Top 10 Tips
from Professional Photographers
Photography has never been more fun! With the automation of today's 35mm
cameras, taking a great picture can be as easy as pointing your camera and
pressing the shutter release.
These 10 simple tips are ones routinely used by professional photographers.
But, the basic "rules" of composition will work just as well for
anybody who wants to take better pictures. While these pointers apply specifically
to adjustable cameras, many can be used with even basic point-and-shoot
Feel free to experiment and try new picture-taking techniques. Should
you ever have any questions, be sure to call our Customer Service Department
We have a full staff of experts and we're here to help!
1. Get Close to Your Subjects...Especially
With "People" Shots
You'll be amazed at how much impact your pictures will gain when you
fill your frame with your primary subjects. By eliminating outside "trivia,"
you'll get much more dramatic, interesting pictures. You'll also minimize
the "red eye" which is often caused when the telephoto setting
on point-and-shoot cameras is used to take flash pictures from too great
2. Use a Faster Shutter Speed
Blurred images are more often the result of camera movement than poor
focus. The trick is to use a high enough shutter speed to stop both camera
motion and your subject's movements.
The rule of thumb is that the minimum shutter speed you
should use is approximately twice the focal length of your lens. Although
this may sound complicated, it's really not. With a 50mm lens, the minimum
speed setting for your adjustable camera would be 1/100th of a second. Since
that speed is not available, use 1/125th of a second. If you have a 200mm
telephoto, double that to 1/400th (or in real camera settings, 1/500th of
a second). For automatic programmable cameras, use shutter priority. If
you can't adjust your camera's speed, simply try to hold your camera as
steady as possible.
3. Use Fill-in
Many 35mm cameras and flash units are now equipped with automatic fill-in
flash. By using this feature, you'll selectively lighten the shadows that
form when you take pictures in bright sunlight. And you'll get more natural-looking
Fill-in flash is especially effective with pictures of people. It's really
very easy to get professional-looking shots. Just turn on the fill-in flash
and your camera will make the necessary computations automatically. (Check
your camera's instruction manual for specifics.)
4. Use Flash
|A lot of people try to take "candid" photos indoors without using a flash. This is usually a big mistake. Color film is balanced for use with either daylight or flash. Shooting without a flash will result in yellowish pictures under incandescent lighting or greenish photos if taken under fluorescent light. Since most flash units are automatic (and often built into thecamera), there's rarely a good reason not to use them for "people" shots. The main exceptions would be when you are beyond the range of your flash, at sporting events, or in theatres (where flash is prohibited).
5. Watch Your Flash Sync Speed
One of the most common mistakes people make is to use a shutter speed
that is higher than their camera's flash synchronization speed. This results
in part of the image being blacked out by the focal plane shutter.
The maximum sync speed your camera can handle will probably be shown
on the camera's shutter speed indicator. Any slower speed may be used. Just
be careful to avoid using speeds below 1/60th of a second because you may
get blurs due to camera movement.
6. The Rule of Thirds
Would you like to win a photo contest and really improve your compositions?
Here's the "trick" that wins more contests than any other:
When you compose your pictures, try to break the visual "elements"
into thirds, either horizontally, vertically or both.
This photograph shows how the rule of thirds works. Notice how the sky
fills the top third of the picture. The mountains take up the center third
and the water the bottom third. The photo also demonstrates the rule horizontally.
The building fills the left third of the photo, with the sailboat filling
the right third.
When you only have two elements (sea and sky, for example), let one
element take up 2/3 of the frame. You'll be amazed at the impact "the
rule of thirds" will bring to your photographs. Can anything this simple
really work? An 8"x12" enlargement of this composition won Dale
and his wife a free Caribbean cruise, compliments of Windstar Cruise
Line's photo contest!
7. Use Lens "Distortion"
Photographs are two-dimensional images that try to approximate a three-dimensional
world. You can give your pictures more depth and impact by using wide angle
lenses that emphasize perspective. Or, you can use telephoto lenses to bring
objects together, minimizing perspective.
||A 24mm wide angle lens gave great depth of field and increased the apparent
size of the statue in the foreground.
A 200mm telephoto lens caused these sailboats to look much
closer together, for a "tighter" composition.
8. Exposure Tricks
You can decrease visible grain and increase the apparent sharpness of
color print films like Kodacolor, Fujicolor, 9100 or 9400 by setting your
camera to overexpose by 1/3 to 1/2 stop. The reason this "trick"
works is that all modern color films have two distinct layers of grains
for each color recording layer - a fairly coarse, but very sensitive
high speed grain and a finer, slow speed grain.
When you overexpose, you activate more of the fine grains which "fill
in" the spaces between the coarser grains. The result is a sharper,
more grain-free picture. Most 35mm SLR cameras have a means of setting an
If you are using a slide film like Ektachrome or Fujichrome, you should not overexpose. Run an exposure test of your camera's metering
system with your favorite "chrome" film. Take a bracketed exposure
series starting with no exposure bias and then underexpose in 1/3 stop increments
(-.3, -.6, -.9, etc.). Examine the resulting slides to see which is best.
9. Try Unusual Lighting Effects
Film records the color of the light that exposes it. That light might
be coming from a subject...or it might be reflected by the subject. Even
though your eye sees artificial light as "white," color film will
see it in very unusual ways. So, "non-standard" lighting can give
you some very dramatic effects.
You'll also get great shots by using the natural light occurring just
after sunrise or before and during sunset. These are the "golden hours."
Take scenics by sunset and you'll understand why the pros call this light
The photograph, shown to the left, takes advantage of two "non-standard"
light sources; the sunset behind the ship and the fluorescent light from
10. Odds and Ends
Smart professionals know you can't take a top quality picture through
a dirty lens. It may seem obvious, but cleaning each of your lenses before
every "shoot" will assure you of the sharpest shots and most saturated
color. We suggest breathing on the lens surface and then using a Kodak lens
cleaning tissue to wipe off the mist.
The Rule of 16 - Here's a good way to check your camera's
meter for accuracy...or make a reasonable guess of exposure in case of battery
failure. The correct exposure for a normal sunlit day will be f/16 with
the shutter speed being approximately equal to the ISO of the film. For
ISO 100 film, for example, the correct setting for average, open sunlight
would be f/16 at 1/125th of a second. For ISO 400 film, you would use f/16
at 1/500th of a second. On the beach, where you have reflected light, you
should close down one stop (or increase the shutter speed). On a cloudy
day, open up a stop or two.
Which Film Should You Use?
Choose film with the right speed for your subject. For general photography,
ISO 100 or 200 film is ideal. If you're shooting under low light or trying
to record action, ISO 400 is usually the best choice.
People often choose the faster, ISO 400 emulsions so they can use higher
shutter speeds for sharper pictures. The 400 speed films are also great
for point-and-shoot cameras.
We can process any brand of film. Kodak, Fuji and Agfa
all make outstanding films. Each has its own distinctive qualities. Our
equipment is balanced to give the best possible quality from every film.
Which brand is best? We like Kodak films for their natural color rendition.
For a combination of beautiful color and low price, our 9100
and 9400 are excellent choices. Whatever film you select, we'll give you
prints, slides and enlargements you'll be proud to show!
For interesting facts about Dale Laboratories... Click here.