Think about your lighting when composing a scene or shot. It is one of the most critical factors to get right. Too much light and your image will be ‘bleached’ without any colour or definition, not enough and images will appear dark, without contrast and be uninteresting.
If you do not have the use of a comprehensive 1,2 or 3 point lighting set-up or portable speed light (s), try and embrace the natural, ambient light around you to help you keep your image bright, sharp and detailed.
If you’re shooting outside, remember, even on a cloudy day, there is an abundance of natural light to help you, embrace it.
If you’re shooting inside, use any light source you can to enhance your shot.
If you are familiar with spot metering, put your model or object directly in front of the light source and meter on the face or centre of the object for some really great results.
I am surprised how many ‘professional photographers’ provide customers with flat, non-contrasty images. You know the ones I mean, where models/subjects have no highlights/shadows, are flat in colour and without separation from the background.
Ideally your models/subjects need to stand-off from the background for a more interesting shot and it should look as though you can touch them or pick them up from the photograph, even if the chosen background is plain in colour.
Getting your contrast/detail settings right will help you achieve this.
Depth of Field
You must consider your depth of field when shooting images. Using Depth of Field correctly really helps your models/subjects stand-off the page when you shoot them.
Consider using wide aperture (low-f stops i.e. f2.8) and interesting focus points to achieve subjects in focus whilst backgrounds are out of focus, straight from the camera.
Are you struggling to get razor-sharp images when you enlarge your final shots?
Then you need to reduce your aperture size (high f-stops), use wide fields of focus/multiple focus points and slow down shutter speeds so your camera sensor has time to capture all the detail.
(And of course use a tripod, as per my previous blog – 6-Steps to Improving your DSL-Photography)
If you are using your camera on aperture control mode (A-Setting), this will allow you to adjust your aperture size but not your shutter speed.
If you are using your camera on shutter control mode (S-Setting), this will allow you to adjust your shutter speed but not your aperture control.
Using either of these camera settings can achieve great shots but you really need to use your camera in manual mode (M-Setting) where you adjust both aperture size (f-stop) and shutter speed to achieve the shots you need, straight from the camera.
I am a big fan of full-frame colour rich images.
But there are just some times where too much colour from your models/subjects can ‘overload’ a shot with too much colour information for it to produce a really great shot.
You know the shots I mean, everyone is wearing their new brightly coloured Christmas Jumpers and colour/information is detracting from expressions or faces.
I often find this calls for a change to monochrome camera settings for some really beautiful black and white shots.
Of course you can do this in post-production but why not get stunning black and white shots straight from the camera?
I often find my Nikon cameras’ monochrome settings produces black and white images that really are beautiful. Mainly due to the lighting being set at the time to achieve a great black and white shot but I am also convinced setting the camera for a great shot from the outset always wins over post-production editing.
So whether it is colour or black and white images you’re looking for, I’m a big advocate of getting your camera settings right for each shot (which may require some pre-planning or setting up of presets to enable you to change your settings quickly and easily on the day).
Get your camera settings right saves a lot of pain or post-production time.