Know the Rules

It’s hardly realistic to expect beginner photographers to lug around thick how-to manuals when they are out and about taking pictures. However, that doesn’t mean newbie shutterbugs shouldn’t take time to read at least a few guides to learn basic photo techniques. Many first-time shooters think all that is needed to become a stellar photographer is a camera and a few good subjects, but there’s more to photography than just that. While practice makes perfect, by consulting a photo guidebook, you will be better able to decipher which points you need to fine tune.

Guidebooks highlight the basic rules of photography, such as:

The rule of thirds: In this basic principle photographers are taught to divide an image into thirds both horizontally and vertically. Some newer cameras come with a built-in grid feature; however, if your camera doesn’t have one, then imagine your viewfinder broken into nine equal parts. The goal is to place the most important parts of your subject where the lines intersect on your imaginary grid.

Composition: This technique is mastered by practicing as much as possible. A well composed shot incorporates fresh angles and new perspectives. Learning how to compose a shot properly takes time and experimentation. Don’t be afraid to contort your body to capture a unique angle. So, instead of shooting static shots from eye-level, consider squatting down, climbing a rock or a tree to switch your perspective and snap a boldly composed shot.

Depth of field: Most beginners are too busy focusing on composition and lighting to learn about manipulating the depth of field in shots. Most auto modes will make the needed adjustments. However, once you become more comfortable with your shooting skills you will want to manually adjust the depth of field. Newbies should simply remember that the larger the aperture, the shallower the depth of field. By adjusting the aperture, you can bring attention to a specific part of your photo, such as a flower petal or an insect sitting on a flower.

Related Articles:

A Digital Camera for Serious Shooters

The Difference Between Two Digital Cameras From the Same Company

Small SLRs with a Twist

A Powerful Pocket Camera

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.