Sunday, April 22, 2012

12 Great Tips to Punch Up Your Snaps

These sorts of posts are always terrible messes, giving you twelve useless bits of eye candy you can apply. If you have not mastered depth of field, or bokeh, or HDR or whatever technical hoo-hah you want to deploy, go read up, practice, and just do it. None of these things are hard. By all means, go look closely at photographs you enjoy looking at, pick them apart. What did the photographer do?
  • Where is the light coming from?
  • Is it soft or harsh?
  • What is the angle of view?
  • What is the point of view?
  • What was done to color and contrast with post-processing?
and so on. Then pick through these things for which ones are important to making you enjoy the image. Technique probably plays a role in your enjoyment, it's rare that a subject alone is enough, so figure out what you like.
Then go practice those techniques a little. Really, it's not that hard. If you really want a tutorial on bokeh, google "bokeh tutorial" and you'll probably find a dozen. They won't tell you anything you don't know, or could not have figured out in 30 seconds of experimentation.
Similarly lighting, photographs posted on flickr or wherever with "strobist info" drive me wild. If you need a little diagram of the lighting setup to see what's going on, you're simply not looking at the photograph. Look at the result, it's all in there. By definition. If the result of a light isn't visible in the photograph, then that light isn't necessary anyway.
Here's some general guidelines and ideas for making a photograph that connects with the viewer:
  • How does the scene make you feel? What about it makes you feel that way? Shoot that.
  • Is there a story in your image? Tell it in one frame. Well, shoot many frames, but pick the one that tells the story.
  • When in doubt, put people in it. People are interesting.
  • Be enigmatic, if nothing else. Make the viewer wonder, but try not to let them down. See also putting people in.

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