There are plenty of tools that a budding or professional photographer can use to take a nice photograph but it takes more than good gear to achieve it. Most techniques are simple to use and apply; we just have to seek them out. An important aspect of photography involves training the eye and mind to look for art in any environment and know how to perfectly capture it. During my day I see photographs everywhere!
Rules don’t apply when you have spotted a perfect image that almost comes as an instinct.
“In photography, visual organisation can stem only from a developed instinct.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
Cartier-Bresson, a well renowned photographer, has taken most of his best photographs spontaneously. He is famous for his perfectly arranged compositions that create a perfectly balanced image. His approach to photography is quite brave since he breaks the normal guidelines in photography. Think less and trust your eyes when you find something that looks right. Don’t overthink those rules and guidelines, they might come in handy someday but they’re just tools to guide your natural eye. Rules were made to be broken, especially when it comes to photography.
Don’t leave too much empty space in a scene. Fill the entire frame to avoid such a compositional (did I just make this word up?) mistake. Zoom in or get closer to the subject to capture the most important elements. Having too much empty space can make the subject appear smaller and boring. In the Photo here of Luna Park in Sydney, I zoomed in so close that unless you knew Sydney well you would struggle to know exactly where this is. On a black night with all this colour going on during the Vivid Sydney festival I wanted to capture the vibrance of Luna Park balanced with the temporarily lit up Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
Cropping is probably everyone’s favorite tool, it comes in handy when you review your photos and realize that you’re not satisfied with the outcome. This should be done correctly to help you achieve the desired look since cropping may make or break the original photos. When using my D800, this has become a real easy way to fix a poor composition (it’s allowed me to be a little lazy really) – The Nikon D800 has a 36mp sensor, so I can crop a fair bit of the original image and still have a lot to play with.
You can improve the overall of a photo with proper lighting. This can make a big difference if you are shooting outdoors. Keep in mind how you create your photos in relation to the lighting to put the finishing touches on it. The image below is the dome on top of the war memorial in Canberra and was backlit with the outside sun. I am a fan of using the natural light to enhance an image.
Backgrounds are just as important as the subject. You can control the composition of a photo by giving balance to the subject and its background. If you wish to hide a background a wide lens aperture and a longer focal length can help throw the background out of focus to bring more attention to the subject and less on the surroundings. You can see in this photo of fungi how I have blurred out the background to really make it stand out from the background, I also placed the green moss behind the fungi as it was a great contrast and really enhanced the composition.
A curve could add certain softness to an image and make it seem more inviting. When done correctly it allures the eye of the viewer to examine the details carefully.
The good use of colour is very important in photo composition. This is essential to make viewers want to take a second look at your photo. It can tell a story by itself.
I challenge you to head out with your camera this weekend and try using these 7 composition tips to help you take your photography to the next level!
Thanks for all the great feedback in regards to my new show ‘Ask Ben’ – I really enjoy sharing my knowledge with you! In episode 2 of ‘Ask Ben’ I answer a question about Graduated filters, my favourite photographer and the photographer that has influenced my work the most… enjoy!
Today I combined a couple of my passions, I jumped in my plane, a Beechcraft Bonanza and flew out to Cowra with some friends, and thanks to the generosity of Lyn from the local flying club, she lent us her car and we headed out in search of some Canola fields to photograph.
I have had mixed results with the Panoramic mode of the Fuji X-T1, I find the quicker I sweep for the photo the better it works out…
Weekend photography is a great way for you to improve your photography skills and have fun at the same time. It’s a great way for you to try and experiment new ideas and explore your creative side. Living a busy life can be dull and monotonous. Step outside your desk and your usual routine to try out these 5 creative weekend photography projects that I have compiled for you. You can simply do this at home or by going for a walk in the park
Taking self-portraits can be ideal if you would like to test out your skills independently. You can do this alone at home or even outside. You’re going to need a tripod then you can start shooting with your camera. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your lighting, angles and emotions. Use both auto and manual focus when shooting to help you and adjust things later on. When shooting self-portraits it is a good idea to set the timer, adjust your camera settings to take multiple shots even if all you need is one good photo.
Urban Exploration Photography or also known as Urbanex is the art of finding a subject as you explore the city; it may be an old abandoned building, street vendors, pedestrians and architectural buildings. Cities offer a wide range of fascinating photography subject. You can do this with a friend to keep you company and make shooting more fun and less dangerous as you brave the streets of the city. Find a suitable location where you can choose from different subjects. Make sure that you are familiar with the environment and feel safe walking around. It is best if you can start early in the morning while the city looks so peaceful until it gets crowded later on the day.
Street photography can be really exciting and using strangers as subjects is perhaps a little scary sometimes. A stranger might not feel comfortable with you taking their photos. It would be nice if you can shoot them candid and just let them know that you need to take photos to build your portfolio.
If taking candid photos isn’t enough for you, try to walk up to strangers and ask permission of you can take their photo. Don’t be afraid to walk up to your subject if you find them interesting enough to take their photograph.
Head somewhere that would make a nice Panoramic Image. Set your camera in Portrait mode on your tripod and shoot several images from left to right, making sure you overlap each image by at least a third to make it easy to stitch them together later, of course, If your camera has panorama mode then use it.
Panoramas can create some inspiring photos that you could frame and hang in your walls. It provides you to view an image on a much wider angle which is great for landscape photos. You can shoot 2-3 images then merge these photos to create a panoramic shot. Learning panorama photography is simple and fascinating.
If you have a Macro lens then this is a fun way to spend a weekend, you can even play with macro photography in your own kitchen by taking photos of your utensils, a coffee bean, grains of sugar and list goes on! A great alternative to a macro lens is extension tubes, these can be a cheap way to get into macro photography.
Welcome to my brand new show, Ask Ben. This is the show where you get to ask any question you like and I will try and answer them!
I get asked a lot of great questions, and I do my best to personally answer each and every one of them. What I find, is quite often I will get the same questions asked by more than one person, or, I know that more than one person could benefit by hearing the info, so I decided to start the ‘Ask Ben’ Show!
The show will air weekly and will feature your questions. All you have to do is ask… anything!
I wrapped the legs of my gorillapod around the handrail of my balcony and set the GoPro up to take a photo every 5 seconds and just left it. I then used Lightroom to create the time-lapse. I will do a tutorial some time in the future to share how to create a time lapse in Lightroom. Not many people realise you can!
In this century, when everything is going digital, and photography is climbing new peaks every day, if you are crazy about catching every moment of your life with a DSLR Camera, well there’s nothing wrong with that either. The reason may be anything, you have got bored with your old “point and shoot”, or just an idea of surprising your loved ones on their upcoming birthday or may be some other reason that has prompted to shop for your first DSLR Camera.
Before you involve yourself deeper in that same old age dilemma; to go for canon or Nikon; which usually haunts most DSLR buyers, I will recommend you to pay a visit to the nearest bricks and mortar store, take it in your hands, and see how it feels. Hold all of them one by one, Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus or Pentax. Doing this will give you a bit of a feel for each DSLR.
Megapixles can be a matter of great discussion. But when you don’t feel good while holding your DSLR in your hands then what use is it to you; you may not even like to carry it around if it is too big. Some online reviews may have named it as the ‘wonder camera’ just because of its features, something that you simply can’t afford to miss according to them!
But if you don’t use it then it’s a criminal waste of money. What you should look for is something that you’re comfortable with, forget the reviews and the hearsay, every DSLR you buy these days is a great camera, it will do everything and more than you need, especially if it your first DSLR.
Second aspect you need to think about is the navigation part of your DSLR menus. Different brands/models have different ways of accessing the features. Navigation may be fairly easy or it can be a puzzling and frustrating experience. Nikon’s menu, I am quite used to it and I feel comfortable with, on the other hand I find Sony’s to be a lot more confusing and a steeper learning curve. Usually the higher spec DSLR’s will have more of the features accessible with buttons and dials, as entry level DSLR’s make it a little more difficult to access some of the more common needed features such as changing ISO or White Balance.
Of course, you need to look for a DSLR in your price range, there are many options that range from hundreds of dollars to thousands. Don’t be fooled into buying the latest or most expensive. For your first DSLR I would suggest looking at buying a kit, most manufacturers have a kit that will include the camera body and a couple of lenses too.
The best tip I can give you, buy the same brand as your friend or family already own. They will become your lifeline as you’re on your learning curve, if you have someone close to you that already owns a Nikon, then they will more than likely know their way around the menus etc and will be able to help you… PLUS… if you ask really nicely, they might lend you their lenses and accessories to try.
Whilst I was on a conference in the Bahamas I brought along my Fuji X-T1, it’s really light and easy to travel with and is really starting to win me over. When travelling it’s much easier if you can leave all the heavy lenses and camera bodies behind but in the past it’s come at a huge cost in image quality, with today’s Mirrorless camera technology it’s making cameras smaller, lenses smaller and price tags smaller. If you haven’t considered a mirrorless camera for yourself then maybe you should take a look, I hear the main objection is they’re too small and don’t look professional, and I don’t know if you’re trying to look like a professional photographer or take photos like a professional photographer, the Fuji X-T1 Will definitely help you with the second one. I really think that doesn’t matter and in fact unless you’re printing in a fashion magazine or gigantic billboards any camera will do. Let’s face it, most of us simply reduce the image size and post online anyway.
The photo below was taken in the breezeway at the Cove Atlantis, I really liked all the symmetrical Lines, the lights and the grand feeling that they have achieved with all the lighting and timber. This image is a combination of several exposures digitally blended using Photoshop. It was also quite busy so I used a longer shutter speed on most of the images to make all the people disappear, you should try it, it’s a lot of fun, go somewhere at night that’s busy, then open your shutter for 30 seconds and watch everyone disappear.
I was asked by one of my followers on Facebook to explain the settings I used to capture the image on the right so I thought it was a good idea to put together a video that will show you how to photograph waterfalls.
Waterfalls are fantastic to Photograph and with a little bit of knowledge and some practise you too can get waterfall shots with the ‘dreamy’ silky water effect.
It’s actually not that hard to do. In the video below I share with you my setting for this photo, and several others along with a bunch of tips and tricks, oh, and a couple of traps too!
Every year, I go to Fiji for my family vacation and you would think by now I would be use to the ‘condensation phenomena’ that comes with having camera gear in a cold air-conditioned room straight out into a humid and warm environment. It always takes one morning to be reminded… Luckily, my eyes don’t fog up and I still get to witness a beautiful sunrise.
I was still able to get the following shots, but to be honest, I missed the opportunity to shoot the best light because I was wanting for my gear to de-fog itself. The best way to combat this is to allow extra time, or, if you can, leave your gear outside of the air-conditioning (not always easy).