Having a passion for photography is the first requirement to improve your photography. It will be your passion for photography that will get you out of bed at 5 AM to capture that epic sunrise shot.
You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to capture great images. A camera with manual functions and interchangeable lenses is an ideal starting point. You can now purchase a quality entry level SLR for under $1000 NZ. The camera lens is equally if not more important than the camera itself. Having one or two quality lenses is better than having four or five average ones. Also choose a lens that will suit your style. For example if shooting landscapes or astrophotography you want a wide-angle lens (24mm or less). If shooting wildlife or sport you will want a fast zoom lens (100mm +). The final piece of equipment I would recommend is a sturdy tripod.
Once comfortable with using your camera in automatic, start experimenting with manual modes. Learn the fundamentals of aperture, shutter and ISO:
Aperture – Refers to the opening in the lens through which light passes. It is written as numbers such as 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11 etc. The lower number gives more exposure because they represent the larger apertures, while the higher number give less exposure because they represent smaller apertures. Aperture also affects the depth of field. It is all a little confusing to start with but becomes second nature with practice.
Shutter – The shutter speed determines how long shutter remains open as the picture is taken. The slower the shutter speed, the longer the exposure time. The faster the shutter speed the shorter the exposure time. For example a fast shutter freezes action for sports etc. A slow shutter can be used to slow the action, great for those dreamy waterfall photographs etc.
ISO – Measures the sensitivity of the image sensor. The lower the ISO number (eg100) the less sensitive your camera is to light and the finer the grain. As you increase your ISO the more sensitive your camera is to light and the more grain introduced to the image.
For more information on these fundamentals check out improvephotography.com
Getting creative with composition is one of the most important yet often overlooked factors. Spend time composing your image and seeking a unique perspective. It might mean lying on the ground, standing on a ladder or getting your feet wet. Perspective costs nothing and can make the difference between an average and an amazing shot.
Get to know your software, there are plenty of great programs and most are affordable. I recommend Lightroom and once you gain more experience Photoshop is a great addition. Youtube is also an excellent learning resource. YouTube channels such as Phlearn and Lynda.com offer a variety of tutorials and generally these are free!
I hope these tips help and wish you all the best with your photography adventure. Any questions or for one on one tuition contact me here.