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Photography in three steps: The Gumtree Guide

Tuesday 24 February 2015, by
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If you fancy yourself as the next Diane Arbus or David Bailey but your expertise is currently limited to the ownership of a DSLR camera, Gumtree is here to help. In three simple steps we can teach everything you need to know about your camera and the basic photography techniques you’ll need to know before you get snapping.

STEP ONE: HOW YOUR CAMERA WORKS

There’s no better place for a budding photographer to pick up a bargain DSLR than Gumtree and once you’ve got your hands on your new camera you’ll want to test it out. Reading the manual before you take your first photo is a good idea but they can be overly technical and difficult to understand at first. The good news is you don’t need to know everything about your camera to start taking photos, however, the more you know, the better photographer you’ll be.

A is for Aperture

The aperture is the adjustable opening that lets the light in through the lens. A wide aperture will allow more light through. Arguably this is the most important thing to understand if you want to start taking better photos. Having the camera in ‘automatic mode’ is fine for holiday snaps but won’t get you very far elsewhere.

Don’t fall into the trap of using a wider aperture to compensate for poor light conditions as this will affect the amount of the image that will be in focus. This is called a shallow depth of field and can be useful for portrait photography as everything in the frame other than the subject will be blurred. On the other hand, you can use a narrow aperture for landscapes, where you want everything in the frame to be in focus.

F-stops

The size of the aperture is adjusted by twisting the lens and each position is measured in f-stops, the smaller the number the wider the aperture.

There’s an old saying amongst photographers: f/8 and be there. Meaning, you’ve got more chance of catching the shot if you keep your camera set to f/8. This is useful to remember when taking photographs on the fly, or if you’re looking for that one in a million, once in a lifetime shot. F/8 is the middle ground and therefore ‘safest’ position for your lens to be in.

STEP TWO: ACCESSORIES

It’s easy to get bogged down with all the potential extras that are available to photographers, however there are some things that you should consider as part of your kit if you want to start taking better photos.

Tripod

If you are taking photos at night or using a slower shutter speed it’s essential to keep the camera absolutely still. Using a tripod means never having to worry about camera shake ruining your otherwise perfectly composed photo. Have a browse on Gumtree to find your perfect tripod.

Spare battery

There’s nothing worse than setting up the perfect picture then having your camera die on you. Keep a spare battery in your camera bag and never worry about missing the perfect shot. There are plenty of spare batteries on Gumtree, just make sure you pick the right one for your camera.

External drive

You should always back up your photos as you never know what can happen. If you have at least two digital copies of each picture you’re a lot less likely to lose them should something happen to one of your storage solutions. There are always plenty of External drives available on Gumtree.

Polariser Filter

The polariser filter will reduce reflections and really bring out the blue in the sky and is the perfect beginners filter. The advantage of using a filter over post-production techniques that give the same effect is that digitally altered images are always much less convincing. Pick up a bargain polarising filter on Gumtree.

Dust blower

While this isn’t exactly essential, it’s definitely a worthwhile investment as dust can affect the quality of your pictures if you let it build up on your lens.

STEP THREE: TECHNIQUE

Exposure and focus

If you half press the shutter release your camera will fix the exposure and focus settings for the shot. You can then compose the shot perfectly in the knowledge that your settings are set for the perfect exposure.

The rule of thirds

Perfect compositions are the subject of many a late night debate and really there is no such thing as a rule for perfectly composing a shot as every situation is different however, obeying the rule of thirds will give you the most chance of capturing an aesthetically pleasing shot. To observe the rule of thirds, horizons should ideally be positioned a third up or down the frame while people should be positioned in the left or right third of the frame.

Lighting your subject

You can even out the harsh contrast created when shooting in natural light by reflecting the incoming light onto the unlit side of your subject using a large sheet of white card or paper. You can of course pick up cheap lights on Gumtree however this is an especially useful technique if you are out and about. Your subject can even hold the reflector themselves as long as their hand is out of shot.

Get creative

Sometimes you’ll find yourself taking a photo you know isn’t that original. If this is the case consider new ways to take the picture. One technique is to get up close and personal to create an abstract crop of your subject.

Photography can be a hugely rewarding and creative pastime but there’s a tendency for costs to escalate the more seriously you begin to take it. With so much kit to consider it’s well worth remembering that there’s always loads of bargain photography equipment to peruse right here on Gumtree and if you need to raise funds for that all important new lens selling your old and unwanted kit is a great way to do it. You can find out how easy selling on Gumtree is here


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