How to Capture All Elements in a Photograph

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      The rule of thirds involves placing your focal point off-center.bird image by onciu valeriu from Fotolia.com

      Composing a picture is the most important photographic element to consider. Beginners and experts alike repeatedly employ the rule of thirds to create memorable images. When shooting, imagine the scene in front of you is a canvas. Mentally draw two equally placed vertical lines and two equally placed horizon lines across the canvas. Place your focal point or point of interest where two lines intersect. Locating your subject off-center generates significantly more interest than positioning the subject directly in the middle of your photo.

    • 2
      Leading lines can draw your viewer through a photo.Railroad tracks between trees image by Denis Stenderchuck from Fotolia.com

      Introduce leading lines, another effective compositional tactic, into your picture. With any piece of art--photo or otherwise--the goal is to lead a viewer through the entire image. Use diagonals as leading lines to provide a way into the picture. Leading lines also may be straight--as in a railroad track--or they may be curved, as in a winding country road. Although not appropriate for use in every shot, the concept is one to consider for creating a strong picture.

    • 3
      Early morning light creates beautiful, rich colors.golden morning image by Brett Mulcahy from Fotolia.com

      Shoot when the light is spectacular. Lighting in a photograph is almost as important as composition. Fabulous light can elevate a ho-hum shot into something exceptional. The best light is available around dawn and prior to twilight. This type of golden light equates to a richness of color usually not reproducible at other times during the day. Research your subject prior to the shoot, and have your equipment in place and ready to use before the best light appears. Of course, it is not always feasible to limit your shooting to such a narrow time frame. If you are taking photos during the day, there are several pointers to remember for maximizing the available light. Try to keep the sun either behind you or at your side. If you shoot directly into the sun, you probably will blow out your highlights--meaning the lightest areas in the photo will have no value--and your colors will appear washed out. Shooting on cloudy days also can result in soft, lovely colors.

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      A shallow depth of field will blur out a busy background.child image by saied shahinkiya from Fotolia.com

      Employ depth of field, depending on your image goals. Depth of field is defined as the area of a photo in sharp focus. If you are shooting a landscape, you are more likely to strive for great depth of field with everything from foreground to background being in focus. To achieve this, you will need to shoot with a small f-stop or shutter opening. Small f-stops include f16, f22, f25, etc. If, however, you are shooting a portrait and the background is busy and distracting, your goal will be to shoot with a very shallow depth of field to blur out the background. To achieve this, you will need to shoot with a large f-stop. Large f-stops include f2, f2.8, f3.5, etc.

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      Using a slow shutter speed can capture motion in an image.bike race image by jeancliclac from Fotolia.com

      Master other elements affecting photo quality. Shutter speed can be set to either stop motion or capture movement. If taking sports photos, you most likely will choose to shoot with a fast shutter speed in order to avoid motion blur. If, however, you are photographing a race car, you might select to use a slow shutter speed to convey the velocity of the vehicle. White balance is set depending on the available lighting conditions. Rather than relying on the auto-white balance where the camera determines the setting, you can choose a white balance for sun, shade, clouds, flash, incandescent light, etc. You can adjust your exposure to attain a full tonal range. If you have blown out your highlights--as mentioned in Step 3--you can underexpose your shot to offset the overly bright areas. Conversely, you can overexpose to brighten up an unnaturally dark shot. The procedure for controlling image exposure varies from camera to camera. Consult your camera manual for specifics.

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