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Being a photographer, as an amateur or for a living, can be highly enjoyable. It is one of those pursuits where you are able to create something and have a record of it for as long as you want to. Indeed, if you can make some money out of it, photography can be one of the most enjoyable things in the world. There are many beneficial aspects to it as a career and as a hobby.
For one thing, there is the opportunity to make really good money if you are a talented enough photographer. For organizations and groups who hire a photographer – modelling agencies, advertising companies and even families with a special occasion on the horizon, a good photographer is worth paying top dollar.
If you do make a living from photography, the chances are that you will also get to travel and see some of the most beautiful sights in the world. Admittedly, you'll see a lot of them through a viewfinder and this leaves less time to really appreciate them, but on your down time you can see the best of the world.
And there is also the advantage for an amateur that if you are taking photographs, you do not have to spend as much time on the other side of the camera with other people taking photographs of you. If you are shy, this is certainly good news, and it is also reassuring if you just aren't photogenic. It beats having to smile and pose, too.
So, are you proud to be a photographer?
Unless you have been hiding in a cave somewhere, you are probably familiar with Photoshop to at least some extent. Even if you have not used it, you will have seen photos that have been manipulated using this program, which has become a feature of many websites in recent years. The basic idea of Photoshop is that it can be used to enhance or add to a real photo.
For example, if a picture has been taken which, on closer inspection, carries traces of something that the viewer “should not see” - for example, blotches on the face of someone in the photo, or a stain on the carpet – the use of Photoshop can remove that undesired intruder. Similarly, Photoshop can be used to add things such as color or light.
A more esoteric use of Photoshop can be seen on countless sites around the Internet where photographs are deliberately and obviously manipulated for (usually) comedic effect. Whether it is putting someone else's head on the body of an animal (or another person), placing a person against a background with comic potential or creating the impression that someone is a hundred feet tall, this is a popular pastime.
You may love or hate Photoshop. Some people will use it to enhance their own photographs before putting them on social networking sites, and create the impression that they are more attractive than they really are. This may not have been the initial purpose of the program, but people will use it how they wish.
Color photography was actually invented a lot longer ago than most people believe – indeed, there were experimental color shots taken as long ago as the 19th century. However, the use of color photography was hugely uncommon until the 1960s, and it was another few decades after that before newspapers printed color shots with any kind of regularity.
This – combined with the presence of old-fashioned black and white movies – gives an impression of age and for some people an impression of depth to photographs taken these days using black and white film or filters. Many of the iconic photographs of all time, taken as they were in the early half of the 20th century, are known to us in black and white.
One of the most famous images – the assassination of President John F Kennedy, an incident that took place in 1963 – happened after color photography was introduced, but before it was widespread and before color photographs could be widely reproduced. Hence, it is an incident we “remember” in black and white.
Photographs of the first Moon Landing do exist in color, but the most iconic – of Neil Armstrong descending the ladder onto the Moon's surface – is also in black and white. Whether it is for reasons of historic grandeur, or because of the questions left unasked, many people even in this age of color photography still like to use black and white for more artistic shots.
Even in the light of all the changes that have taken place over the years, allowing us to take more photographs in a shorter space of time and to publish them within seconds, the fact is that sometimes less is more. You will not become a good photographer by taking a lot of photographs. You will never win the Tour de France on a bicycle with training wheels.
What this means for amateur photographers is that, just because it is easier to take a photograph these days, it does not mean that you can replace quality with quantity. It is better to critically survey your photographs, delete the ones that don't pass muster, and keep in mind what you got wrong initially and how you can get it right next time.
You see, if you just snap away in the hope of getting the right shot, you are as likely to get twenty shots of which maybe five will be good enough to be considered “decent”. If, on the other hand, you take the time to get it right, you can get five photos of which all are impressive. Making the effort to get the shot right gives the shot a sense of occasion.
Photography is not easy, and anyone who attempts to claim otherwise is being either naïve or ignorant. Getting the right shot makes demands of a photographer, and the sooner you learn to meet those demands, the easier you will find it as time goes on.
There are many people who want to become professional photographers, and there is plenty of reason why they would. If you are a highly sought-after photographer, then you can get paid a lot of money to travel the world taking photographs of stunning locations, beautiful people and remarkable occasions. So is it worth getting a qualification in photography?
The answer to this question, frustratingly, is “it might be”. When you get down to it, there are not so many companies or agencies who will demand that you have a certificate to prove you can take photographs. The best way to document a talent for photography is by showing the photographs that you have taken. That said, doing a photography course may help in other ways.
It cannot be denied that, if you take a course in photography that is taught by a professional who has worked worldwide, you should learn a lot from them and may also be able to make contacts in the business. There is a major difference between being able to take impressive photographs, and being able to get the perfect shot when you are on the clock and conditions are being unkind.
It is not so much the certificate that will be given to you on graduation that will be important, but the things that you learn during the course. There are all sorts of tricks that can make a photograph look better, and make a good photograph great. Informing yourself about these is worth the effort.
Taking a good photograph is about so many things, far more than just pointing the camera when you see a scene worth preserving. If you want to get an image that will be looked at and remarked upon by all who look at it, you really have to create an impression of “being there”. This is all the more difficult if you are taking photographs of live action rather than still life.
If you go to a sports match, for example, it is perfectly understandable that you will want to capture some images of it to look at later on and to show to your friends. However, you are competing with a lot of different factors to get a really good picture of the occasion. There is the fact that a moving target is harder to catch, there is the problem of a crowd which is unlikely to be keeping still, and often there is an issue of lighting.
Without a doubt, someone wanting to get good action shots will need the right shutter speed – faster action will require a faster shutter speed in order to avoid becoming too blurred. On the other hand, some blurring can be beneficial in conveying the action that is taking place. How you position the camera, and even how you move it, will play an important part.
Timing is of course the central issue when it comes to capturing action shots. If, for example, you are watching a basketball match, you can get a good feel for motion by taking a photograph of something that cannot happen without motion. Snapping a photo of someone hitting a slam dunk – an image that can only happen while the person is in motion - is one good way of doing this.
If you are a social networker, then the chances are that you have seen more bad photographs than you would ever care to remember. People are more prone these days to take a photograph than they used to be, and the reason for this – or at least, the primary reason – is that they can take photographs and see them instantly without having to pay for them.
The invention of the camera phone was a pivotal moment for cell phone companies, who have been able to sell loads of phones on the strength of their multiple usability. It has also resulted in people being willing to take a lot more photographs than they used to be. Time was that you needed a camera, plenty of film and a lot of patience to take photographs.
You see, once you had used a frame of film, you couldn't delete it and you were stuck with it. And when you had used the whole film you needed to carefully remove it from the camera so that it didn't get light on it, and take it to be developed (either at a dedicated outlet or in your own dark room, if you had the facilities). The whole process would cost money.
Now, if the photo you take is bad, you can delete it – but many people don't. A lot of online photo streams now have lots of blurry images of someone's right knee because the photographer was drunk and using a phone to take the pictures. With progress, sometimes, you have to accept the bad with the good.
In simple terms, composition refers to the systematic arrangement of objects for a particular purpose or to achieve a specific result. This aspect is important in the field of photography and in essence it refers to the arrangement to object within the view finder with the aim of emphasizing certain aspects. This composition process may be done to bring out an object(s), the foreground or background. For instance sometimes you may view a picture that has a blurred background or slightly obscured main object and this may have been done intentionally so as to bring out a particular effect or highlight another object.
Composing a picture is usually done at the discretion of the person taking a picture and most compositions are simple and only highlight the main object captured. In some cases the composition may be a bit abstract or asymmetric in nature which may be done by the photographer for a specific reason.
Composition basically adds value to captured images by highlighting the main objects in a manner that makes pictures esthetically appealing. You may have the best camera equipment that money can buy but if you cannot arrange captured objects accordingly through the viewfinder, the results will be less than favorable.
Once you are able to compose a photograph well, the resulting images will turn out as intended on most occasions; while for those who are still unable to compose well will need to several pictures before achieving the desired result.
Composition of a picture also involves proper use of light and color. In the day time when outdoors, positioning yourself well and using the sunlight and ambient colors well can make the difference between an ordinary picture and an excellent one. Colors, sunlight, texture and shadows can enhance object well and even add a great 3D effect.
The right picture composition can be achieved by using a basic rule of thumb which involves the division of any image (as seen on the viewfinder) into three equal horizontal portions (sometimes referred to as the thirds rule). This will give any object a sense of balance and this will help you capture the right proportions of the subject. With a little practice it is possible to significantly improve your picture composition skills by using the 'thirds rule' as well as locating the main subject and deciding which angle and viewpoint will best bring it out best.
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