We launched our photo contest this month, so what better time to share some tips on taking a great (winning!) photo. Digital cameras and smartphones have come a long way and with a little help, you can catch stunning images…and maybe win a 2-night stay at one of our Cambria Inns Collection hotels.
Tips for Camera Settings:
Select the highest quality setting available so you won’t have a muddy image or lose any details. This is especially true for photos that will be printed. You can reduce the quality to save space if needed, or keep an extra memory card handy so you never run out of room. Get used to your camera phone’s timing so when something interesting happens, you’ll have a good feel for the point when you need to press the shutter release to capture the most interesting moment. Play around with it until you are comfortable with the settings so you can quickly grab and shoot.
Tips for Composition:
Framing the perfect shot is easy when you use the rule of thirds…imagine a tic-tac-toe grid on top of the image and place objects of interest in the intersecting points. Let the ocean horizon land on the bottom third to emphasize the sky or on the top third to feature the water. A slight shift in perspective can make all the difference in creating drama. If the background of your image is cluttered or busy, move in closer to your subjects. If shooting people, eye contact with the camera creates a deeper connection with the subject. Don’t put your subject in the center of the image, rather move your object of interest off-center for a more interesting perspective and artistic view.
Tips for Lighting:
Avoid shooting in direct sun, and those overcast days are the best for photographing people as subjects are more attractively lit when the sun isn’t causing them to squint. On a sunny day, find the brightest shady spot or wait for “Magic Hour”…that time of the day during sunrise and sunset that the lighting has a magical glow and it is the best lighting of the entire day. Use your flash for outdoor shots…a flash can add supplemental lighting without creating the harsh shadows that indoor flash photography does. One great way to develop a photographer’s eye is to take photos in black and white so you can concentrate on the shadows and light without the distraction of the colors. View your color images in black and white mode for another perspective.
Tips for Improving your Images:
Stabilizing your camera is key to creating clear photos. You can hold the camera phone with both hands and brace your arms by keeping your elbows close to your body when you shoot. Using a tripod or stabilizing it on a surface is helpful if you are still seeing movement in the image. You can use movement to your advantage by practicing panning and create really cool techniques. Hold the camera phone with both hands, framing the approaching subject, and then moving the camera at the same speed as the subject, which ‘freezes’ the subject and blurs the background through motion. Shoot panoramas. If your camera phone doesn’t have this feature, there is software to stitch the images on your computer. You might need a tripod for best results in lining up the shots. You would start from one side and shoot multiple images as you move from side to side or top to bottom. Stitching the images creates a panoramic result that is a fabulous way to convey those things that are bigger than your lens can capture in a single shot...beautifully illustrated in this classic shot by Cooksey Talbott Photography.
Now that you know how to grab the perfect image…it is time to enter our photo contest!