Photograph better. Trigger amazement with your own photos. This is the goal of many amateur photographers. In this article I will show you how to take photos where even "non-photographers" realize that they could not have done it that way themselves.
How did the idea for this article come about? A few days ago I had a new photo assignment. Food photography in an inn was on the agenda. And shots of the house inside and outside. Something I have done several times before and I really enjoy it.
One of the challenges with these types of assignments is always to make something extraordinary photographically out of normal food and a normal guest room.
Food photography with a wide-angle lens. One of the results from this shoot for a client.
There were already photos on the website, especially of the premises. So there was something like a measuring stick. My photos had to get better.
I did some thinking before the shoot and one important question came up for me. How do I shoot photos where the customer says afterwards: "I would never have done that myself"?? Or: "Wow, how did he do that??"
I came up with a few ideas and this article is the result of it. Here they are, the 7 ways to take amazingly good photos.
Beforehand: The following photo tips and tricks are less intended for portraits, but more for product photography, food, landscapes, etc.
#1: Choose exciting perspectives
People who have never studied photography in depth shoot their photos almost exclusively standing up whether they are photographing children, landscapes or buildings. Not a recipe for amazing photos.
For me, trying out different perspectives is therefore a basic recipe for better photos. Especially extremes work wonderfully. So I definitely lie on the floor and shoot from a frog’s perspective or stand on a chair and take aim at food from above. The result is photos that show perhaps everyday subjects in a way that most people never see them.
Let the amazement begin&
#2: Overcoming technical hurdles with HDR
I like to use HDR (High Dynamic Range) when difficult lighting situations are present. Especially when the range of contrast in the frame becomes so great that one exposure inevitably produces areas that are too dark or overexposed. It just doesn’t look good when the windows are totally overexposed in an indoor shot. Combining multiple shots makes it possible to get difficult lighting situations on the image sensor as desired.
An image stitched from 3 separate exposures. The rule of thirds comes into play when dividing the sky, water, meadow/foreground.
#3: A solid composition
Rule of thirds, golden ratio and what they are all called. A good composition is essential to produce a photo and not a snapshot.
These rules make sense. Positioning the subject off-center in the golden ratio or on the third lines (see photo below this paragraph). Other, interesting tools for amazing photos are diagonals. Such as well-used diagonals like in the first photo of this article.
Especially for commissioned work, in addition to following and breaking generally accepted design rules, another factor is important: clarify before the shoot what the photos will be used for. Especially when used on the web or in print products it can happen that a certain aspect ratio is given by the layout. Stupid if you’re a portrait photographer and shoot everything that way. And afterwards it turns out that the footage should be used as a horizontal teaser image on the website.
Good composition starts with the subject itself. If you research the subject carefully, looking at it from all sides and perspectives, you will perceive it very differently than the inexperienced snapshot photographer. This will give you the opportunity to get that particular view of the subject on your image as well. The result is an amazing photo.
For me, composition also means controlling exactly what I am photographing. A hair on the food, the tripod or the photo backpack in the background, in portraits unwanted wrinkles in the clothes or uncontrollably flying strands of hair and and and. If you take pictures of what is in front of the camera without thinking, you will regularly experience unpleasant surprises. Long Photoshop sessions are the price the photographer pays for it. I have also paid him a few times&
Positioning the subject off center is a proven concept for a harmonious yet interesting image composition. The lines in the picture show the rule of thirds.
#4: Playing with the light
The first thought on a tip about light may be that we are talking about complicated light setups here. This is one way. Enfessselt flash gives you the freedom to create your own lighting reality. To be able to realize your ideas really well, however, this technique requires some practice. More about Unleashed Flash.
More importantly, take a look at what constitutes "beautiful" natural light and how you find it. Contrary to popular belief that the sun should always be behind the photographer when shooting outdoors, it is precisely photos with some backlighting that become most interesting.
Besides the direction of the light, the brightness of the light is also relevant. Dark and bright areas in the picture direct the viewer’s gaze in a similar way to sharpness and blur. Attention is usually first where the brightest area is in the picture. In general, there should be enough brightness in all areas of the image so that there are no black, underexposed areas without drawing.
Light can be either hard or soft. Hard light comes from a very small light source and casts hard shadows. Soft light comes from a large light source and casts few if any shadows. Depending on the desired effect, the light source should be chosen.
Incredibly beautiful backlit deciduous trees in autumn. The colorful leaves literally glow and give the image a strong expression. If the sun would be behind the photographer we would have a rather boring photo compared to this result.
#5: Use extreme focal lengths
A good wide-angle lens helps you to photograph your subject in an unusual way.
Technology clearly plays a role here. Extreme wide angle lenses create an image effect that is quite different from human perception. This alone will attract a certain amount of attention with these photos.
A normal compact camera doesn’t have a 16mm wide angle, neither does the kit lens of an entry-level DSLR.
If you use your focal length correctly AND go to an extreme that normal amateur photographers don’t usually use, you will get results that will amaze the viewer.
By the way, I have made the experience that a photo with an extreme wide-angle focal length looks much more extraordinary than a photo with a long telephoto focal length. Although, of course, a strong telephoto lens allows photos that are impossible with the kit lens.
#6: Sharp or blurry?
The play with blur is charming and makes an impression. Also because a beautiful bokeh is not feasible with a compact camera for the snapshot photographer.
A very sharp picture of a frog. It was taken with a 400mm focal length and afterwards still digitally sharpened. A photo that is difficult to impossible to realize for compact photographers.
Sharpness and blur direct the viewer’s gaze. The main subject should be photographed sharpest, because the eye tends to want to look at those sharp areas first. Blurring helps to distinguish between important and unimportant tissue. An image with many individual elements all in very sharp focus will quickly look cluttered and the eye won’t know where to look.
Equally amazing is the "astonishment" effect in a crisp photo where the focus is exactly where it should be. The secret to success for super-sharp photos: very precise use of autofocus, use of a tripod and – also very important – digital sharpening for the respective output medium.
#7: Colors – saturation and white balance
Colors create mood in the picture. No matter whether the colors are reproduced exactly 1:1 or are altered by filters or digitally. Used consciously, colors can turn a photo into something very special.
You can take artistic liberty and interpret the colors very freely or depict the colors as they are. Naturalistic rendering has to be learned. When artificial light in a wide variety of colors and natural light come together in a scene, it gets exciting.
A photo becomes particularly amazing when the colors fit together harmoniously, when there is sufficient contrast and when the colors support the desired message. As a rule, I want to depict food in a very appetizing, healthy or spicy way. Colors play an important role.
Or no colors at all? Black-and-white photography still has its appeal and gives an exclusive, artistic impression More on black-and-white photography.
The ideas and techniques for amazing photos described here are meant to encourage you to try different things and constantly expand your photographic bag of tricks. It is really worth it!
This list can certainly be extended by a lot more. Have you found a trick that makes your photos "different" and particularly interesting? Show your work on the BF Facebook page!