Photo Tips & Tricks

how to get started taking pictures on a DSLR camera.

it is really simple.
the first step is to ignore all the funny user presets.
you should start by shooting on the “P” setting, this is kind of automatic, but adjustable.

I advise you to shoot everything in RAW format. if you shoot in jpg you let your camera photoshop your raw image into jpg. the problem with this is that it will process things that are hard to reverse. RAW gives you more colour options and headroom for exposure.
also if you shoot RAW, you don’t have to bother with all kinds of camera settings like contrast, saturation, brightness, etc. these are all there for the jpg conversion, so it makes it easier to “get to know” the camera.

the one thing I would like to urge you to do is to take test shots on the different ISO settings, both in dark places and in sunlight to see when the digital noise becomes unbearable for you. then later you can decide when you want to use the other settings.

I use “M” for concert photography or clones.
I use “S” when I want to get rid of, or add motion blur
I use “Av” to get rid of, or accentuate “bokeh”/D.O.F.

I usually use the grid exposure metering, I use spot metering if I take pictures of high contrast situations (concerts) and I want the exposure to be right on my focus point alone, and not the whole picture.

for raw processing I use Adobe Lightroom.


the 3 steps to taking a better photograph:

these are the 3 golden rules, but remember: these rules are there to be broken. as long as you think about the rules before you take the picture, then at least you will have made a conscious choice about it.

- rule number one (the easiest to break): try not to centre your subject.

you can have objects centred, but try to have the subject just off centre. it often makes am more interesting picture when your eyes have to wonder a bit to get to the subject.

- rule number two: always try to add depth.

the easy one is to use the natural depth of field from a good lens, rendering the background out of focus (bokeh). but often it works even better just to position yourself so you have something on the foreground (and background). I often just place stuff in the foreground to get the depth.

- rule number three: change the perspective.

this rule has a lot of ways how you can implement it.
what I mean with it is that you should try not to face your subject face on at eye-height. a simple trick is to kneel down, get close to a wall, or get up high to take a photo. this often already gets a better result.

adding a big empty space above the subject could work, or adding a lot of floor does too.another way to add perspective is to look through your viewfinder and find those straight lines that are (slightly) diagonal in your frame, and angle the camera in such a way that they then line up parallel with a frame border.


there are two addition rules/tips that I came up with later.

- extra tip:

try not to crop your picture in editing software. make your decision when you take your picture. if you want to crop, just zoom in or move closer. but don’t just think you’ll do that later.
first of all this will keep your final picture at the full pixel-rate. second of all this will force you to make a more conscious decision about a shot.
if you HAVE TO crop it, try cropping all your picture in the same ratio, it will make a collection look more together, adding strength to all of the other photos too. keep at least one of the sides as long as the original was.
when I was shooting with a cheaper point&shoot camera, I got into the habit of cropping every picture to the 2:3 format, because this is the ratio used by SLR cameras. it really made a difference!

- extra tip number two:

if on your frame you have room to spare, try to take your picture in such a way that there are things happening all along the long side of the photo. leaving the empty spaces on the short side makes the viewer look more at the photo as a story because it takes more effort to follow everything that is going on.