Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tech Talk Tuesday - 10 Things To Check Before Snapping the Shutter

Below I've listed ten important questions to ask yourself prior to taking your picture.  I think if you will mentally run down this list, your photography will improve and you will take more memorable pictures....you know, the kind that you, your family and friends, and your bloggging buddies will find interesting, creative and memorable:

1. What do I want my viewers to experience?

Do I want them to experience an emotion? Do I want to tell them a story? Do I want to give information? Do I want to inspire them with the beauties of nature? Do I want to make a political statement?
Your image should have a specific purpose.

2.  Do I have a strong subject or focal point that supports the purpose of my image?  (And maybe additional elements that support the main subject?)

 Have I made the main subject of my image stand out in some way from all the other elements in the composition so my viewers are certain what I'm trying to emphasize or draw attention to?  You can do this in many ways, such as: where in the composition you place your subject; keeping the subject in focus while blurring the background: using contrasting colors to set your subject apart....just to name a few possibilities.

3.  Have I tried to simplify my composition to emphasize the important subject or focal point?

As you look through your viewfinder, mentally decide if there are distracting elements that can be eliminated by shooting from a different angle, zooming in or out, blurring the background, or simply moving objects out of the frame, if possible.  A simple composition often makes for a stronger statement with more impact.

4.  Am I close enough to my subject to really make an impact?

One of the biggest mistakes beginning photographers make is not getting close enough to their subject.  'Up close and personal' means just that.  The closer you are, the more intimate and personal your viewers will feel about your image.  

5.  Does the available light source contribute or detract, & do I need additional light?

What is the direction of my light and is it strong enough?  Do I need to bump up my ISO or use a faster lens or add some fill flash?  How does the color and direction of the light affect the mood and impact of my subject and composition?

6.  Would moving my camera make a stronger composition?

Would my composition look better in a portrait orientation or a landscape orientation?  Could I tell my story better and make a more interesting image if I changed my perspective, point of view and/or angle?  Can I think of a way to be more creative than just holding my camera at eye level?  Can I lay down on the ground, climb up on a ladder, or tilt my camera to show a view of my subject that would be unique and interesting?

7.  Do I want the background to be sharp or blurred?

How will the background add to my image and subject rather than detract from it?  Do I understand the functions of my camera well enough so I can make the creative decision to have the background sharp or soft?  Do I understand the functions of various lenses so I can make the decision to have the background recede or be prominent in my image?  

8.  Have I carefully inspected all elements in the frame other than my subject?

Have I carefully looked at my composition to see what else I've included in the frame in addition to my subject?  Are there trees growing out of the subject's head, or unflattering shadows hiding part of my subject's face?  Are there other distracting elements in the frame that take away from, rather than add to the main subject?  How can I eliminate unwanted elements to create a stronger image? 

9.  Have I identified something unique about my composition that sets it apart? 

What is different about my image that will make my viewers find it interesting, creative and unique?  No one really wants to look at boring pictures.  Great images have what I call the 'WOW' factor!

10.  Have I developed a simple 'check camera settings' list to run through before I go on a photo shoot? 
  • Shooting in RAW......check
  • ISO set to 200...........check
  • White balance set to cloudy........check
  • Exposure composition set to 0....check
  • Empty CF cards and extra charged battery packed.....check
  • Flash, extra batteries and reflector packed.......check
  • etc.
  • etc.     
Spending a few minutes to check your list could mean the difference between ending up with a card full of beautiful images, or ruined ones!