Composition and The Rule of Thirds: The heart of a photograph is its composition—the position of different elements in a frame. The easiest rule of thumb to learn and remember is the Rule of Thirds. Basically, you’ll want to break your frame into nine squares of roughly equal size. Try and align the subject of your photo along these lines and intersections and imagine the main image divided over these nine boxes.
The theory is that if you place points of interest in the intersections or along the lines that your photo becomes more balanced and will enable a viewer of the image to interact with it more naturally. Studies have shown that when viewing images that people’s eyes usually go to one of the intersection points most naturally rather than the center of the shot – using the rule of thirds works with this natural way of viewing an image rather than working against it. This gives you a more dramatic, visually interesting shot than one where you subject is located dead center. Many newer cameras have a rule of thirds grid overlay that you can activate when shooting.
Shoot in Raw! I do. Most digital cameras are set to capture files in JPG format by default. This is very convenient, as it allows you to quickly share files with friends and family—without the need for post-processing. But you’re giving up a lot of control by not shooting in Raw—which is an unprocessed file that contains the image as the camera’s sensor captured it. A Raw file allows you to tweak colors, exposure, black levels, sharpness, and other attributes with much more flexibility than an already-compressed JPG allows.
Don’t be afraid to raise your ISO! Getting a good exposure indoors usually means having to increase your ISO. Try playing around with your camera to see how high you can go before the grain and noise become unacceptable.
What is ISO?
ISO is a measurement of how sensitive your camera’s is to light. The larger the ISO (higher number), the more sensitive it is to light. The smaller the ISO (smaller number), the less sensitive it is to light. Each step up in ISO doubles the amount of light sensitivity (ISO 400 is 2x as sensitive to light as ISO 200). Using a higher ISO, you can sometimes get shots in low light that would have required a longer shutter speed or a larger aperture if you were using a lower ISO.
A or Av (for Aperture value) on a camera mode dial, is a setting on some cameras that allows YOU to choose a specific aperture value while THE CAMERA selects a shutter speed to match. This way you will have a proper exposure! The main reason for using aperture-priority mode is to control the depth of field. In landscape photography, a Small aperture (smaller hole but larger number) is necessary to have in focus foreground, middle ground and background. They are all to be rendered crisply, which means a bigger Depth of Field. In portrait photography a larger aperture (bigger hole but smaller number) is usually a better option to throw the background out of focus and make it less distracting. The larger the aperture (the hole), more light comes into your camera giving you a shallower depth of field.
Shutter Speed Priority:
Inside the camera there is a mechanism (a shutter) which controls how long light is allowed to act on the film. When you take a photograph (by pushing the shutter-release), the shutter opens and then closes a fraction of a second later. How quickly this is done is called the shutter speed and is measured in seconds
Shutter priority with longer exposures is chosen to create an impression of motion. For example, a waterfall will appear blurred and fuzzy. If the camera is panned with a moving subject, the background will appear blurred. When photographing sports or high-speed phenomena, shutter priority with short exposures can ensure that the motion is effectively frozen in the resulting image.
- Faster Shutter Speed = Freeze Action (less light)
- Slower Shutter Speed = Blur Action (more light)
A Correct Exposure is a simple combination of three important factors: Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO. These 3 factors are the heart of every exposure and they form the photographic triangle. Knowing these 3 factors will help you became creative at composing amazing photos!
- Aperture: the size of the opening of the lens when a picture is taken
- Shutter Speed: The amount of time that the shutter is open
- ISO: The measure of a digital camera sensor’s sensitivity to light
A great reference book that I highly recommend for any new photographer out there is: Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson.