Better photography. Create astonishment with your own photos. That is the goal of many amateur photographers. In this article I will show you how to take pictures where even “non-photographers” realize that they would not have been able to do it themselves this way.
How did the idea for this article come about? Some days ago I had a new photo assignment. Food photography in an inn was on the agenda. And pictures of the house inside and outside. Something I’ve done several times before and that I really enjoy.
A challenge with such assignments is always to make something extraordinary out of normal food and a normal restaurant.
Especially photos of the premises could already be seen on the website. So there was something like a benchmark. My photos had to get better.
Before the shooting I thought about it a bit and an important question came up for me. How do I shoot photos where the customer says afterwards: “I would never have been able to do that myself”? Or “Wow, how did he do that?”
I came up with a lot of ideas and this article is the result. Here they are, the 7 ways to take amazingly good photos.
First of all: The following photo tips and tricks are less for portraits, but more for product photography, food, landscapes etc.
1: Choose exciting perspectives
People who have never been more deeply involved in photography shoot their photos almost exclusively standing up, regardless of whether they are photographing children, landscapes or buildings. No recipe for amazing photos.
So for me, trying out different perspectives is a basic recipe for better photos. Especially extremes work out wonderfully. So I can lie on the ground and take froggy-eye pictures or stand on a chair and aim at food from above. The result is photos that may show everyday subjects in a way most people never see.
Let the amazement begin 🙂
2: Overcoming technical hurdles with HDR
I like to use HDR (High Dynamic Range) when there are difficult lighting situations. Especially when the contrast range in the image detail becomes so large that an exposure inevitably results in areas that are too dark or overexposed. This simply does not look good if the windows are totally overexposed in an indoor shot. The combination of several shots makes it possible to get difficult light situations onto the image sensor as desired.
3: A solid composition
Rule of thirds, golden section and what they are all called. A good composition is essential to produce a photo and not a snapshot.
These rules do have a meaning. Positioning the motif outside the centre in the golden section or on the third lines (see photo below this paragraph). Other interesting tools for amazing photos are diagonals. Like for example well used diagonals like in the first photo of this article.
Especially for commissioned work, besides following and breaking generally accepted design rules, another factor is important: Clarify before the shooting what the photos are to be used for. Especially when used on the web or in print products, it can happen that a certain aspect ratio is predetermined by the layout. Stupid, if you as a photographer stand on portrait format and shoot everything like this. And afterwards it turns out that the image material on the website is to be used as a horizontal teaser image.
A good composition starts with the motif itself. If you explore the motive exactly, look at it from all sides and perspectives, you will perceive this motive completely different than the untrained snapshot photographer. This gives you the opportunity to get this special view of the motif into your picture. The result is an amazing photo.
For me, composition also means to control exactly what I am photographing. A hair on the food, the tripod or the photo backpack in the background, unwanted wrinkles in the clothes or uncontrolled flying hair strands in portraits and so on. Those who thoughtlessly take pictures of what is in front of the camera will regularly experience nasty surprises. Long Photoshop sessions are the price the photographer pays. I have also paid it several times 😉
4: Playing with the light
The first thought when you get a tip on lighting may be that it involves complicated lighting setups. This is one possibility. Enfessselt Blitzen gives you the freedom to create your own lighting reality. But in order to be able to implement your ideas really well, this technique requires some practice. More about Unleashed Blitzen.
Even more important is a look at what makes “beautiful” natural light and how you find it. Contrary to the widespread opinion that when photographing outdoors, the sun should always be behind the photographer, it is exactly photos with a little backlight that become especially interesting.
Besides the direction of the light, the brightness of the light is also relevant. Dark and bright areas in the picture direct the view of the observer similar to sharpness and blurriness. The attention is usually first where the brightest area in the picture is. In general, there should be sufficient brightness in all areas of the picture so that there are no black, underexposed areas with no drawing.
Light can be either hard or soft. Hard light comes from a very small light source and casts hard shadows. Soft light comes from a large light source and casts few to hardly any shadows. Depending on the desired effect, the light source should be chosen.
5: Use extreme focal lengths
Technology clearly plays a role here. Extreme wide-angle lenses create an image effect that is completely different from human perception. This alone creates a certain attention with these photos.
A normal compact camera doesn’t have a 16mm wide angle, nor does the kit lens of an entry-level DSLR.
If you use your focal length correctly AND go to an extreme that normal amateur photographers don’t usually use, you will get results that will amaze the viewer.
By the way, I have found that a photo with an extreme wide-angle focal length looks much more extraordinary than a photo with a long telephoto focal length. Although, of course, a strong telephoto lens also allows photos that are impossible with the kit lens.
6: Sharp or out of focus?
Playing with blur is appealing and makes an impression. Also because a nice bokeh with a compact is not feasible for the snapshot photographer.
A very sharp picture of a frog. It was taken with a 400mm focal length and then digitally resharped. For compact photographers a difficult to impossible photo to realize.
Sharpness and unsharpness directs the viewer’s gaze. The main subject should be photographed sharpest, because the eye tends to want to look at these sharp areas first. Blur helps to distinguish important from unimportant areas. A picture with many individual elements, all of which are very sharp, quickly looks overloaded and the eye doesn’t know where to look.
Equally amazing is the “amazement” effect in a crisp photo, where the focus is exactly where it should be. The secret of success for super-sharp photos: very precise handling of the autofocus, use of a tripod and – also very important – digital resharpening for the respective output medium.
7: Colours – saturation and white balance
Colours create atmosphere in the image. It doesn’t matter whether the colours are reproduced 1:1 exactly or whether they are altered by filters or digitally. Used deliberately, colours can turn a photo into something very special.
You can take the artistic freedom and interpret the colours very freely or show the colours as they are. The lifelike reproduction has to be learned. When artificial light in different colours and natural light come together in a scene, it becomes exciting.
A photo becomes particularly amazing when the colours fit together harmoniously, when there is sufficient contrast and when the colours support the desired statement. I usually want to depict food in a very appetizing, healthy or spicy way. Colours play an important role.
Or no colours at all? Black and white photography still has its charm and gives an exclusive, artistic impression.
The ideas and techniques for amazing photos described here should encourage you to try out different things and constantly expand your photographic bag of tricks. It’s really worth it!
This list can certainly be extended quite a bit. Have you found a trick that makes your photos “different” and especially interesting? Show your work on the BF Facebook page!