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How to take a good picture, a great picture, and an amazing picture.

- The simple secret to photos that impress –

 

The best way to christen this blog is an opening post about what it takes to be a [good] photographer.

Step 1: Get a dSLR. Or point and shoot. Or phone. Or anything else that can take a picture.

Step 2: Keep the camera nearby.

Step 3: Take pictures.

 

It doesn’t take a lot of money or equipment to take great photos; although it can help. Phones have some pretty advanced cameras these days and the growth of the cell phone photography genre fueled a wide range of relatively low cost aftermarket accessories to expand on what a phone camera can do.

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(
taken with my cell phone)

Building an arsenal of high end lenses, flashes, and other equipment is the other end of the spectrum and can make getting the picture easier, but at the cost of creativity (and money). It’s counterintuitive to consider having more options being a limitation, however, if it’s always easy to get the shot in mind the alternative point of view gained by putting the camera on the ground instead of a tripod or having to change the perspective due to an inconvenient focal length are missed.

Simply put, eye-catching photos are made up of one to three key elements all revolving around a similar principle. What the eye can [or can’t] see.

Technically correct photos. Rule of thirds, correct color balance, correct exposure, focus, level horizon, etc. are all important aspects of a good photo, except when they’re not. Technically correct photos can still be terribly bland to look at if they lack an interesting subject but good technique is [usually] necessary to guide the viewers’ eyes to where they should be looking.

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Perspective. Most people are between five and six feet tall; good photos are not taken from a height of five to six feet. The best way to capture a viewer’s interest is showing them something unusual. Squat down, climb on something, or tilt the camera to provide a different look and feel that will make for a much more interesting photo than a similar one at eye level.

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What can’t be seen. Huh? How can something that can’t be seen be captured in a photograph? More specifically, what can’t be seen by the human eye. In general, the human eye is capable of interpreting the visible color spectrum and the perception of time under normal circumstances. Black and white, macro, and long exposure photos capture interest immediately with their unorthodox look into the common world.

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[BONUS] Luck. The hardest element to find and capture but the easiest and most fun to improve. Be adventurous. Travel. Hike. Find situations the general population avoid. The best way to get a good subject is photograph where few people go, wait where few wait, explore where few explore. Timing isn’t everything, but it goes a long way. The best way to get lucky is by increasing the chance something interesting might happen and then being ready for it when it does.

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That’s it. A photo with any one of these three elements will be a good photo, any two: great, and get lucky with all three: amazing.

 

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