A while ago I shared with you how I edit my blog post photos, and since then I've had a couple of requests to share how I take my photos in the first place! Logically it would have made sense to write them the other way round, but it's good to be different - right? First of all, I use the Nikon D3100 with a standard 18-50mm lens. It's a fairly cheap camera and there are certainly better ones out there (at a much higher cost), but this has served me well and I'm extremely familiar with all the settings and features. I could probably take a photo with my eyes shut! Just so you know, it doesn't really matter which camera body you get as long as you get one with a standard size lens mount so you can get lots of different lenses to build up your camera kit.
Timing. I tend to take my photos mid-morning or in the afternoon after the midday sun has started to lower in the sky. As I only use natural light for my photos, I've found that these are the best times to get well lit photos with minimal shadows. I never use flash and I urge you never to do so either. It creates glare and can ruin your photos! When taking my photos, I place whatever objects I'm taking in a well lit location onto of a self made backdrop (large sheets of thick paper) to keep my images looking bright and crisp.
I shoot on manual. I always shoot on manual. I've shot like this for a while, as a professional photographer once advised me to do so and I've never looked back since! Shooting on manual allows you to adjust all of the settings on your camera to suit the lighting conditions at a time! I usually set my ISO to 100 and if the lighting isn't so great I go up to 200 - but never higher than that! If you shoot using high ISOs, you come out with a super grainy photo, so unless you're a concert photographer or are aiming for that effect - stick to a low setting! Shutter speed and aperture are probably the most important settings when it comes to taking any photo. You want to aim to have a shutter speed of around 1/125 to keep your photos completely in focus. This means that the shutter opened and closes pretty quickly, leaving you with lovely crisp images. Adjusting the aperture on your camera, adjusts how sensitive the sensor is to light. A low aperture, lets lots of light into the camera and a high aperture leaves out the light and gives you dark images. It helps to think about it as a 24 hour clock. At 9.00 (e.g low aperture of f/6.3), it is light and bright and at 21:00 (e.g hight aperture of f/22) it is pitch black dark!
I take my images in a JPEG+Raw file format. Saving a 'Raw' file helps in that if you completely mess up with your camera settings, but have taken a well composed image - you can go into Photoshop (and some other editing programs) and change your camera settings HOW AWESOME IS THAT?! You can essentially go back in time and alter how you shot your photos! MAGIC!
Manual focus. As well as shooting on a manual setting, it is also important to focus your DSLR manually. Although it takes more time and effort - the results can often be so much better! You can play around with the focus to add depth to your photos, it always looks nice to have some bits out of focus on purpose.
I hope this post has helped some of you! If there's anything that you feel I haven't covered - please let me know and I'll get back to you or if there's a lot of topics to cover I'll include them in another blog post! Oh and if you have any tips of your own, feel free to share them in the comments to help each other out!