Most of you experienced people will know this stuff already, so ignore this post, or better yet, feel free to add your own ideas!

Once you’ve gotten used to the ISO, f-stop and shutter speed, there is still so much more you can do to make your picture pop!  Having a properly exposed image is technically good, but that’s not going to make a wild, “holy s**t, I can’t believe you took that” photograph.

The first thing to look at is when and where you’re taking your photograph.  Don’t just snap off your picture whenever and wherever! This is a big mistake that a lot of new photographers make.  While it’s true that if 1% of your shots are good, and you take 1,000 shots, then you’ll have ten good shots, wouldn’t you rather save your time and effort, not to mention the wear and tear on your camera, and look like a professional in the process, by being a little pickier in your shots?

I’m not saying don’t take a bunch of shots.  Anyone who grew up shooting film knows how much of a godsend digital is.  Don’t like your shot?  Press the delete button and all you’ve lost is one hundred-thousandth of your battery power in the process.  Big whoop.  But just because you can spray & pray, doesn’t mean you have to.

Take a look at your subject.  How do you visualize it looking on screen or on print?  Do you want a big, overall picture, or do you want to focus down on one little aspect?  If you look at the car pictures from my site at Kyle Edwards Photography, you’ll see that, although I have a few that show the overall car, most focus in on one aspect.  Here’s an example.  This shot was taken from a 1955 Chevy Bel Air.  This car was in gorgeous condition all ways round, but I chose to focus on this one aspect, for reasons I’ll explain below.

The Dashboard of a 1955 Chevy Bel Air

© Kyle Edwards

Although I could have done a full body shot, I chose to focus on this aspect of the dashboard for a few reasons.

  1. Everyone and their uncle takes a full body shot of classic cars, and
  2. At car shows, the cars are often parked close together, as was in this case.  It would have been impossible to get a clean shot of this car without any other car in the image.

I would have preferred to have had unrestricted access to it for a few reasons, but as the owner wasn’t around, I couldn’t ask, and I wasn’t going to assume anything on my own.  As a sign on another car so eloquently put it, “Choose Life – Don’t Touch Me.”

Here’s another example.

A Fire Escape at night, lit only from the left

© Kyle Edwards

This is a shot I did last year on my T2i.  I’ve tried to get a cleaner image with my 5DIII but just can’t get it better, so this one stands (though I’d like to straighten it out a little more, but that’s another day).  Anyway, here’s the same scene in brighter times, so you can see what it looks like normally:

The same fire escape as earlier, but in dawn light.  Simply posted for comparison.

It’s the same place, taken an hour later, at a different time of year, from further back.  Pretty boring building, huh?

So when you see a scene, look around; take it all in.  It’s unlikely that, in the history of photography, you’ll take a picture that nobody has ever taken before.  However, it is possible that you take a picture that is so unique that nobody who sees your photo has ever seen one like it before, including you!

Walk around it, get closer, step back, crouch down, stand on tip toes, stand over it, lay down under it.  How would it look lit at night?  What about in bright day?  Would a model accent it?  Yes, you’ll get weird looks from passersby, but you’re a photographer now, so get used to it.

Now get out there and start shooting!  Don’t go doing anything I wouldn’t do, and if you do, take pictures. 😉


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