Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Ban Boring Images (Back to Basics)

If you don't get the Big Basics right you will never ever get out of the starting blocks. You will be glued forever on the starting line. With millions of cameras out there to get an edge you just have to get the basics right - I call them the Big Basics. Lets banish Boring forever.

1. Fit a lens hood
After Robin Hood a Lens Hood is the next best thing in Sherwood Forest. 
Lens hoods DO make a difference. A big difference. They cut stray light from reaching the sensor. As a result contrast and colour saturation both improve and the image will appear sharper. Make sure you buy the hood designed specifically for your lens not a generic variety.
If you fail to use a lens hood you are automatically between 10% and 50% worse off image quality-wise.

2. Clean the lens
You're driving your car singing along with ABBa and all is fine. Turn your car and drive directly into the setting sun and all of a sudden your windscreen is covered with dust, scratches, bird droppings and squashed insects. 'Where the hell did all that come from', you ask. It was there all the time but you never noticed it. Your lens is just the same. To clean your lens use a blower brush, micro-fibre lens cloth and on rare occasions some lens cleaning fluid.

3. Use a single focus point
Cameras come out of the factory programmed as females. They have many focus points. You need to give your camera a sex change. Turn it into a male camera by giving it one single focus point. 
When you have multiple focus points YOUR CAMERA decides where to focus NOT you.  You may miss the subject - the diver, the face, the dog. With a single focus point YOU decide what will be sharp, not the camera.

4. Switch from Auto to P (Program)
Is AUTo useless? Of course not.
When your Granny or Uncle Harry ask to take some shots with your camera at the wedding put your camera on AUTO and hand it to them. No instructiions required. Just say 'have fun' (and check your insurance policy)
P (Program) works exactly the same way as AUTO except you can change settings like ISO, WB, Flash off, Forced Flash and so on. Its the first baby step to becoming an independent, creative, thinking photographer. A photographer with a mind of your own.

5. No more than 3 elements in your image
How could I possibly provide five Big Basic tips without mentioning something artistic?? Something to improve your design.
This sounds simple. But many of my students find it difficult if not impossible. Most photographers love making complicated 'busy' images. Simplicity, pwer and message are required.You need discipline. Its decisive. Its good design. Its not for photographivc wimps.
Frame your image, change the angle, alter the zoom (focal length).  Even change where you are standing so that you have exactly three elenets in your image. Practise this and I guarantee your photography will take a gigantic leap forwards. You will be out of the starting blocks and racing around the great digital track.



Get your basic in order at a UWA Workshop with Dale Neill.

Consider entering Western Australia's most prestigous photographic awards - the Fremantle International Portrait Prize with $12,000 in cash and prizes.


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