Whether it’s a breath-taking landscape or casual candids at a wedding, taking a good picture is an art form. So we’ve enlisted the help of professional Jonathan Dillon to show us how it’s done
Rule of thirds
When looking through the viewfinder and lining up a shot, try splitting the scene up in to three segments, both vertically and horizontally (see image on right). Rather than taking a photo head on with the subject (like all the other amateurs will likely be doing), try placing points of interest either in one of the sections, or along the lines.
For example, you could put a horizon in line with the top or bottom line, and the main point of interest off centre to one of the side sections. This makes pictures more interesting than the typical ‘point and click’ shots. If done right, this technique allows the viewer to browse across the image and see it in a more natural way.
Draw the viewer in
Place an object or point of interest in the foreground of your photo to help guide the viewer in to the picture. Anything from a footpath, face, tree or handrail can be used to draw the eyes along and in to the deeper part of an image. Take a look at the image I took of Monument Valley in Arizona (above). The log helps guide you in to the centre of the picture.
Think of other angles
Don’t just stay standing with the camera, get down to floor level, or perhaps elevate yourself with the camera and see how you can achieve different variations of the same shot. It’ll soon become evident which is more effective depending on the subject matter. You’ll be amazed at how moving the camera to a higher or lower position can completely change an outlook of a photo.
If you’re fortunate enough to find yourself at a scenic destination during either sunrise or sunset, be sure to make use of the changing light from the sun. There are two ‘golden hours’ to every day. These two times normally work best when taking landscape/scenery shots. Half an hour before and after sunrise, half an hour before and after sunset. This is when light is normally at its most dramatic offering interesting variations in colour. In the middle of the day, natural light is at its most intense as the sun is directly above. This harsh lighting can cause problems as it casts harsh shadows. These are particularly annoying when it comes to portrait photography, where a flash is normally used to fill in shading from the sun.
When you’re a guest at a wedding or event, it’s all about waiting for that right moment to capture – taking nice photos of people having a good time. Take a look around, and look out for those moments when people are in conversation with each other, smiling and laughing. These ‘candid’ shots make great memories when people are acting naturally, not realising they’re under surveillance!
A tripod is ideal for stabilising the camera, in order to decrease the chances of image blur. You can pick up some really cheap, small travel tripods you can easily squeeze in to suitcases. Alternatively, if you find yourself without a tripod at hand, make use of your surroundings e.g. a wall or ledge of some sort to help stabilise the camera. A flash is essential to fill in shadows either when light is low, or if the sun is behind your subject and their face needs lighting up with fill light. Most cameras come with flashes, perfect for when fill light is needed.
And don’t forget
Always go out knowing your battery is fully charged, and if possible carry a spare battery with you. Make sure there’s enough spare room on the memory card, or take a few spares with you.
For more information go to creativephotoimages.co.uk or call Jonathan on 07811 395511.
“A friend of mine quit his photography course at university and I started using his camera. That was when I realised I had a passion for taking pictures so I carried on”, he told Fine Sussex. Now, almost three years later, Jonathan (or Jonny as he is often known) is a professional photographer, snapping portraits, landscapes and also taking on corporate or product assignments. The 25-year-old was mostly self-taught for his first year and went on to study a diploma at the Photography Institute in London.
SOME OF THE (MOST COMMONLY USED) CAMERAS AVAILABLE
SLR (Single-Lens Reflex)
Automatic or full manual capability with interchangeable lenses. Takes film, which can become rather costly when developing the images. The only time you can view the images you have taken is after they have been developed.
This is the standard ‘point-and-shoot’ type of camera the majority of people own. They mainly just shoot in full automatic mode, and the lens cannot be changed. Images can be viewed straight away or uploaded to a computer for viewing. Perfect for the amateur who wants to take holidays photos or good memories with friends. Most record video as well.
The camera of choice for most professionals. Same capabilities as the film SLR, but with a digital back and does not take film. Images can be viewed straight away or uploaded to a computer for viewing. Some of the higher end models are able to record video.