Photography Tips and Tricks
 By Valkyrie   •   22nd Dec 2009   •   2,545 views   •   7 comments
I canít make graphics or linearts or manipulations. I love the people who do, but there is more to art than that. Art doesnít have to involve brushes of any kind. There are a lot of Ponybox members who canít make graphics, who donít have Photoshop, and I am one of them. So my ďArtistís CornerĒ is about photography.

Photography can be pretty much defined as taking photos of objects, landscapes or people. But itís so much more than that. Sure, photographers donít spend hours attending to tiny details on an easel. But what we do still benefits a lot of people in a lot of ways, by showing them the beauty in the world around them, which regular people would otherwise miss as they go about their daily routine. How else would a banker in New York know exactly what an okapi looks like? How else would a small-town girl in rural New Zealand know how far a desert Arabian stretches in mid-stride? How else would someone from a first-world country know what itís like in the slums of India?

The answer is simple: photography.

Though Iím not as good as Bob Langrish in the art of capturing our four-legged equine friends, I do consider myself a pretty good photographer. I donít know lenses and megapixels, and I donít care about using a tripod or not. But I still know a few tips and tricks to getting a good photograph, and I would very much like to share them with you. You see, I canít make manipulations on a computer. I donít have the patience to paint a masterpiece. And I certainly cannot play an instrument. So I express myself in two ways: through the pen (writing) and from behind a camera.

Now, I use a dinky little Kodak EasyShare C433 that only has a 3x zoom, and couldnít take a picture at night to save itself. But as you can see from the example photographs I have, it doesnít matter whether you have a big, expensive ďprofessionalĒ camera or a cheap little point-and-shoot. As long as you know how to position yourself and the subject, the world is your oyster.

I want to share with you three techniques to use that will help you take good photographs. They are: levels, rule of thirds and timing. Each can turn an ordinary looking subject into an extraordinary captured moment.

Firstly, levels. Levels can make a subject look intimidating or vulnerable. Large or small. If used properly they can turn something small into something big, or vice versa. Levels often involve standing on something like a chair or log, and also kneeling or lying on the ground. Photography can be a dirty business! The first horse photograph below was taken in my paddock back home. I was mucking around with my camera and my miniature horse Star was following me. So, as an experiment, I lay down on my back (in the mud I might add) and snapped a picture of her looming over me. She looks to be about eighteen hands high, but in reality she comes only to my hip.

Secondly is my favourite technique, the rule of thirds. For this you basically divide your camera screen or viewfinder into nine different squares (three across, three down) of equal size. Most people, when taking a photograph, position the subject in the very centre. This can be effective, but it is often more effective to NOT centre it. Notice below, the photograph of the island. It is not positioned dead centre, but slightly to the right, with the cloud to the left. It makes it look like the cloud is "chasing" the island, or that the cloud is somehow scary (being, as it is, darkly coloured and foreboding).
Also, the shot after the island one (of the heart drawn into the sand). Rule of Thirds just makes everything look more interesting and spontaneous, instead of boring.

Thirdly, timing. Unfortunately, this often can't be helped. My only advice to you for this is to know your camera, and know it well. My camera is incredibly slow. Often I'll click the button just as a wave curls the perfect degree, or a horse reaches the apex of its jump, only to find (afterwards) that the wave has crashed down and the horse has landed. I have had my camera for two or three years now, and know exactly when to press for a perfect shot.
Earlier this year I was lucky enough to go to a three-day-event for the cross-country day. I got some really nice shots in, because I knew when to press the button. For my camera, if I press it as the horse takes off I can usually get some decent bascules with the horse's knees up tight. It was really tricky, however, when I was photographing the three-star class. The jump I had positioned myself at was a real nasty one, where the horses had to canter into a shed and jump out of a hole in the other end. It took a few tries before I learnt to listen for the hoofbeats so I could know when the horse was taking off.

So the last photograph is just one of where timing can help. My friend and I were walking along the beach and I told her to go jump off a dune so I could photograph her. She did and it turned out as a really nice shot.

So, remember. It doesn't matter whether you have the latest and greatest Olympus or a $60 point-and-shoot. Photography isn't about who has the best gear, but who has the best technique and the best style. Anything that you might look at and think is mundane can be made beautiful just by photographing from a different angle, or using a different setting on your camera.

Sure, photography might not be considered "art", but I think it is. Because it takes a true artist to capture beautiful moments in time.
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I like photography and am thinking of entering some in my State Fair next year. Your photography is good also.
  Dec 22, 2009  •  1,655 views
Dragonfly Farm  
This was really helpful :D
  Dec 22, 2009  •  1,708 views
Dragonfly Farm  
(rest of mycomment got deleted sorry) I currently have a Nikon D60, and i can tell you, at times i just want to trade it in for a bucket of el' cheapo's xD Some of the best pictures i have ever seen were taken with cheap digital camera's. It doesn't matter how much you spend on your camera, because the best Photographers can capture the beauty in even the uggliest object.
  Dec 22, 2009  •  1,708 views
Very nice article, and lovely photos you took ^_^ I like the fact that you pointed out that photography is not about the camera, but about the artist's ability. I used to get discouraged when i didn't have a massive, fancy camera but I've learned to love my little Nikon since he can snap just as great as an SLR. Thumbs up on this article and good luck w/ your future photography!
  Dec 29, 2009  •  1,729 views
Lala from Paint  
Very nice article! A girl down the street from me is a 10 year old photographer. A picture she took was taken with the disposable cameras and she won multiple awards for it. She even got 1st place at the state fair. Once again , very lovely aritcle !
  Jan 1, 2010  •  1,687 views
I really liked you article, and I know what you mean about the camera, but sometimes it is easier to take pictures with a better camera. I had a sony digital...broken flash for 3 years....I had a hard time to get any decently lighted pictures, but after complaining for 2 years I guess my brother got the hint.He bought me a new camera (sony touch screen!) for christmas and let me tell you the features are really helping me capture some really cool moments! Like now, I can take pictures of my horse full speed and it not be a big blur, and I can tak pictures of fireworks with out just seeing black. But me and my old camera had some really good pictures too, even though it was hard we still have a really good pictures of my horse jumping and pictures of a sun set on a lake. I'm hoping one day that I will have a career along the lines of art or horses...most likely horse training/breeding. But I really liked your pictures and hope you keep at it...and, just a little something for you photog
  Jan 1, 2010  •  1,722 views
Great article! I just a digital camera for x-mas, so the article helped me alot! I'm looking forward to some better photos.
  Jan 2, 2010  •  1,715 views
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