Photography 101: Beginner’s Editing Tips, Cameras, Composition…

Photography is one of my favourite things to experiment with, and something I’ve worked on a lot throughout the last year. I love the process of capturing a moment, tweaking the photo to bring out the best in it and then sharing it on my blog so that the world can see it – each photo tells a story and I take pride in how my photography looks! As I’ve come a long way over the last year, from beginner to semi-competent (if I do say so myself!), I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learnt and my top tips for photography.

First things first – what kind of camera should you use?

I personally use a Nikon D3300 DSLR camera with an 18-55mm lens – the standard lens that comes with the camera and perfect if you’re new to photography, but want a little more flexibility and the choice of shooting in automatic or manual mode. It’s compact, easy to use and you can take fantastic photos without needing to get too deep into the different settings on the camera. If you’re considering something a bit more serious, I’ve recently been eyeing up the new Panasonic LUMIX DC-GH5S Mirrorless Camera. The LUMIX GH5S boasts a fantastic range of features, including 30x optical zoom, shooting video in 4K and excellent low-light photography. I think this camera would be a great investment if you’re more serious about your photography and like to produce high-quality videos. Perhaps I’ll have to consider an upgrade soon!

However, the camera you use is entirely down to personal preference. I’ve always used Nikon and it’s what I will probably always go to as a first choice as I’m used to the interface and how the camera works – but I know that a lot of people (and fellow bloggers) love using their Panasonic and Canon cameras too. I’d recommend heading into a camera shop and testing out a few different types – pick up a few and get a feel of how they are to hold, and whether you like the display and ease of use.

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Should I be shooting in RAW or JPEG?

The answer is simple – if you’re after a high quality image that you’d like to edit without losing any detail, definitely RAW. I take all of my photos in RAW and it is so worth it. Each image file size is significantly bigger than JPEG as the files contain so much more data – but this is a good thing as it means your photos are higher quality and therefore give you greater editing ability. I’d recommend getting an external hard drive so you can edit your photos and save them straight onto there – otherwise your computer would get very full very quickly!

How to use Adobe Lightroom for editing

I’ve used Adobe Lightroom ever since getting my Nikon right at the beginning of the year – and I’ve never looked back! I have the Adobe Creative Cloud plan that is £9.98 per month, and it is SO worth it. I can guarantee that you won’t find any free photo editing software that even comes close to how user friendly, versatile and just all round amazing Adobe Lightroom is.

This is what Lightroom looks like – it looks a little daunting at first, but I promise you that once you get into the swing of things it’s easy to use! I don’t tend to use a lot of the editing options available as I generally don’t find that they’re necessary for most of my photos – I just stick with the options in the ‘Basic’ menu on the left hand side.

For most of my photography (a lot of which is nature focussed) I just tweak the temperature a little – which is great for snowy photos – and then adjust the exposure, contrast, clarity and vibrance until I’m happy with the finished photo. I don’t like to over edit my photos, just enhance and correct them to bring out their full potential! I generally don’t use the saturation adjuster at all as I find this can be a little too intense. Viewing a before and after of your photo is also a really useful feature of Adobe Lightroom.

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Composition – Tips for a well balanced image

You’ll probably notice a theme with my photography – I like to include a lot of sky in my more scenic photographs, and I also love to take close-ups where I can play with the depth of field to make the photograph more interesting to the viewer.

As you’ll see in the below image, I’ve embraced the rule of thirds when it comes to my composition, with a decent amount of sky, a busier section in the middle of the photo and then the snowy section at the bottom. The rule of thirds allows you to achieve a well balanced photo that’s rather pleasing to look at (and makes it look like you know what you’re doing!).

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In the next three photographs, I’ve played around with depth of field to build a little more interest into the photos, rather than taking a less interesting photo from further away. I’m really pleased with the end results of these! They have all been edited with Lightroom as well – the snowy photos were quite dark before being edited!

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Natural light and how to use it to your advantage

Another of my favourite things to do – and probably a major part of my style of photography – is to play with natural light. Everyone knows that the most beautiful time of day for photography is golden hour, that last hour of light before sunset. I often go out for a quick walk at golden hour to shoot some photos and play around with lens flare and light as the main subject of my photos. As you will see in the image below, your eye is drawn to the golden light shining through the leaves, rather than the leaves themselves.

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You can also capture some pretty spectacular photos at sunset – I like to photograph the sunset through leaves or other nature to create depth of field and make the photo more interesting. These two were taken on a camping trip this year, and it was one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen!

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Portrait Photography

Now, this is a subject that I’m still learning – and I personally prefer taking photos of nature to photos of people! That being said, I do like to do a few things when taking photos of people (or having photos taken of me!).

I generally like to shoot the photos from a little distance away – not too far, but far enough to capture some of the scene around the subject. When editing photos of people, I find that less is always more, as it is far easier to make a portrait look over-edited than it is with a photograph of nature. Steer clear of making a portrait too saturated or increasing the clarity too much!

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Food, Glorious Food! – Food Photography

Food – one of the best parts of life, am I right? Food is definitely one of my favourite things in life, and I therefore enjoy taking photos of food – which is made so much easier when the food in question is beautifully presented! When I take photos of food, I like to shoot quite close to the subject to capture the detail of the ingredients. When it comes to editing food photography, I like to increase the exposure, clarity and vibrance and decrease the whites and highlights a little as needed. Food needs to look colourful and tempting, and detail is very important in this kind of photography.

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So, there are a few of my tips and tricks that I’ve picked up over the last year of playing around with my camera! Hopefully some of these tips have been useful – I’d love to know if you have any good tips for me to incorporate into my photography, so please leave a comment below!

 

*This is a paid partnership with Spot Digital for a blog post, but all views are my own.*

 

 


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