My main shooter for the past 3 years has been the Nikon D5300. It has served me incredibly well and continues to do so. I still have much to learn, but here are a few tips and techniques I’ve learned along the way.
1. Learn the basics of composition
It should be one of the first things you learn well enough so that it’s second nature. It will allow you to compose your photos in interesting ways in order to better convey the message or story you want to get across.
Learn the rules and know when to break them.
Rule of thirds – The horizontal and vertical lines can provide some order to the chaos and help emphasize your subject. Using this as a guideline can make the photo seem more interesting and better. There may have been times where you look at a photo and were amazed by the way it looked but you couldn’t really describe it. These compositional rules are usually picked up by the subconscious which can make a photo look more appealing.
Leading lines – They can help guide the eye make the photo seem more pleasing. A leading line is almost anything. A road or river. The ridge of a dune. The stem of a flower.
Symmetry – One of my favourites. I try to keep things clean and simple because I find less is more, and it’s a great creative challenge. Symmetry is a great tool to achieve a clean and pleasant look.
2. Shoot through something
It can make your photo look more “professional” and give a look of you “sort of know what you’re doing.” You can achieve this by adjusting your aperture to the lowest setting, which is f/3.5 on a standard kit lens. If you want more blur, consider buying a 35mm f/1.8, which is what I use most of the time. Then either deliberately shoot through something such as leaves or flowers, or make sure there’s something close to your lens while you shoot past or over it.
3. Glue your camera to your hand
If you want to get better at your craft, keep doing it. As much as you possibly can. Shoot all the time. No challenge should be too big or too small. Figure it out as you go along. Build your creative experience. In the outdoors, certain opportunities only happen once. You want to be able to quickly capture it and then enjoy the moment.
4. Don’t disregard bad weather
Everyone is out on a beautiful sunny day taking photos. You want to take the photos everyone else is too lazy or scared to take. You want to capture unique moments in nature, which can sometimes mean getting out of your comfort zone, and you might discover that it was one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. A cloudy or rainy day can make incredible moody, mysterious or dramatic photos. I love a few clouds that are floating around on top of a mountain.
5. Up, down, left, right, sideways
Instead of just moving the camera lower or higher, consider crouching down yourself and looking for a better angle. Look up and see what’s above you. Clouds? Trees? Birds?
One of my favourites – turn around and look behind you. Maybe there’s a breathtaking shot that’s been waiting for you all this time.
The benefit of shooting with a prime lens is that it doesn’t zoom. It’s a fixed 35mm f/1.8. This means I need to physically move around when I want to capture something, which encourages me to be more creative and less lazy.
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