Do you know how to take better pictures with your DSLR camera ? In this tutorial, I’m going to show you 10 simple tips that will instantly improve your photography !
Coming up !
When I was younger, I thought that creating a epic, stunning picture required a professional-level DSLR camera. So I bought a $2000 Canon DSLR and expected to get some epic shots. Soon after, I realized that taking a great picture doesn’t really require an expensive camera. For example, if you take a normal picture from both your phone and DSLR, it’s really hard to recognize which one is taken from your phone or DSLR.
Did you see that? they’re pretty similar. Of course, there are still lots of advantages on a DSLR camera such as low-light performance, higher megapixel, dynamic range… but knowing how to master your photography skills seems to be a lot more important !!!
Now, I’m going to show you the best 10 tips and tricks you can do to improve your photography instantly !
1. Pick a right lens for your DSLR
Your camera lens will absolutely affect how your picture look like. Sometimes, you don’t really need a good camera, but you do have to get the right lens for your shots. There are two questions you need to ask yourself before figuring out which lens you actually need.
1.What is your subjects? 2.What’s your price range?
To take better pictures with your DSLR camera, you need to know what “focal length” you need. If your camera isn’t a full frame camera, then a 17-50mm lens will be a 27-80mm lens( x1.6 crop factor ). Also, the longer the focal length, the more shallow the depth of field will be. For example, if you shoot at wide open aperture F/1.8, the 85mm lens gives you more shallow depth of field than the 50mm F/1.8 lens does.
Did you see that? the background is blurrier when shooting with 85mm
Honestly, there is no one lens that’s the best lens for every situation. It all depends on what you’re shooting. If you take the exact same photo, the same framing, and just change the focal length and the distance from your subject, you will have a different look. The wider the lens is, the wider the background will be captured, and the more zoomed-in the lens is, the narrower the background will be.
Actually, you can feel how far away the subject is from your camera even if it’s the same framing. So the wide angle lens will make it feel like you’re right there with the subject. That’s why landscape photographers love to use wide angle lens to capture the entire scene. Using a longer focal length will allow you to have more objective look at the subject. If you’re planning to shoot portrait, wildlife, then you should definitely pick a lens like 85mm or 200mm.
- Portrait lens – Canon 85mm f/1.8
- Portrait lens – Canon 70-200mm f/2.8
- Landscape lens – Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 for Canon “crop sensor”
- Landscape lens – Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 for Canon “full frame”
- Read my full Canon lens review HERE
2. Stop shooting in P mode !
If you want to take better pictures with your DSLR, then please please stop shooting in automatic mode ! No matter you shoot on Sony, Canon, Nikon… almost every camera has P mode(automatic mode) and it’s so convenient to use. If you let your camera control every setting for you, then your pictures won’t look great. As a photographer. we want to have ability to control each setting on our camera such as shutter speed, aperture, ISO… That’s why we should shoot everything in M mode. Switch to the M mode so that we can move on to the next tip.
3. Keep your ISO down
I think I don’t have to explain why you should always keep your ISO down. ISO controls the brightness of your images. A high ISO allows you to capture more light. But the down side of shooting at higher ISO is that you will also get a lot of noise, which will ruin your entire photo. If you’re currently using a crop sensor DSLR, I would suggest shooting below ISO 1600.
But what if sometimes I really have to shoot at higher ISO ? The answer is “upgrade to the full frame camera” because full frame camera often offers better low-light performance. For example, the Canon 6D mark II (full frame) has approximately the same amount of noise at ISO 6400 as the Canon T7i (cropped sensor) at ISO 800. So if you want to take better pictures with a higher ISO, then upgrading to the full frame DSLR is the only way to go.
4. Shoot everything in RAW !
Shooting in RAW allows your camera to capture more information that will also give you tons of flexibilities when editing photos. You can change things like exposure, white balance, and there’s just so much more that you can do in editing process Whether you shoot on a $500 entry-level camera or a $5000 professional DSLR, they all have “RAW” Shooting in RAW also produces better dynamic range, If you still can’t decide whether you should shoot RAW or JPEG, then you can also shoot both “RAW+JPEG”
5. Slightly underexpose your pictures
Back to 10 years ago, when we were shooting on film the most important thing to do was to preserve detail in the shadows. Because if those photos got too dark, you couldn’t bring the information back. But now, digital cameras are exact opposite. You can actually underexpose your photos and then bring back a lot of detail. However, as soon as the bright parts(highlights) of your photos are overexposed, the information is completely gone, there is no way you can bring back the detail in highlights. That’s why I always like to slightly underexpose my photos. In that case, I do not lose anything !
When the highlights(bright parts) are overexposed. there is no way you can fix it.
6. Use higher F/stop
Believe it or not, a higher f/stops often produces sharper image. For example, an aperture of f/3.2 will produce a bit sharper image than an aperture of f/2.8, but this is not a major problem. You can always shoot at any f/stop when you need. I just want you to realize that if you zoom in the image, you will find out that a higher f/stop really gives you a bit sharper results.
You can always look at some pictures in magazines, watch movies and see how they are framed. When I started photography, I can’t even take a good pictures by looking through the viewfinder. Because the viewfinder is just so tiny, it’s really hard to capture the frame we want. But if you keep practicing and practicing, soon your eye will get used to framing and you’ll know what looks good. If what you see inside the viewfinder is good, then the photo is also gonna be good !
8. Take a lot of pictures
One day if you walk up to a beautiful waterfall and you lift your camera and snap a photo of it, then that photo is gonna be great. But you’re not the first person who has captured that photograph, so you have to start looking around and find new interesting perspectives. You should take a lot of pictures with different angle, different focal length, and that’s how you make your crafts stand out than someone else’s.
9. Use Lightroom preset
Lightroom is photographer’s must-use software. If you’re not using lightroom to edit your photos, what are you doing ??? Lightroom allows you to color grade your photos in millions of variations ways. You can change the white balance, exposure, hue, saturation, contrast, tone… There are just so many thing you can do in this software. Lightroom “preset” is just like an Instagram filter, you can easily edit your photos with “one click” So using presets is one of the best ways to edit your photos. By the way, if you’re interested, you can check out our own presets. They’re super LIT !!!
Check out our Lightroom presets HERE
10. Keep experiencing and practicing !
The final tip I want to give you is “Keep experiencing and practicing your photography” No one becomes a good photographer overnight. These professional photographers also started from zero. They just kept experiencing different things, and that’s how they progressed. If you’re really really passionate about photography, then not thing is stopping you. Just pick up your camera and start to take a lot of photos NOW !