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Photography Tips

Tips Week 01 by Ken Finegan

Over the next few weeks I aim to clear up some of the difficulties people find with photography in general. But before starting down a technical route there is one major thing I want to address.

Photography for many is a wonderful hobby and some people don’t want to know all of the techniques and technical information. This is fine. Photography gets you out and about (safely), clears your mind and puts you in a better place. I find it’s like therapy!

There is nothing more I like than to stroll with my DSLR, Drone or Camera Phone while making images. The hours fly by and if you can do this with your partner in life, what a better way to spend an afternoon, early morning and sunset.

So, then the main thing to do with photography is enjoy it.

Lets start with the basics, firstly FOCUS.

Focus may seem like a very basic point but it is essential. Every time I make an image I focus making sure the part of the image I want in focus, is.

With DSLR’s (Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras) they normally come in auto mode when you buy them. That is fine but when you want to focus they normally bring up several points within little boxes in the viewfinder or screen and it may not be necessarily the point YOU want in focus. Fine the selector button on your camera and change it to single point focusing (your manual will have this and it is very easy to do). This allows YOU to select which part of the image YOU want in focus. This is the SUBJECT of your picture.

For people using camera phones, touch the screen at the point you want to focus on. This will focus on your subject and bring up other options as well but we will deal with these later on.

In this picture taken on my cameraphone I focused (touched the screen) on the apple in the background.

In this picture taken on my cameraphone I focused (touched the screen) on the apple in the foreground.

All digital compact cameras and DSLR’s have a two position shutter release button (the button you make the picture with). When you press the button half way the camera focuses on your subject. NOW, if you keep that button half pressed (don’t take the pressure off the button) you can now move slightly to position your subject wherever you want in the frame and it will stay in focus or sharp.

Focusing and the 3F’s

Simple, but Very Important

1. Focus 2. Frame 3. Fire

· Focus. You decide on your point of focus not the camera. Select single point focusing in the menu of your camera. This point can be altered but for the moment please select the centre point.

· Half press the shutter release button and focus on your subject.

· Do not let the pressure off the shutter release button. By doing this your lens will remain on the original point you focused on even if you move.


· By framing I mean that you move the camera (slightly) to position your subject where you want them in the frame.

· You must not move forward or backwards, keep in the same plane as when you focused. This is very important. If you have a focus lock button on your DSLR or digital compact camera you can also use this facility. Some lenses have this facility also.


· When you are sure that you are happy with the composition of your image gently press the shutter release button without making sudden movements or changing the framing of your subject.

· In all types of photography, especially portraiture, it is wise to take more than one image of your subject. Why?

· For several reasons:

· 1. Closed eyes,

· 2. Expressions,

· 3. Variation of pose, posture. Do not bank on one image being the best. You have to be certain! You decide where you focus: You decide the SUBJECT.

When you are making images, especially portraits DO NOT make the picture and then look at the screen straight away. What’s the first thing that happens? Your subject comes over beside you and looks.

You now have to reset the subject and start posing all over again. As long as you have the camera/camera phone up to your eye or in front of you your subject will not move. Make several images of your subject and select the best one.

Let’s end with a couple of basic settings I would recommend.

Firstly quality. I would always shoot with the best quality available, whether video or stills. You can always lower the quality in post processing with programmes such as Photoshop, Gimp (freeware) or other photo manipulation software.

For those with DSLR’s you can use either RAW or JPG’s or a mixture of both. For general news and sport I only use JPG’s.

Mostly I use 400 ISO (I will be dealing with ISO later). I call it the ‘Irish’ ISO because it covers most of the situations I come across.

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Thanks for this Ken, I am learning already and looking forward to putting in to practice. Normally I just point and click

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