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Top 10 photography tips
by Alex Cican- sicanstudios.com

Here are 10 tips to turn you into a professional photographer and improve your photos dramatically. On my opinion, these are the most important things that a photographer, beginner or pro, must know about! So enough with the bla bla, read the article and let me know what you think!

Tip no. 1 - Get a dSLR

If you're serious about photography, it is essential that you drop your 5-year-old digital toy and opt for a dSLR (What is a dSLR?). It doesn't matter whether your digital camera has 5 or 66 MegaPixels (What is this?). It all comes down to the image censor, baby! That is the reason why most professional photographers own a full-frame dSLR. A full-frame dSLR has an image sensor of size 24 x 36mm which is much bigger than the ordinary dSLR's sensor, which are of size 15 x 22.5mm (More on full frame dSLR).

In addition to that there are also the lenses! The image quality depends also on the lens that you use. You have a variety to choose from, so if you are a landscape photographer it's popular to use wide-angle lens which will enable you to get as much of the scene as possible in the photo. If you are a sports fan it's mandatory to use telephoto lens and so on! So, drop your toy-camera and grab a dSLR today!

Some useful links:
Find the Best Digital SLR Camera in 4 Steps
Buying a digital SLR

Tip no. 2 - Use a tripod


You should always use a tripod whether you're shooting landscapes or macro! Using a tripod results in full stability, minimal camera shake making your images as sharp as they get! Do I have to say that your tripod is your best friend if you're shooting sports of night photos? Of course not!

According to various sources, Manfrotto tripods are the best ones (Update: Gitzo tripods are the best!) (Thanks to: Zach and GITZO for their correction)

But an ordinary tripod could also do the job! There is also the possibility to use a monopod as well!

In situations where you can't use a tripod or you don't have it with you, make sure that you support your hands on something (wall, table, fence or even on your companion's shoulder) and stop breathing when taking the shot, to minimize camera shake.

Sub tip: To increase stability even more, attach a backpack on the center gravity of your tripod

Sub tip: When shooting night shots with long exposures, use a remote release cable or add timer, in order to remove the camera shake produced by the hand pressing the camera button.



Tip no. 3 - Correct camera holding

Related to the previous tip, using a tripod to minimize shake, comes this tip which is how to correctly hold the camera. It is very important that you hold the camera correctly in order to obtain the maximum stability possible. The correct way is to not have your arms spread like a bird learning to fly and the palm of your hand shouldn't be on top of the camera. The correct position is having your arms near your body and the palm of your hand should be under the camera lens offering support.

Tip no. 4 - Lowest ISO


Although technology has advanced, I still suggest you that you take photos at the lowest native ISO your camera is providing.

"E.g. the ISO range of my Sony A700 is 100-6400, but it's native iso is 200, not 100. Shooting at 100 you lose contrast and dynamic range, and there is no improvement in noise." (comment by Zach)

This is a feature that depends solemnly on the camera. So, if you are like me and posses a crappy old dSLR, ISO 200 is the maximum value I can go! If you have a newer camera you can push the boundaries further! Did you know that the new Canon 5D MKII has an ISO range of 50 – 25 600! Amazing!

Bottom line is that I prefer having a more darkened image, which I can edit in Adobe Photoshop later, with less noise than a correctly exposed image but with lots of noise in it!

Tip no. 5 - Manual White Balance


One of my favourite tips! Always shoot with manual white balance! It allows you to change the mood of the photo drastically! In the example above, I wanted a cold-white look and avoid that yellowish bulb light colour, so I set the white balance to 2000K. If you are like me and you want to have full control over your shots, you never leave the camera decide the correct white balance based on some algorithm!

So, to bring mood in your photos, shoot with manual white balance. It will take some time to learn working with it, but it is worth it!

Here are some useful links about white balance:
http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/white-balance.htm
http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/whitebalance.htm
http://www.photoxels.com/tutorial_white-balance.html

Tip no. 6 - Don't use Built-in Flash


love this one, although it applies mostly to portrait shots. Ladies and gents, never use the build-in, popup flash!

Yes, you heard me correctly; the built-in flash results in harsh photos with strong lights and dark shadows which is absolutely dreadful, in my opinion. Use a soft box instead!

"What?! Do you know how much a soft box is worth?!"

Hehe, yes I do but if you're serious about what you do, then it's a must! It's fine if you don't have the budget or a studio; buy an external flash unit with a diffuser

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