Photography 101

  • Downhome Magazine
  • Posted: Oct 24, 2011 2:44 PM
This early rising photographer was caught in the first rays of sunlight as the mist began to clear on the Humber River at Steady Brook. (Aiden Mahoney photo)

Canada's East Coast is a photographer's paradise - but if you're clueless about cameras, those vibrant outport communities and rugged coastal scenes may fall flat in photo-form. Here are a few basic tips we hope will help you take great photos.

The Right Angle
When taking portraits, look your subject in the eye for a more intimate image - afterall, the eyes are the window to the soul! If you're photographing young children, get down to their eye level.

Brooke ImageVallis' attempt at a "fish face" is so adorable at eye-level! (Harold Vallis photo)

Up Close and Personal
Moving closer to your subject often produces more powerfully detailed images. If you can't physically move closer, try zooming in as much as your camera will allow to achieve a tighter shot.

A close-up of a pitcher plant. (Melissa Sheppard photo)

Before snapping a picture, take a look around for any obtrusive clutter that may take away from your shot. Aim for photos free of power lines, street signs, light poles, litter, etc. This photo (left) would have been much more dramatic if only the photographer had moved to a vantage point where the unsightly power lines weren't included.

Provide Scale
Picture this: You're standing in a gorgeous locale staring at gigantic, rugged cliffs that tower into the sky above you. The scene is just larger than life - and you want to capture it for your photo album. You snap a photo thinking it'll be frameworthy - but when you finally see it enlarged on your computer screen, you are totally under-whelmed. Why don't those cliffs look as magnificent as they were when you were standing in front of them? If you'd just had something (or someone) in the photo to create a sense of scale, the scene probably would have turned out more like you remember it. Next time, take a loved one (or even your pet pooch!) along to help create scale in photos. Or, shoot an area with a photogenic object, like a boat or wharf, in the foreground.

Doesn't the Lewis Hills landscape look larger than life with this backpacker providing scale? (Aiden Mahoney photo)

The Facts on Flash
When shooting indoors, turn OFF your flash. Oftentimes, using your flash inside produces a flat, dull light. Instead, have your subjects stand near (though not directly in front of) a window for great, natural light. Outside, turn your flash ON to prevent the sun from creating deep, dark shadows.

Obey the Rule
One effective, yet simple, method many photographers use to create more aesthetically pleasing photos is the "rule of thirds." To adhere to the rule of thirds, divide a scene you plan to photograph into thirds - both horizontally and vertically. Move your camera so that the subject (ie. a boat, lobster pot, person, animal, etc.) appears where any of the lines intersect.

Photographer Brian Saunders was obeying the rule of thirds when composing this scenic lighthouse photo.

Stay in Focus
Holding the camera steady while shooting is extremely important. If you don't own a tripod, lean against a wall to steady yourself while taking photos. Make sure you're focused on the subject of your photograph and not on whatever's in the background. Lock your focus by centering the subject, then press and hold the shutter button halfway down. While holding the shutter button halfway, reposition your camera so the subject is off-centre (obeying the rule of thirds). Then press the shutter-button all the way down to take a perfectly focused photo.

Lighting! Lighting! Lighting!
Of course, choosing a great location is very important when taking photographs - but bad lighting can make even the most scenic of locales look dull and drab. The best times of day to take photos outdoors are early in the morning, just after dawn; and late afternoon, just before sunset. At these times, sunlight is more rich and shadows are larger. Not getting many sunny days? Even overcast skies can make for nice photos. A bright yellow dory or deep red saltbox house will really pop against a grey background.

These deep red fishing stores brightened up a grey, foggy day in Salvage, Newfoundland. (Dave Wheeler photo)