Monday, March 07, 2005

Capturing your Subject

Capturing a subject is the most important aspect of taking a picture; if you don't have a subject, you don't have a picture. As the old adage goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words," where how do you get words without a subject?

Well, how does a photographer go about framing their subject for picture? It helps if you have a good definition of a subject. A subject is the focal point of your picture, whether it is a small or large part of the photo is up to you, but once you find the subject, it's up to you to take that perfect picture.

Just how do you do that though?

As the Boy Scouts coined, "Be prepared." Know your camera in and out. Make sure you have all the necessary accessories with you to make sure you don't lose out on a shot. Extra batteries, battery charger, more film or a larger memory card, lens' cloth, and/or a tripod.

Once you find your setting, where you're going to take pictures, make sure the lighting is right for the occasion. Improper lighting can kill even the most perfect shots that you can take the time to take right. If possible, try to scope out the location prior to taking shots at it, that way you can know where the lighting is just right. Before taking the picture, make sure you know where the light is, because lighting directly behind you is always bad for a picture. Depending on how you take a picture from the side or front, it can make the picture very interesting. Always avoid bright, direct sunlight; it'll not only make for a bad picture but can often damage the lens.

If using some sort of background, for object or people photographs make sure it is quite simple and solid colors. Blacks, whites, dark blues and greens all work well and go with a variety of colors as long as they do not clash with the objects' color or the person's clothing. Shooting a subject in the foreground will give depth from a variety of angles will give you various shadows and depth to the photograph.

A must for a good subject photograph is to make sure the picture is sharp, crisp, as if the picture could leap up at you from the paper itself. Using a tripod, which will keep the camera completely stable, will make sure the photo does not get taken blurry. It will stabilize the shot, if you can't use a tripod though; you can stabilize the camera by bending you arm tight against your body while holding the camera or leaning against a wall or other solid surface. If your camera has auto-focus, most have some sort of auto-focus, and that will help a great deal without the extra measures to be taken; however, when in doubt, take the extra steps to get a crisp, clear picture.

When deciding on what to shoot, make sure your picture answers the "five w's" you learned in elementary school: Who, what, where, when and why. Take photos in sequence, if you can, from beginning to end so that they flow like a storyboard. Change locations often, taking the same photo, from a variety of angles. Look for specifics in the pictures you take to capitalize on in capturing the subject.

Create interesting photos by making sure the subject, backgrounds, colors and lighting all work together to make the perfect photograph. By positioning your shot off center, the subject that is, you might get an angle of the subject much more pleasing to the eye. It will also add focus to that subject. Zooming also does wonders, as close-ups of particular objects or sceneries bring out details lost to the eye. Different perspectives also bring out details lost to the eye looking at a picture straight on.

Experiment with your camera settings to find out what you can do with it; then, you can take lots of photos with different effects, focuses and what-not. Try taking pictures of people in their natural environment, when they aren't looking or when they are looking. Find different ways to look at things, and then from that perspective, take a picture.

Find a subject, take its picture, and then take it a million more times from every perspective, angle, camera setting, color, lighting and any other feature you can think of and then do it again in black and white. Do it again and again until every photo you take captures the subject in exactly the right light, so that you can take the camera and capture the perfect picture on every day and at any time.

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