Today’s Photo Tip Of The Week is part of a five-tip series. The series is spread out over a five-week period where I take you on an alphabetical journey to cover a magnitude of photographic instruction as I explore numerous photo concepts from A to Z. You’re currently reading tip number four. Check out the three previous week’s tips where we covered letters A to E, F to J and K to O for lots of great information, and be sure to stay tuned for next week’s final installment. While every letter of the alphabet isn’t covered, many key photo topics will be explored based on the letter with which they start. Enjoy the journey down the alphabetical trail to garner photo knowledge and wisdom.
P is for Polarizer: A polarizer has many uses. One should be carried in every photographer’s camera bag. Its most common use is to saturate a blue sky when positioned 90 degrees from the sun. When positioned as such, the sky takes on a darker and more saturated blue. It also helps cut through haze, which provides greater contrast. A polarizer also helps remove reflections. If your subject is a building and the windows reflect bright distractions, depending on the angle at which you make the image, the annoying reflection can be removed. Additionally, a polarizer helps remove glare. If you’re in a situation where water lays on the surface of your subject, spin the polarizer to allow more saturated color to come through. Because the reflective glare is removed, the subject takes on greater vibrancy.
Q is for Quality, not Quantity: I have a number of taglines I use in my workshops, one of which is Edit Before Pressing The Shutter. I tell my participants it’s not about how many photos you go home with, it’s about how many good ones you capture. Most of the time it’s more productive to slow down and absorb the scene before you press the shutter. Carefully orchestrate a composition and choose the proper shutter/aperture combination to get the result you desire. Avoid the machine gun method of image capture—rather than run around like a chicken without a head firing off 100 pictures and hoping for the best, watch how the light falls on your subject, wait for a great expression, contemplate using a filter that may enhance the image and walk around the subject constantly looking for a better angle. Do all this before pressing the shutter or as I say, Edit Before Pressing the Shutter.
R is for RAW: Simply stated, if you want to get the most information out of all your digital files, capture them using the RAW format. Will you spend more time processing your photos? Yes! Will your files use up more hard drive space? Yes! Will your buffer fill faster? Yes! While some say these aspects are arguments against the use of RAW, I strongly disagree. That being said, if all you do is make snapshots and the files aren’t important, then I support your use of jpg. BUT, if the photos are important, RAW is the way to go. White balance can be adjusted without any harm to the file, there’s less compression of pixels so you retain more information and if you have to do extensive post processing, the extra number of pixels are of value. The pixel quality is far superior so you can crop away part of the file and still have a high-quality photo. RAW rules!
S is for Shoot: Shoot, shoot some more, and then go out and shoot some more. I’m not referring to the number of images you make during a session. I’m referring to the frequency with which you go into the field. The more often you pick up a camera, the more familiar you become with its features. The more familiar you are with your camera, the faster you react to changing light, moving subjects, capturing a fleeting smile or grabbing that once-in-a-lifetime image. If drama unfolds and you forget how to change shooting modes, autofocus modes, ISO or other aspect of how the camera works, chances are you’ll miss the shot. Just like any other electronic tool, the more you use it, the more accustomed you become, which allows you to work more efficiently.
T is for Tripod: A tripod is your best friend that you hate to lug around. Do you want sharp photos that show no camera shake? Then you need a tripod. Do you require extreme depth of field? You need a tripod since the small aperture to attain the necessary depth of field requires a slow shutter speed. Do you want to make great images in low light? A tripod will help ensure the images are sharp. Do you want to take the time to scrutinize a composition? Place the camera on a tripod and look at every square millimeter in the viewfinder to find distractions you may not otherwise see. Then look at the LCD of the image you just made. If it needs tweaking, simply adjust the tripod. Enough said—use a tripod!
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