Jessops are back, and running some excellent photography courses in six branches across the country. I tried the DSLR Level 1 course this week, and while I probably won’t be booked for Cara Delevingne’s next photo shoot, I did pick up some tricks and tips that you might find useful.
Fancy having a go yourself? Prices start from £119 and you can click here to learn more.
1. Before you use a DSLR camera for the first time, locate the ‘eye diopter’ – a small dial next to the viewfinder. Turn it until the numbers that appear in the viewfinder are sharp – then whenever you look through it, you’ll always know your photo is in focus.
2. Always use your dominant eye to look through the viewfinder. To work out which eye this is, hold your finger out in front of you, then try to focus on an object beyond it. Close one eye and then the other. Does the object seem to ‘jump’? If it DOESN’T, you’re using your dominant eye.
3. There are three key things to consider before taking a photo – the ISO, the shutter speed and the aperture.
4. To take a close-up picture of an object or person with an arty blurred background, put your camera into Aperture Priority mode – usually denoted by A, or Av. Now set the f-stop to a small number – say f1.8. This means your aperture will be wide – in other words, you’re creating a big hole that lets lots of light into the camera. This creates a shallow ‘depth of field’, so it the camera makes things in the foreground look sharp, but the background blurry.
In the image on the left, the f-stop is f5.6 – on the right, it’s f16. The latter creates a wider depth of field so that more is in focus, and is the way to go if you’re shooting a landscape.
5. Changing the shutter speed – measured in seconds – helps when you’re photographing moving objects. To capture something – or someone – moving fast and make them look as though they are still, the shutter speed should be at a fast setting.
These shots of a water balloon bursting and my instructor Ian jumping were taken in Shutter Priority mode, denoted by S or, for Canon cameras, Tv. The speed was set at 1/500 of a second, and I put the camera in burst mode, so it was continuously taking shots to give me a better chance of capturing the moment.
6. If you’re photographing fireworks, time how long it takes for them to burst, then set the shutter speed to the same time – so if it takes two seconds, set the speed to two seconds.
7. For more interesting shots, use the ‘Rule of Thirds’ when framing it up by dividing your composition with an imaginary grid of nine equally sized boxes. Striking features – such as a person’s eyes – should fall where the lines intersect. If you’re taking a picture of a horizon, line it up along the top third or bottom third of the photo, rather than have it run dead centre.
8. Always focus on the eyes when taking portraits. Many of us simply aim in the general direction of the face, then find the nose is in focus, but not the eyes! Also try to frame your subject off centre, so it doesn’t look like a mug shot!
9. Finally, try this. In a darkish room, set your camera’s ISO to 200, then go into Shutter Priority Mode and set it to four seconds. Now focus, then get a friend to spell out a word in front of you using the torch on their smartphone. The result should resemble something like this…
For more tips, check out my post on How to Take Better Photos.Read more →