Just a quick video with some great travel photo tips!
Camera Shake, a leading cause of bad photos
Camera shake is like the gingivitis of photography. When you’re dealing with camera shake you’re dealing with images that are not in focus or are totally blurry. Most often with images that suffer from Camera Shake the image is just slightly out of focus.
Example of camera shake:
(photo by itchys)
Notice how the image is just barely out of focus but it’s far enough out to ruin the image. The horror!
Why does camera shake happen?
When you take a photo there is a moment when the shutter is open and light hits your camera’s sensor or film. If the shutter is open for a long time and you move your camera while it’s open you will most likely get a blurry photo. While the shutter is open and you are holding the camera tiny movements in your hands and arms will make your image slightly blurry. In photography the shutter is very very fast so a long time in this context could even be less than a second.
There are a whole host of ways to avoid camera shake. Here are a few:
One method would be to shoot at a faster shutter speed. In some cases to achieve these higher shutter speeds you will have to shoot higher ISOs
Shoot at Higher ISOs
Obviously the side effect of this is that you’ll get more noise and grain in your image but I’ll take a noisy image that’s in focus over a blurry image any day of the week.
Use a Better Lens
Another option would be to shoot with a faster lens. If you shoot with a better lens you can get away with more. So if all things are equal you can capture more light with a better lens. As such you’ll have less camera shake.
Get a Better Camera
A camera with a high quality imaging sensor can almost always shoot sharper images in lower light. Before anything else gets written here I should note that ‘getting a better camera’ should almost NEVER be a solution to a problem in photography. I just needed something to fill out this list! In all seriousness though a better camera will help in this situation so get yourself a better camera.
Use A Tripod!
The most obvious solution is to just use a damn tripod! As a general rule you almost always get sharper images when you use a tripod. The tripod is a stable platform for your camera and it does not move and it will eliminate camera shake. Don’t have a tripod? Go buy a tripod.
Hold The Camera Steadier
When you don’t have a tripod or can’t use one just take a moment and control your breathing and concentrate on being still. Take a deep breath or two. Compose yourself if you will.
Make a Tripod
You don’t have to carry around your bulky tripod. You can just make your own tripod out of string!
Hold the Barrel
Support your camera by holding the barrel of your lens and putting your elbow on something like your knee or something solid.
Bring Your Elbows In
Bring your elbows in and rest them on your stomach/chest. That way you’ll be making a tripod between your two hands and your eye pressed against the viewfinder.
Make it Art!
Just like most artefacts and technical screw ups in photography you can make it into an art form. People have taken this artifact of photography and produced some very interesting images. It’s like the rule of thirds, you should really learn it before you start to break it as a rule.
Examples of camera shake (or motion blur) being used creatively:
photo by unukorno
photo by ninette_luz
To learn how to use motion and the blur effect creatively take a look at our article: How To Show Motion in Photography By Panning
Put Your Camera on a Stable Surface
You can really get away with anything that is stable and doesn’t move. Just be careful because cameras have been known to fall of things you might have thought we’re stable.
Lean On Me. And I’ll be your friend
Just like Bill Withers suggests, just lean on something. If there is a post or a tree or something right at the position you want to shoot from then lean on it. This essentially removes a great deal of the movement that is occurring in your body all the time
Geting closer to your subject means you won’t have to zoom as much. The less you have to use your zoom, the less your lens will shake.
Stop Drop and Shoot!
If you can lie on the ground. The all but eliminates the movement of your body and will result in sharper images.
A Simple Rule
As a really rough mental guideline ensure that your shutter speed is never slower than half the focal lenght of your zoom lens. So if you’re shooting with a 300mm lens you don’t really want your shutter speed to drop below 150/sec. This is an very very rough tool but it helps you keep camera shake in mind.
Now get out there and shoot some razor sharp images.
Let’s set the record straight.
There is no best way to learn photography. There are plenty of ways to learn photography and there really is no perfect answer this question. Everyone has their own learning style, as such there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution.
Some people teach themselves, others benefit greatly from a formal education. Others choose to get best of both worlds by learning photography online and teaching themselves.
List of Ways To Learn Photography:
Read some photography books
Learn photography from the masters
Read photography ebooks
Learn with a group of friends
Use Youtube videos
Attend university and study photography
Go to a local college
Go to a local photography course
Take a one day course
Learn from blogs and photo sites
Learn from an online photography course
Become active on a photography forum
Simple trial and error
Just shoot lots of photographs
Attend weekend courses
The list could go on and on. The main thing is that nobody can tell you what is best for you!
What you should really be asking:
If you want to learn photography, ask yourself what is the most fun you’ve had learning something? And then try to replicate that. When something is fun people tend to learn quickly. Also as yourself what format do you prefer when learning? Some people prefer the written word and others are more visual. Then choose your method(s) accordingly. A hybrid approach is really great. Just combine a few theoretical and practical approaches and you’ll be all set.
Essential To Learning Photography:
This really applies to anything you want to get good at but it really works with photography.
- Have fun
- Practice hard
Without the hard work of practice and the fun of learning you won’t get anywhere.
Photography is a Life-long Journey:
One of the most fascinating aspects of photography is that you really never stop learning. Not only does the art form evolve over time but you get older and you attain a different perspective. Your early photos will be embarrassingly bad but they may be more interesting in a different context. What’s more, the technology of photography changes regularly as well. There is always something new to learn! How great is that?!
“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”
- Robert Capa
If there is anything you can do to dramatically improve your photography immediately, it’s get close, and then get even closer.
Here is a example of something I witnessed at the top of Uluru in Australia. The man below thinks he is going to shoot a good photo and he is trying his best. In fact this is how close the average person gets when taking a photograph like this.
This is how close I get when taking a photograph:
It’s so easy to get close and it results in vastly superior photographs almost every single time. Also take special note here that the best way to get close is by moving your feet. If that doesn’t work only then do you use your telephoto lens. Got it?! Good!
Just look at the photos below and you’ll see how different the same subject can be.
photo by rankingfuuta
photo by mjmerry
So get out there and get close!
Want to learn more simple ways to improve your images? We have all kinds of tips and tricks like this in our photography course.
(Photographer unknown. If you know who took this get in touch so we can give credit where it’s due!)
This photograph of two men standing at the bottom of a very large ship in a dry dock is a really stunning example of scale in photography. Using scale in photography is very important because as humans our minds figure out the size of our surrounding world in various ways. Of course your brain knows the size of a human and in this case that means that is one HUGE ship!
Scale gives the person looking at your photograph a frame of reference. Scale is often an under-utilized technique in photography. In fact many beginners in photography will even go so far as to remove people from a landscape photo thinking people in the image detract from the view. When in fact having people in your landscape photos can often be great! For example look at how much better this image is because there is a person in the foreground:
photo by steved
Be aware your brain can and will play tricks on you:
In fact this caused problems for astronauts on the moon! Here on Earth, distant objects are obscured by the atmosphere, and we use that to mentally estimate distances. That makes things a little tricky on the moon because there is no air! An object can be very far away on the Moon and still razor sharp to the eye. You can’t tell if a boulder is a meter across and 50 meters away, or 10 meters across and 10 miles away!
To give you an example this watch the rock the start of this video. Try to guess the size of the rock at the start of the video. Then watch until the end and see if your original guess was indeed correct.
Scale is a great technique to improve your images and shouldn’t be overlooked. You can even have fun with it like this. As humans we need scaled to know how large and small the surround world is. In photography it helps us to enjoy the image instead of adding mental work to figure out the size of various elements.
Here is another video about scale (and polarizing filters)
Now go forth and take some great photographs with scale!
photo by ClickFlashPhotos
This list of photography themes is super hand for those of you feeling like there is nothing to photograph. Photography themes are a great way to organize your photography. Often students say their town is boring or there is nothing to shoot. There is ALWAYS something to photograph!
Just take a look at this list of themes and items that are interesting to shoot. It should get you started.
If you’re wondering why using themes in photography is useful read this.
We will update this list as we come up with new ideas.
- Abandoned Buildings
- Back Alleys
- Bad Weather
- Bald Heads
- Bare Feet
- Bicycle Parts
- Black and White
- Broken Glass
- Butterflies / Bees
- Car Details
- Catching People Unaware
- Church Windows
- City Hall
- City Skylines
- City Street Scenes
- Covered Bridges
- Custom Cars
- Disappearing Professions
- Disappearing Technologies
- Doom and gloom
- Door Knobs
- Dots / Dashes / Diagonals
- Emergency Situations
- Enthusiasm / eager
- Environmental Trash
- Eye Glasses
- Farm Animals
- Fetes & Festivals
- Fire Engines
- Fireworks / Fire
- Flower Petals
- Forms in Nature
- Geriatric (older folks)
- H Hands
- Hot Rod Cars
- Indian Ruins
- Indigenous Things Or People
- Isolated Objects
- Junk Yards
- Kin or Families
- Machine Parts
- Marine life
- Mass flowers
- Movie Theater Marquees
- Neon Signs
- Night lights
- Odd Couples
- Old Everything
- Paper Abstracts
- Parallel Lines
- Peeling Paint
- People At Work
- People Walking Dogs
- Pictures in Pictures
- Piles of Things
- Pink / Purple
- Railroad Cars
- Railroad Tracks
- Red Barns
- Reflections in Glass
- Reflections in Water
- Round Things
- Rows of Things
- Sand dunes
- Sand Patterns
- Sea Shells
- Sleeping Animals
- Sleeping People
- Small Furry Animals
- Smoke Stacks
- Soft Curves
- Spanish Moss
- Steam Railroads
- Still life
- Strange Signs
- String Instruments
- Teddy Bear / toy
- The Local School
- The spot (X marks it, you know)
- Tools of the Trade
- Tree Knots
- Ugly Everything
- Ungulates (hoofed animals, pigs, goats, deer horses)
- Vices or Habits
- Weathered Wood
- Wide Angle Everything
- Zig Zags
How’s that for a list of things to shoot?! Now get out there and take some great photographs!
Everywhere we go it seems like people want to take photos of each other jumping in the air! And why not? It’s great fun and you can get some really fun and energetic photos this way.
Based on the number of people who seem to try to take the same photo over and over it seems people don’t understand how to take photographs this way. There are so many failed attempts that we thought we’d put together some tips on how to take these photos properly.
The closer you are the better your jumping photo will look. The subject will look as though they are much higher in the air and the effect will be more pronounced. In this photo I was using a wide angle lens and I was quite close.
The same applies here, the lower you are the better your jumping photo will look. Again, the subject will look like they are much higher in the air and the overall effect will be more energetic.
Use a flash
If you can, use a flash to help freeze the action. Using the flash adds more light and makes it much easier for your camera to shoot an image that isn’t blurry. If no flash was used in this image it simply would not have worked at all. This photo was taken inside a massive tree.
Learn your camera’s timing
If your camera is not a DSLR there may be a delay between pressing the shutter and when the photo is actually taken. The trick is the learn the delay between when you push the button and when the photo is shot. Most point and shoot cameras have some kind of delay because of their auto-focus system. Once you have this delay mastered your jumping photos will be dramatically improved.
Do the countdown
Tell your subjects that you will countdown from three and say jump in order to get the timing right. So you’d say something like 3,2,1,JUMP! You may have to do this a few times to get the timing right. Interestingly many people say things like “ready? go!” or “ok, JUMP!” which clearly doesn’t work.
Shoot Portrait not Landscape
If you shoot your image in portrait as opposed to landscape you’ll exaggerate the height of the jump. You’ll also have a better chance of catching the action given it’s quite an up and down… Also, be sure to include some of the floor or ground in the image to show more height.
Strike a Pose
Tell the person you’re photography to do a funny ‘move’ or ‘pose’ when they’re in the air. It will make for a more dynamic image.
There are even websites dedicated to jumping photos:
I took all the photos in this post and had lots of fun doing it. We hope you enjoy taking your jumping pictures as well.
The other day I was in a camera shop and overheard a customer talking with a store clerk about the differences between digital cameras and digital SLR cameras. I have both and use both for varying reasons. But it was nevertheless interesting to hear how store employees tried up-selling a digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera over a regular digital camera.
For starters, digital SLR cameras are really starting to become quite the rage. High quality, entry level cameras are now available for less than $1000 and include starter lenses so you can go out and start taking pictures right away.
Buying a new camera is a tough decision. Obviously price plays a big factor as does camera and picture quality.
If you are looking for a good quality SLR camera you can buy a non digital one used for less than $100. The quality will be fantastic but you’ll be shooting film (which is a wonderful world to discover). But you won’t have the obvious digital picture storage benefits of a digital camera. So SLR cameras with the ability to add and detach lenses (wide angle, telephoto etc) are possible on most SLR cameras.
Today, for about $600 and up you can get a digital SLR. The biggest benefit to a digital SLR over other digital cameras is the ability to add and detach lenses. You can buy or often even use lenses from regular SLR cameras. If you’ve been taking pictures for a long time you’ll start to want to experience with different lenses at some point. I remember using a wide-angle lens the first time and remembering how much it changed my perspective of the art. Shooting urban landscapes and nature landscapes became, one again, enjoyable for me and renewed my sense of passion for this art form.
The problem with regular digital cameras is they often don’t have the ability to attach lenses which means you’re stuck with whatever lens is on there. In the world of digital cameras retailers often try to sell their customers on “megapixels” alone. While megapixels can be important, they are far from the most important element of a digital camera. Manual control is much more important. From being able to set your own aperture settings, shutter speed settings and adding or removing lens attachments is much more important.
So here is what I would recommend. If you are just starting out with photography a regular digital camera would be great. You can take over 200 pictures per day and practice the basic rules of composition and framing. You can really focus on the art of photography. These camera’s cost anywhere from $100 – $400 for very powerful cameras with lots of manual control (with the exception of lens changing)
If you are more advanced and want to play with lenses you should consider getting a digital SLR. This will allow you to take many photographs and have the ability to have full manual control of both camera settings and lenses. The downside that these cameras start at about the $600 range, but quickly jump up to over $1000 for entry level cameras.
However, if you just want the manual benefits of the SLR, consider getting a used SLR for the price of a basic digital camera. You will get full manual control and you’ll be able to add lenses. If in the future you upgrade to a digital SLR you could possibly even use any lenses you buy for your regular SLR and use them on your new digital SLR!
I hope this helps with your future purchase decisions.