Photography is an art form that grew exponentially over the past decade. Like other arts, there are some basic lessons. Learning those basics and practicing them can dramatically improve your photographs.
Have you ever looked at a stunning photo and wished you could take one like that? Wondered why even everyday objects look spectacular on some photographs? They probably got their basics right. The route to being a good photographer is to know the technique and then shoot photos using those techniques. Lots of them.
Let’s get you equipped with all that you would ever need to create great photographs. Of course, you do need a camera and a willingness to try and improve your skills, but just the fact that you are reading this means that you probably have the latter taken care of!
The Internet is a great resource to learn about the science of Photography. You can meet amazing photographers on Flickr or 500px, where you can learn and get inspired by their work. You could even get in touch with them and ask for suggestions and feedback on your shots.
There are many amazing blogs where photographers share their knowledge and their work. Let’s take a look at a few of them from.
Digital Photography School or DPS can be your perfect elementary school in photography. Authored chiefly by ‘ProBlogger’ Darren Rowse, DPS has a huge collection of articles for all sorts of Photographers. DPS also features professional photographers who share their findings during their recent projects.
The Critique My Shot forum on DPS, is an attraction for newbie and amateur photographers. You can post your pictures and have them reviewed by other photographers and improve upon their suggestions. Challenge yourself by taking part in a DPS weekly assignment and see how you stack up against other photographers in the community!
Richard Schneider launched PictureCorrect in 2003 as a photo editing service, but soon converted it into a blog for sharing photography tips. Today, PictureCorrect has grown into a huge photography resource with many professional photographers sharing their insights and tips that you can make use of.
PictureCorrect also has a social network for photographers – PictureSocial. You can join in for free and connect with other photography enthusiasts and share your work. There is no better way to learn than to have your work critiqued by other photographers.
Even though the name says ‘Advanced’, Advanced Photography or APN (N comes from the .net in the domain name), has a huge collection of tutorials that cater to all sorts of photographers; beginners, hobbyists and professionals. The author Shivanand Sharma, a serious hobby photographer, runs the blog with help from other contributors as well.
Tools of the Trade
When photos were taken using traditional film cameras, the films or negatives were sent to color labs for post-processing. The lab technicians adjusted the color and saturation of the photos so that they looked great once printed. Post-processing is inevitable for digital photography as well.
Modern day digital cameras have amazing software built into the camera hardware, so that the picture looks great right out of the camera. However, this might not give you the result you had in mind. That means it’s time to process your images in an image editing software. Some cameras ship with post processing software on a CD; if your camera came with one, install it and learn to use it. Quite often, it is the post-processing that makes a picture sensational.
Photoshop and Lightroom are the most popular choices for professional photographers when it comes to post-processing. Unless you have deep pockets, purchasing one of these might burn a hole in your pants.
Lucky for us, there are many free photo-editing tools on the Internet. Lets take a look at a few of them here.
BeFunky is a popular photo editing application that runs in your browser. It’s free to use and you do not have to go through the pain of creating an account! With BeFunky, you can do whole lot of editing like adjusting the hue and saturation, control exposure and lots more. And when you feel creative enough, you can apply special effects and some cute graphics. BeFunky also has iPhone and Android Apps, which you can download to your phone and edit the photos on your mobile.
VintageJS does only one thing, it adds a retro-look to your photos. And it does it well. Similar to BeFunky, VintageJS works in your browser and doesn’t require you to create an account. Once you upload an image you can move some sliders and decide how old you want to make your picture look. The ‘Through The Viewfinder’ switch adds the black grungy border to your picture making it look as if it was shot with a heavy vintage camera.
If you loved the editors discussed so far, then PicMonkey will blow your mind. To start with, the website itself is beautifully crafted and is a visual treat. At PicMonkey, you can either edit individual photos, or put them together into beautiful collages. The photo editor comes with a whole set of basic editing tools and filters. You can add text, graphic overlays and borders, all with a few clicks.
An interesting section of PicMoney is its touch up tools. Want a picture that makes you look younger for your Facebook page? Now you know the secret! Talking about Facebook, the collage maker in PicMonkey has layouts for creating Facebook cover images too!
If you ever wanted to be popular, this is your chance. PhotoFunia can get your photo printed on a huge billboard! Well, at least in a photo. This online tool comes with a huge collection of filters and creative effects for your photographs. You can convert your photos to sketches, appear to be painted on busy streets and huge advertising boards, and even show up as Mona Lisa. Try editing pictures with friends and you could end up having loads of fun!
Pixlr and Pixlr-o-matic
Pixlr is more like Photoshop on your browser. Once you figure out how to handle the tools Pixlr has to offer, you have amazing artistic power in your hands. Pixlr, like Photoshop, supports layer based editing and even stores an editing history so that you can switch back to an earlier point in time. Unlike other tools, Pixlr takes some getting used to, but you have fine tuned control over the result. Or you can simply use Pixlr Express and go the easy route.
Another fun offering from Pixlr is Pixlr-o-matic. Like some other tools mentioned here, Pixlr-o-matic has lots of interesting vintage and retro filters and useful effects. The images appear to be washed and cut in a darkroom, mimicking the development of traditional photographic film.
Both Pixlr and Pixlr-o-matic provide desktop and mobile applications and browser extensions, all available for free download!
Let’s get started?
You have your camera and now you have to tools. Something’s missing, don’t you think? The photos! All of these will not make you a good photographer unless you shoot pictures, so get out there and start clicking. And do not forget to share your favorite shots with us. Happy snapping!
We just recently launched the Photolia theme, a WordPress theme that allows photographers to showcase their portfolio beautifully in a blog-style layout with awesome custom photo grids.