Photography is a very interesting and satisfying hobby that an individual can develop at any stage of his or her life. It begins with buying a camera and then there is no end to what one can do with it. Personally, I love taking pictures of just about everything, it may be of my family, my children preferably in natural surroundings and settings without posing but the best subject is nature with its abundance of beauty and marvel.

One can go on taking pictures and making albums and enjoying going through them all through one’s life time. Like gardening  it is one of the most satisfying hobbies ever. I am covering a few basic points of photography and what it involves and also discuss about the different styles of photography that are prevalent now.

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A few basic points to remember

1. Like any other subject, here too we have to keep certain basic points in mind which include many important minor points and a picture looks exceptional only when all these points or factors come together. Most well composed pictures need careful planning and a good sense of design and imagination.

2. When you focus on the subject that you what to click, you need to decide whether you are going to focus only on the subject or whether you are also planning to include the background.

3. It is good to remember that the camera is at least 100 times more sensitive and perceptive than the human eye and is sometimes able to record even those things that we din’t intend to.

4. Before planning to take a picture make sure that you have studied the surroundings carefully taking everything into consideration and also have come to a satisfactory conclusion as to how you are going to execute it.

5. Make sure that everything is in place and if it is people you are clicking, doubly make sure that they are focused properly and not looking elsewhere or looking disinterested. Encourage people to have natural expressions instead of unnatural fixed smiles that do little to make them look good or for that matter your picture look good. Talking to them on pleasant matters and making them feel at ease is the best way by which you can get the most natural expression out of them.

6. The distance too matters. The subject you are photographing may be too far away from the camera or dwarfed by a building or some other large object which will not help you effectively capture the subject in your photo.

7. When you are using auto focus make sure that you try out different options before settling for the best option available so that you get as near a perfect shot as possible.

Interesting possibilities of experimenting with the camera

According to expert photographs a simple guideline for getting the right focus is by mentally dividing the camera viewfinder into a three by three grid. Once you do this you can experiment with different angles for the photograph. This also depends on whether you’re shooting a candid, portrait, group, landscape or an action shot !

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So now we come to the different concepts of photography which do matter when we decide to click a picture

Candid shots

Candid styles of photography is now becoming increasingly popular both in general day to day photography as well as in formal photographic situations like taking wedding pictures where some people opt to have informal shots where the newlyweds and close family is interacting with the guests instead of posing with them all the time. This goes for office parties too where candid photography as well as group shots are taken to have a nice blend of both formal and informal pictures of the event.

If you are planning to take some candid shots of your friend’s wedding reception or a party that is being hosted at your place , you should be able to capture the spontaneity of a moment. This has to be done without any preparation, more by thinking ahead and anticipating what is about to unfold. By being alert you can greatly increase the chances of getting some great shots. It is actually fun trying to get those shots of people when they seem totally oblivious to being photographed. Basically candid photo shots capture who we are, our natural moments as we are – living life to the fullest, laughing, loving, or crying or just having fun! It can also capture some of people's best angles and shots since it is done on the spur of the  moment, sometimes with very little preparation.

Portrait Shots 

Have you seen some pasty white photos of people blinded by the flash while everything around them looks black . Some formal shots tend to look like that when proper care is not taken. That’s precisely why we see some photographers taking a couple of shots soon after that  difficult pose because by then the subject has relaxed and is relieved, less stiff and probably smiling and that's when you may end up getting a much better picture.The worst thing you can do with portrait shot is to have people looking at the camera with a serious expression, taut bodies, as if they are ready to jump at the first opportunity, worse still is to have kids pose for a picture - it completely stops their free spirit, freezing an expression that is something they’re not – lifeless!

Many professional photographers are of the opinion that when you take portrait shots, do it with your right arm in the upper position, with the camera hanging off my right hand. If you re-position this with the right hand below the camera your posture is less conspicuous and intimidating because that’s how the subject perceives you at that moment and the best results can be had with a fast telephoto lens and no flash. In fact most photographers are opposed to taking pictures with a flash unless it is absolutely necessary.

Landscape Shots 

Now we are talking ! This is probably the most interesting and exciting of all types of photography. Nature as most people agree  is the best subject for photography and one cannot go wrong here. However there are some basic rules to be followed here as well.. I was reading some articles on photography written by some prominent photographers associated with National Geographic, who of course would know all there is to know about photography and the special techniques involved.

According to them, there are times when a picture you shot of an amazing landscape with great hopes of getting a perfect shot, sometimes looks flat and lifeless when you see it later and may not have any of the energy and magic that you experienced when you were actually there experiencing the magnificent scenery. This is because when we look at a landscape, our eyes travel over it and focus on the elements that we find appealing and attractive, this is what is called the average human tendency which blocks out the other factors. Although our field of vision enables us to take in a great deal of the scene, the brain normally ignores all except the most alluring details that have made an impact on us and we end up shooting that without actually focusing on anything else. Had we taken care to notice all the details and viewed it in totality, our photo focus too would have brought in all these minor details and may be got us a perfect shot !

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Some of the most interesting landscape subjects are the mountains, flowing water, water cascades and waterfalls, lush greenery, Deserts, Plains, trees in bloom....the list can be endless since everything about nature is beautiful in its own special way and therefore worth capturing and freezing through our lens. The more pictures you shoot and analyse the faults and mistakes you have made the better you become at capturing nature, and landscape photography has no limits at all  having the widest canvas there is .Personally I find Taking pictures of nature in all its glory the most satisfying and enjoyable.

Group Photos 

Group photos according to professional photographers is the most difficult, also somewhat boring when it is a portrait shot, but much more fun to shoot when it is candid photography. Most photographers agree that while taking the photo of a group of people, one may have to take several shots to get the best result. It is also advisable to avoid straight lines in any group containing more than three people. In the good old days there used be what is now popularly referred to as “high school band” photos, when a large number of people were grouped together and were asked to sit or stand in a particular order, where people at the back in most such photos often have their faces obstructed by the people standing in front of them. We see any number of such pictures and people complaining about how a friend or an enemy standing in the front row shifted  slightly at the last moment thereby partially ablocking out his or her best features !

So to avoid any such confusion and disgruntled subjects, things can be done differently by experimenting with different angles and trying to take the shot from both high and low angles just so that you know which is more effective. Photographers apparently complain about the tedious task of getting people together at wedding receptions for a group photo which may take several minutes sometimes even an hour, trying to get all the wandering relatives or friends together. But it is part of the profession and one cannot do without them, after all pictures are for memories and nostalgia.

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Action shots

Action Shots is the most popular in sports events when you have to capture some of the historic or exciting events that go down in history. Shooting such photos can be tricky because of the continuous movement that is there and also because no one is posing in these photos. So, often such pictures appear blurry or out of focus if not done with care and precision. Such pictures are taken at political events or festival processions and other public events. However, here there is no need for precision and clarity that is needed in sports events.

Many top sports photographers agree that one can hope to get the best action shots when they are taken from, as close to the action as possible. Of course, this rule has many practical limitations with regard to security officials and safety risks. But, the main key factor is to get as close to the action as possible without intruding on the action and also without risking your own safety. There have been cases where sports photographers have been hurt or injured badly trying to get a perfect shot. Action shots however are easier to take when the action can be predicted like at awards functions when the announcement is made and the celebrity comes on stage to take the award or the horses at a horse race , when the bell goes explode out of the gate , when the races begin..

Basic Composition and Angles - a few useful tips

1. It is the angle that really matters ! when you take the shot angle is the key to crafting a photo’s composition, they are inter related.

2. According to the basic photography composition ,a subject should be shot diagonally to make a more authentic and dynamic picture.

3. Expert photographers advice that you should look for imaginary diagonal lines when trying to take a more dramatic, intense and in depth photo especially portrait shots.

4. For a full body shot or portrait shot it is best to try out many angles including turning the camera sideways. It is felt that when you take portraits with a straight on angle, most such shots will have a lot of wasted space on either side .

5. Experimenting and playing with the angle of a shot can make all the difference to a picture being taken in basic photography composition.

6. Once you get more familiar with photographic angles and composition, keep experimenting with low and high angle shots. Also take shots from below or above the subject. When you go through them carefully, you will realise your mistakes if any, also gives you an opportunity and scope for improvisation.

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Finally, all said and done what really matters is the enjoyment you derive out of this hobby. One should no doubt remember the rules of basic photography composition to better oneself but also remember that they are not set in stone. Instead, use them as guidelines to enhance your performance and to make the most of your own creative ideas. It is a good idea to follow the basic guidelines keeping the various points in mind until you’re comfortable with them and then of course sky is the limit as you start experimenting and improvising . According to some well known photographers -sometimes ignoring the guidelines produces a unique and striking photograph that one may not be able to click even after following all the basic points involved...So, what matters most is one’s own imagination and an eye for detail.


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