things. Train your mind to visualise in detail. If you see what you want to achieve it will guide you when setting up your camera. Take the time to create that mental picture – in detail. Consider how you are going to make the best of the light when you consider how to take photos. More about visualisation… 80 year old secret of world class photographers revealed.

How to take photos – Compose the shot

By now you have an intimate photographic knowledge of your scene. Composing the shot is about realising that potential. Long-time followers of this blog already know something about composition. For first-timers you can get lots of information from our Composition resources page in the SUBJECTS/ARTICLES menu at the top of every page. Composition is a skill that evolves as you develop as a photographer. Knowing more about composition helps your awareness and skill develop. Read about it to gain insight. Think about it every shot.

How to take photos – Review and adjust the camera settings

Now you have a picture in mind, composed, and are ready to set up your exposure. The exposure is defined by your camera settings. Camera makers will have you believe that the auto-setting on your camera is the perfect exposure. The fact is they made informed guesses to arrive at that exposure. It is different for every model of image sensor. Modern cameras do make a good representation of the scene. It is not always what you want however. You can change the exposure by under-exposing, over-exposing and by using different apertures, ISO levels and shutter times. That is your interpretation of the shot. When you think about how to take photos, plan how you want the image to come out.

Having a visualisation in your head helps you set the camera up to make that mental image. You do it using ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed. Even using one of the ‘mode’ settings is still a way of regulating your exposure. They all adjust those three basic facets of the exposure.

Here are some other links to pull together ideas about exposure:

How to take photos – Stabilise the camera

You want the photo to be sharp, crisp and clear. The faster the shutter speed the easier it is to get a sharp shot. But often, especially for a good quality shot, longer exposures are better. You need a good stance to hand-hold the camera. You will need a tripod (or other method) to steady it for longer exposures.

Stance is down to basic technique and comfort. The stance you use will be a personal thing for you. I have found many photogs have to relearn their stance after many years of a poor stance. It is best to learn a good one early. Here is my recommendation: Simple tips for a good stance

The use of tripods or other supports is a wide subject. It is also one that many learners tend to ignore- at least at first. When learning how to take photos sharpness is vital. Become acquainted with a tripod (preferably a good one) as early as you can. Your images will improve a huge amount. Here is some advice about tripods:

And, here is some basic advice about improving sharpness overall – The Zen of sharpness – 12 easy ways to improve

How to take photos – 15 second check

OK, that may seem like a long time. However, it is actually the time you need. You can get faster at it, but if you are taking a serious attitude to your shot then give it the time. You can find out all about the the 15 second check by reading these in order:

  1. An old sailors trick to improve your photography
  2. The fifteen second landscape appraisal
How to take photos – “Click”

This is where you press the shutter button. How you press that button can make a difference to your sharpness. Earlier, I mentioned this link, Simple tips for a good stance. It also gives advice on pushing the button without affecting sharpness.

An essential element of your shot is about confidence in what you have done. Today we are lucky. We just look at the back of our camera. Your first “click” may be a test shot. If your settings need adjustment then a simple technique called “Chimping” will help. Chimp and adjust. You will only need to do it a few times to get the shot right. You will not need to machine-gun the site with hundreds of “just in case” shots.

How to take photos – Work the scene

Chimping helps you set up for the shot and compose it. To get other possible shots you visualised earlier, you should work the scene. Repeat all the steps you have just done for each of the shots you foresaw. Working the scene is a skill and takes practice.

How to take photos – Time line

What is not obvious from the diagram is that the diagonal arrow is also a time-line of the shot. Of course it is a different length for every shot. You will have different problems to solve and ideas to consider for every shot. That’s fine. You have just learned a more careful, precise method for how to take photos. As you practice will quickly get faster at taking shots. But you will also make better images.

A promise

I can guarantee that if you follow the steps on this page you will…

  • Take less shots;
  • Get a better hit-rate (more usable shots per shoot);
  • Spend less time in post-processing;
  • Have better composition;
  • Improve your photography overall.

What is less obvious is that you will also save a lot of time.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Time – 5 Essential Tips For Photographers

The cosmic clock is ticking... photographers should be aware of time

The cosmic clock is ticking... photographers should be aware of time

Time is an imperative for photographers

An essential element of photography, time impacts on us photographers in many ways. Here are some of the issues you should be thinking about.

The Obvious
Of course… shutter speed, the time the shutter is open. We all know that it is one of the most important aspects of taking a photograph. Tip number one: is to know the impact of shutter speed on the other two important aspects of exposure. I am talking about ISO and Aperture. Without a clear understanding of how these three components interact photographers are doomed to live with auto-settings.

Shutter speed, ISO and aperture all work together to produce your exposure. Between the three of them there is a balance. Raise/lower one of these and one or both of the others have to be adjusted to compensate. Your exposure is a dynamic balance between these three elements. Shutter speed is inseparable from the other two. Read up on the three components of exposure so you understand the impact of shutter speed.

Less Obvious

Composition is a time related activity. We all think about the best way to take a shot. What do we included or exclude? How do we frame? What angle is best? The questions are endless… the compositional variations are too. Actually, the important issue is getting the shot. Some people walk up to a scene snap and go. Have they considered the composition fully? There is a balance to be had. Time is important. I find that as my students develop the shot consideration-time shortens. They spend less time thinking about ‘the’ shot and more time working on variations… hunting for the right shot; working the scene. Tip number two is learn the settings on your camera and practice thinking about compositional elements but remember the time. Get in a number of shots, different angles, perspectives and so on. As you practice these skills try to work to time. Don’t machine-gun your shots. Work the scene – quickly, efficiently.

Being there

Timing is everything: If you don’t turn up you will miss the shot. In photography getting to the right place at the right time is everything. If you are late you will miss something… I am certain that quite often it will be the importing ‘thing’. Tip number three… leave on time, know where you are going and leave enough time to set up before you are going to take the shots. It sounds an obvious tip. However, there is a hidden component. The most important part of getting the shot is being in the right place at the right time. That will need some work. Work the scene before the event; the day before, the hour before. Which ever is right. Know where you will be taking the shots. Know what are the best places to stand. Know in advance what shots you want to take. This planning is essential if you want to make the right moves when you are doing your shoot.

Knowing the time: A lot of activities in photography are about time of day. The Golden Hour at the beginning and end of the day is quite a precise time. Knowing when it starts and ends is something you should think about if you are to make the best use of your time. Precise timings for the Golden Hour are calculated as are the angle of the sun to a particular location. It is therefore possible for you to know what time you need to be at a place to catch the golden glow of this great time of day. And, you can find out what direction to look in if the sun is not apparent when you arrive. If you don’t know the terrain you could turn up at a location and find that your times are out because the hills prevent you seeing the sun at that time.

Tip number four… know the time, and direction of your shot in advance and make sure the light is right! Consult a map to work out if you will be in hills. Ordnance Survey maps  External link - opens new tab/page have contours to indicate the lie of lines of hills and their height. You can find out the times of the Golden Hour on The Golden Hour Calculator  External link - opens new tab/page. You can also find the position of the sun  External link - opens new tab/page at any time of the day.

Tip five… Other important times of day you should know about:
Dawn and Dusk times: dawn is the start of the morning golden hour; Dusk is the end of the evening golden hour. However, having a knowledge of exactly what time the sun rises and sets lets you know how much time you have left on your shoot (or when it is about to start).
Mid-day: this is the time the sun is likely to be harsh, producing hard light. Mid-day is not a good time for photography. Colours may be washed out and the overhead sun reduces those all-important shadows. Remember, local DST (Daylight Saving Time) may may affect the time the sun is overhead.
Moon phases and times: The moon is a great addition to night shots. Knowing when it is up and what phase it is at is important. There are several websites with Moon tables and times.
Astronomy: The astronomical side of photography is great fun and very rewarding. You will need to have precise timings of astronomical events starting and finishing as well as knowing where to look.

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.