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4 Simple Steps to Great Photos

Love getting outdoors and going for hikes? When your stressed out and feeling overwhelmed do you head out to get some fresh air? How about photography? Do you like taking pictures of your adventures in the beautiful outdoors?

I know I do! That is what motivated me to write this blog post. Now, I know that I am by no means a professional photographer, I prefer to be spontaneous with my shoots, oftentimes snapping dozens of pictures of the same view over and over again until I get the perfect photo. However, this can, at times, become tedious and maybe even frustrating and so I have began looking for tips to help improve my photos.

As I have crawled the internet looking for tips and tricks I have come across some that have really helped me to improve the quality of my photos. In this blog post I aim to present a few of my findings, it is my hope that some of these tips I share will help you to begin to improve your own photo taking skills.

 

Tip 1: Use a Tripod

One of the hardest parts of taking a quality photo is making sure your image in clear and sharp. Unfortunately, when using just your hands to take photos, oftentimes involuntary shakes and muscle spasms can ruin a picture (not to mention the fact that your arms can get tired). These mistakes can be avoided simply by using a tripod.

A tripod gives extra stability to your photos as there is no concern for unwanted muscle spasms (tripods also do not get tired).  This stability allows your camera to work its magic and capture a quality image; it allows your image to come out clearer and sharper, full of more detail.

 

Tip 2: Don’t be afraid to shoot on “Continuous”

The “continuous” function on a camera is oftentimes mistaken as only useful when taking “action” shots. However, it can also be useful in getting the best shot. This idea is founded on what I like to call the “shotgun approach”.

Similar to the shotgun itself which is often looked on as a “point, shoot, and hope you hit your target” approach, the use of the “continuous” function is based on the idea that if you take enough photos your bound to get one right. In particularly challenging photo opportunities, this approach shines as you are more likely to get the best shot then if you simply took a few.

 

Tip 3: Buy quality filters or use none at all

Salespeople oftentimes try to upsell you on something you don’t’ necessarily need. The same is true when it comes to photography. A camera salesperson oftentimes will try to sell you filters that are meant to make your photos “pop”. When this happens, don’t listen!

The lenses in each camera are specially designed to work together to create quality images. If you decide to add a filter to your already established lenses then you risk the chance of getting lower quality photos. Of course, there are high quality filters available to you, however they will cost a pretty penny! So, splurge if you want, but keep in mind that oftentimes filters are obsolete when compared to quality lighting and a practiced hand.

 

Tip 4: Avoid direct sunlight

When taking outdoor photos this is a very important tip to follow. Pictures taken in excessive or “hard” light see their quality deteriorate rapidly. Light, though key in photography, needs to be moderated lest it oversaturate a photo. The best time of day to take photos (especially outdoor ones), is either at sunrise, sunset, or dusk. At these times the amount of light is optimal for the best quality photos and will make your life much easier.

In circumstances where “hard” light is unavoidable look to use a reflector to improve the quality of your photos. The key here is controlling the direction of the light, and some ways you can do this are: putting the sun behind you or waiting for a cloud to move in front of the sun. You can also use items like a gray card to the side of your lens to give you more control.

 

Well, there you have it, 4 simple tips to improve your photography skills! These tips may not be earth-shattering, but they are tired and true. As I have tried to apply these to my own photos I have seen wonderful results. Now don’t take my word for it, go out, give these tips a go and see the improvements yourself!


A Letter to the Nine-to-Fiver

If you’re like me, life moves at the speed of light. You wake up, eat breakfast, head to work, take a lunch break, head back to work, come home, have diner, relax in front of the T.V., and then head to bed. This is your routine, you follow it every day, looking forward to the weekend with great eagerness and anticipation.

When 5:00 Friday afternoon hits, you punch out and head home with excitement, “you are now free” (at least for a couple days). Throughout the week you have been looking forward to these two days, you’ve made what, in your mind, is the plans for the best weekend ever! You’re going to party until you drop, sleep as long as you want, and not worry about a thing.

Then reality sets in….

You’ve got errands to run, projects to complete, kid’s sporting events to attend, laundry to finish….

Before you know it, the weekend has flown by and your exhausted.

Where did the weekend go? What happened to your plans? How are you going to face the next week?

What do you do in these situations? Why do we do this to ourselves? How can we give ourselves a break?

The Solution: Slow Down and Enjoy the View

We have the best stress-reliver out there, it is simple, it is free; it’s nature.

Now, there are many other things that can help us relieve stress: sports, exercise, music, games (just to name a few). Some are quite wholesome; others not so much (i.e. drugs, pornography, etc.). However, it is my belief that nature; the outdoors; these are the best stress-relievers available to everyone.

Having a bad day? Go for a hike, sit under the shade of a tree, lay down a blanket and watch the clouds blow by. Enjoy the sea of color from a garden of flowers. Enjoy the strength and majesty of a forest of trees. Jane Austen put it perfectly when she said:

“‘To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure, is the most perfect refreshment.’”

Mansfield Park

Do these things, and you will break away from the world for a time, you will transport yourself to a different world, one where there is no care, no stress. This is a tried and true method; one that has been observed for Millenia.

The Greatest Gift

This world is a gift we all have been given, it is chalk-full of things that can help us relax and enjoy the simple beauty of life. All we need to do, is slow down our lightspeed lives, and give ourselves time to enjoy the world around us. If we stop, even for 15 mins, and simply enjoy the view; we will find a sense of peace that we have never experienced before. We will find our ability to focus on the important things enhanced. In the words of Sylvia Plath:

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.’”

The Bell Jar

Nature’s greatest gift for mankind is its beauty and calm. It is a gift that cannot be surpassed by commercial things; and all we need to do is stop and enjoy it.

So do yourself a favor, slow down your life; enjoy nature’s simplistic beauty, and give yourself the break you deserve. There is no need to punish yourself by racing through life and forgetting it’s true meaning: “to be happy”. In the words of Rachel Carson:

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”

Silent Spring