I remember the day I got my little Nikon D40 camera in the mail two years ago. I had been looking forward to its arrival so much that I had the USPS package tracking page up constantly on my computer. Since the day I opened that Amazon box, I’ve become a photography-curious monster and I spend way too much time on sites like Photojojo and reading photo books. My appetite for any knowledge that will improve my shutter skills is a bit insatiable. And while I would never consider myself anywhere close to a professional photographer, I have compiled some tips and tricks along my journey of photo-knowledge gobbling.
1. Choose the right lens.
I spent the first year of my SLR photography life using the kit lens that came with the camera. For a beginner, that is perfectly acceptable, but I wholeheartedly recommend getting a new lens. Your photos will improve tremendously–mine did, especially in low light conditions. For me, I was choosing between a 50mm prime lens and a 17-50mm 2.8 wide-angle lens. Because I was living in New York at the time, I was taking a lot of photos outside of buildings and scenery so I chose the wide-angle lens. It was a bit pricey, but completely worth it. If you are going to be shooting primarily indoors, I recommend a 50mm prime lens with a low aperture.
2. Learn what aperture means.
My photo life completely changed when I learned what aperture really means. It makes it so much easier to take photos indoors and in low light if you have a general sense of what each setting does. Play with your camera. Digital SLR cameras and digital cameras as a whole make it so easy to play with settings by guessing and checking after each photo you take.
3. Read up on how to take photos in low light.
One of my favorite times to take photos is at night– like this picture I took last summer. The lights and the stars at night make such interesting photos and they are not difficult to capture at all, but you definitely need a tripod because your shutter is open for so much longer. There are some wonderful directions here on how to take pictures in the dark here.
4. Edit your photos.
One of the most fun parts of digital photography is editing the photos you take. I don’t have Photoshop or anything fancy to edit the photos I take and edit like the one above from my trip to Puerto Rico. There are many free options out there that work wonderfully. Pixlr is a website that behaves a lot like Photoshop and there also are retro photo editing tools as well. A program that is a personal favorite of mine is Polaroid where you can make your own digital photos into Polaroid Pictures. You can even shake your pictures while they develop.
Hopefully these tips will help you speed up your photo-skill journey. Photography is like any other art form, you just have to keep working at it, keep taking pictures, and keep snapping away to get better.