When photographing anything that has eyes, people, birds, frogs or dogs, I almost always want to have my camera at the same height as their eyes. Sure, there are exceptions, but generally being at eye level makes for more compelling photos. So if you are taking photos of a child opening Christmas presents, get down on the floor. If you are shooting eagles plucking fish out of the water, be at water level. If you are taking a portrait, shoot head on with the person, although older folks do appreciate if you get a just little higher which will hide double chins and saggy necks.
Camera lenses are full of flaws, which can be bad, but we can also use some of them in a creative way. I’m sure you’ve seen sunbursts in photos but maybe you haven’t figured out how to get them in your photos. All lenses will create the effect when the sun, or any strong light source, shines directly in the lens. But it doesn’t always happen, only when the lens aperture is very small, like f/22, and letting in very little light. Stopping your camera down to f/22 doesn’t always make the points happen either. If you aim your camera directly at the sun, you probably won’t see any bursts. You need to have the strong light source be slightly diffracted by something, like a tree branch, or lamp post.
I run into a lot of beginning photographers who see something they want to photograph, look at the scene, take one picture and move on. Unless they are damn good or really lucky, they are probably not getting the best photo possible. When I am out shooting, I’m looking to get the best photos I can, not the most photos. I prefer quality over quantity and I achieve this by what I call working the scene. Working the scene means that I am going to exhaust all possible angles, positions, settings and lenses before I am satisfied that I have made the best image possible. It may require moving my tripod down two inches or to the right two yards. I tend to look at angles first without the camera because over the years I’ve learned what it will look like, but I recommend you look through the camera first, find the right spot to start and then put the camera on the tripod. Slowing down and working the scene will make you a happier photographer!
One the keys to photos at night is to add light where needed. Many times we just shoot what is there but adding some light of your own can make a big difference. It doesn’t require tons of equipment, just imagination and experimentation. This show of a covered bridge was lit with a flashlight. I did a 30 second exposure and walked around shining my little flashlight on the end of the bridge and the fence. It took several attempts to get it right but checked the each exposure on of the back of my camera and then made adjustments.
With the nice weather upon us, many people are thinking about photographing sunsets Or sunrises, which I prefer. But they don’t always look the way we think they should when we load the images into our computer. Having the sun filtering through a few clouds makes the picture more dramatic. A cloudless sunset is usually pretty boring. And it always helps to have something in the foreground, a shot of the sun setting over the water usually lacks an element or two in the image.
If I want the sun to be big in the picture, I use as long a telephoto as I can. This shot from my Meetup last Sunday was done with a 70-200mm lens with a 2X teleconverter giving me a 400mm lens. Then to add extra drama, make something a silhouette in the foreground, it adds that extra wow factor. And your exposure usually needs to be darker than you think. I meter right above the sun to get the sky good and dark. Unless the sun is peeking through fog, it will usually come out a white circle even when it looks yellow to your eye. There isn’t much you can do about that.