(I am putting up this post with a disclaimer: I don’t believe you can learn photography in quick short tips as listed here. These `tips’ can at best be viewed as pointers. That’s why I have titled this post -`Maggie Noodle Photography Tips’. A magazine however insisted I write few short tips ( in 900 words) on the various aspects of photography, so here they are for what they are worth.)
Photographing Monuments: Time of the day is of the essence.
Taj Mahal is beautiful but if you photograph it in the middle of the day you will be surprised how stark it looks. The time of the day you photograph a monument will determine how good or bad the monument looks. The best time to shoot monuments is early mornings or late afternoons when the soft golden sunlight provides perfect side-lighting that brings out the best dimension of the monuments. You also get a perfect light and shadow effect. But because the light is soft in the evenings and mornings , the details in the shadow area are visible. However make sure the sun is not directly behind you. That way you would get a somewhat flat lighting. Photograph the monument keeping the sun to either side of the monument.
What is Good Composition?.
Composition, like most things in photography, can either make or break a photograph. There are perhaps more rules for composition than any other aspect of photography. One of the most bandied about is the rule of thirds. It is based on the human tendency to focus on one thirds of the frame. Even the painters use it. Therefore photographers try and keep the most important subject in one thirds of the frame. Use of leading lines –is another rule one can follow to make one’s pictures interesting. The leading lines could be anything – the road markings, railings and even rows of people that lead your eye as it were to the important subject in the frame. While photographing landscapes the general rule is to keep the horizon straight. One can obviously be creative and have a skewered horizon too but its important to know the rules before one breaks them. It’s a bad idea to have the horizon divide the frame in two equal halves. If the sky is more interesting and the land has nothing captivating give more space to the sky and vice-versa.
Shooting in Low- Light conditions
There was a time when the only way to photograph in low-light was either to use a tripod or flash. Now almost all cameras have very sensitive sensors and one can push the ISO’s to almost 1600 without getting the grain or `noise’ as its called in digital jargon. This is not to say that the tripod and the flash have become redundant. One should avoid using the pop-up flash of cameras but off- camera flash or speedlight can be used to get some very creative results. The tripod is good if you want to use the slow shutter to show movement. For example if you want to photograph the traffic movement at night or the movement of the stars.
Tips on Street Photography.
No matter how much you know about photography if you don’t have interpersonal skills it won’t work. Besides your fancy camera you need to be armed with a smile if you want people to open upto you and allow you in their personal spaces. If you show genuine interest in the people whom you are photographing it will eventually show in the photos.
Use a wide angle lens for street photography. That way you can get as much in the frame as you want. Don’t stand on the sidewalks but get close to the subject. The photographs should show your involvement. Street photography is all about capturing the right moment. Anticipate moments that can happen and be ready to capture them.
Some Photography Myths
What Camera to buy?
Before asking which camera you should buy you should have answered this question- Why do you want to buy a camera? There are usually one of the many reasons listed below.
1) You are a serious photography student and you aspire to be a Raghu Rai someday.
2)Your job sucks and you are seriously considering leaving it for photography full time.
3)You are a professional photographer.
4)Photography is your hobby. And its fun to have people comment on good pictures you hope to upload with your DSLR on facebook.
5) You are an amateur photographer with a cushy job you cannot leave but you moonlight as a pro on the weekends taking up small assignments.
If you are in any of the three categories above and have the cash, pick up a full-frame in either Nikon or Canon. In Nikon the cheapest is the Nikon D700. It is arguably the most popular professional camera among pros today.
Canon 5D Mark II is the cheapest of the Canon full-frames. It’s body costs 2800USD ( 1,25000 rupees) and is much lighter than even the handy Nikon D700.
Other Canon full frame model popular with professionals is the Canon 1Ds Mark 11. But it has now been replaced by the 21 megapixels Canon 1Ds Mark 111.
However if you are in the last two categories then you must look at what they call in photography jargon the `prosumer’ market There are a plethora cameras in this segment, some of them cheaper than your Blackberry and iPhone.
The cheapest and the latest Nikon model available today is the Nikon D3100. It costs approx. 650USD (29,000 rupees) with standard zoom.
Next in line are Nikon D5000 and the very popular D90 which both come with video. Nikon D7000 is the choice of the serious amateurs. It comes with all the bells and whistles including the video, the 18-105mm lens and the 16.2 megapixels. Canon has the cheapest DSLR available. The Canon 1000D is only 490 USD (22,000 rupees) with the standard zoom. Canon 1100D is also cheap at 650USD (29,000 rupees) considering it comes with the standard zoom and the video mode.
Canon 7D like Nikons D7000 is the choice of serious amateurs. It comes with the video at approx. 1500 USD (70,000 rupees)body only.
What lens should I buy?
As a beginner the standard lens that comes with the camera is good enough. Its usually the 18-55mm lens and is good for both wide angle shots and the portraits. One could team it up with a medium range zoom. In Nikon one could pick up the cheap and versatile 70-300mm and in Canon one can buy the 100-300mm lens. Should one want to get more experimentative one can try the primes – the 35mm or the 50mm.