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  • Joe & Jennifer Mackey

Photography Tips For The At Home Photographer - JCM Photography Asheville

Hello JCM friends and fam! This month we wanted to touch on photography tips for the at home photographer. Whether you're an aspiring photographer looking to make it big one day, just shoot a little here and there, or simply trying to take some nice photos of your family with the camera that your hubby got you for Christmas ;)

There are literally hundreds of things we could talk about, but we want to make it easy and not overwhelm you, afterall it's important that you enjoy the process. That being said we were going to cover 2 particular sections of getting into photography that will hopefully save you many potential headaches in the long run and ultimately start you on the road to improving your photos!

1) Get out of "auto" mode!!!

"But it's the only setting where my photos actually look decent!" We hear it all the time, and we'd be lying if we told you we've never used it in the past when we were just getting our feet wet. Auto is great for simple pictures in the absolutely right conditions, however it does have some limitations. Most camera models are set with this option and putting your camera in this mode basically allows your camera to interpret the outside world for you (I.E. lighting - soft vs hard; shadows, white balance, and depth of field). When it's interpretation is great, there's a better chance your photo will be as well. However, when your camera doesn't see the outside world as your eyes do (happens to the best of us) the end result will not be what you are looking for.

We would reccomend experimenting with shutter priority mode and aperture priority mode. It will take some work, and at times you will wonder, 'what the heck am I doing?' but in the end your photos will thank you for it. You've likely spent a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on your camera depending on your level of commitment and interest, why not spend the little bit of extra time reading about how to use it? Which brings us to our next section!

2) Learn to master the big 4!!!

Now that you've decided to make the commitment to shooting in shutter priority or aperture priority, or heck even manual mode, it's time to learn about the big 4 that you can manipulate to enhance the quality of your photos.

**Aperture - To give you the quickest and simplest version of our lesson on aperture, a smaller f-stop # equates to a larger aperture and a bigger f-stop # equates to a smaller aperture (I.E. F1.2 = large aperture & F16 = small aperture). Aperture is going to control the amount of light that is able to get into your lense. Too much light can be a bad thing and too little can as well. Mastering the aperture setting for the right shot in the right situation will make all the difference in the world! Just a quick tip to get you started, if it is sunny out, or there is a spot with plenty of light, try utilizing a smaller aperture (higher number) and if there is lower light, trying utilzing a larger aperture (lower number). Once you get comfortable playing with this setting, which may take a while, you will soon find that you are able to adjust on the fly which is something you will absolutely need to be able to do if you ever plan on shooting an event or a wedding.

**Shutter Speed - shutter speed refers to how fast or slow the shutter opens and closes letting light in. In laymens terms, this is how fast the camera captures the image. If you're trying to capture something in motion, you may want to shoot with a faster shutter speed something like 1/250 or higher. If your subject is going to be relatively stationary, you may find success with a shutter speed below this setting. On the extreme end of the spectrum you have advanced techniques like capturing blurred motion of water flowing, in which you would want to utilize a slower shutter speed such as 1/6 or lower.

**ISO - ISO is where people can get confused but if your still with us bare with this next section as we will try to make it a short and as sweet as possible. What you need to know as the at home photographer is ISO basically measures the sensitvity to light. For simplicity, a lower ISO of let's say 200 would likely be good for a situation where there's plenty of light. Conversely, when shooting in dim lighting, you will likely find that a higher ISO of around 800 might yield a better photo. Another thing to consider is that the higher the ISO (i.e. more sensitive) the less light needed to capture the same exposure (i.e you maybe able to get away with 1/250 at ISO 200 and going to 1/500 would allow you to get the same exposure with ISO 400). NOTE: shooting with your ISO on the higher end 800 or above, cane somtimes lead to photos appearing grainy, depending on a host of factors, but this is something to keep your eye out for.

**White Balance - White balance helps to ensure that the whites are white in your pictures and the colors are proper. More specifically, adjusting the white balance of your camera properly will help prevent photos from having that awful blue or yellow tone to them. Most DSLR camera will come with white balanc settings, and yours will likely be set to auto white balance, which may work for many situations but you will soon find that there is a time and place for the others and thankfully, most of them are self explanatory when diving into to your camera's settings.

We hope this wasn't too much information and for those of you really looking for improve your photos, these two tips are the ticket to moving towards high quality digital images. The more you shoot, the more you will find these settings easier to understand as every situation is truly unique and will likely call for you to manipulate all of these to end up with the master piece you're hoping to snap!

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