Photo Cheat Sheet from Hamburger Fotospots

Trying to learn how the camera works can be daunting. I teach beginning, intermediate and advanced classes and even though there are only a few settings, the combinations of settings and variables make for a wide variety of options and results. My students often retake classes so they can continue to practice and pick up information they missed the first time around.

This cheat card from Daniel Peters at http://blog.hamburger-fotospots.de/kostenloser-download-foto-cheatcard-fuer-fotografen/ is a good basic start. It shows the basics of how ISO, aperture and shutter speed will affect the picture. Aperture affects how much of the image will be sharp based on where you focus, shutter speeds affects if the image is sharp or blurry and the ISO affects grain in the image. It’s a cool beginning tool all in one diagram.

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Moving In

Oftentimes you’ll see a cool scene but you’re unsure how to frame it. Or you’re afraid the subject may move and ruin the moment. I highly recommend starting wide and narrowing down your vision. Try different perspectives, vertical, horizontal. Start wide and move in. Move around the subject or scene and try different angles and backgrounds. Spend some time, don’t grab a quick snap and then run off, you might miss the key shot.

In this sequence I really liked the guy playing guitar. I grabbed a quick shot from a distance, but the guy in the background is quite distracting.

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As I moved in closer he didn’t notice me or wasn’t concerned and kept playing, so I got in closer and did a full frame shot of him playing.

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Then I tried a horizontal shot since that seemed like the natural composition with him squatting down and the guitar is horizontal, but I wasn’t overly fond of the trash can.

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Then I returned to what I liked in the initial image, using the sign in the image.  It provides an anchor for the guitarist and places him in the scene. Notice that I moved in and out and changed the perspective from horizontal to vertical in order to find the composition that I liked best.

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In this second sequence with the fence lizard I was afraid he’d run off. I didn’t want him to see my shadow so I started from a distance away and grabbed a quick shot.

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Then I gradually moved closer. Each time I’d grab a few more shots, never take just one, take a few to make sure you get a sharp one!

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He seemed to be tolerating me well so I got even closer.

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After shooting a bunch more I decided to try changing my angle to him. He was quite cooperative and I got a better angle with the light on his face.

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So if you see something cool, take your time and move in bit by bit, then try various angles to see if one pops out better than the others. You won’t always get lucky, but most of the time your hard work and patience will pay off!