Column: The basic rules PDF Print E-mail

The photo code

Holiday season is over and there are some great shots from the vacation, but are some still not-quite-there yet? Here are some essential rules you should follow.
Be prepared
This could mean a few things. Always have your camera on you. Make sure the battery is charged or you have spares and that your memory card is in and cleared of old information (which you should ideally back-up after every shoot). We all have those moments where we sigh saying “Ah, I wish I had my camera here!” Well, why don’t you? As heavy and risky as it is, I take my camera everywhere with me and I don't regret it.
Shoot 100, pick one
Yes, the professionals say ‘think film’ as in, you should not be shooting more than one roll of film – or 36 shots – per outing. Nonsense. The beauty of digital is that the layman can now afford to get that perfect shot, even if it does take 36 tries to get the one you want. It’s only when you’re going pro you need to worry about wasting shots. As a beginner, click away, knowing exactly what you’re aiming for and try until you get it right.
Photo first, Photoshop last
Before taking the shot, some photographers already have the presets on Photoshop in mind. Bad puppy! Focus on the shot through the viewfinder. Get it right. Always strive for perfection with the camera in hand, rather than your mouse or trackpad. Getting the shot right on the spot is far more rewarding and indicative of your skills as a photographer. Even if it is a family snapshot, getting everyone in focus should become a piece of cake. Keep in mind that it’s harder to fix mistakes in Photoshop than it is to just get it right the first time around with the shutter button.
Be a fly on the wall
The last thing you want to have is a million shots of posing, smiling people and none of the great moments you’ve had. So make yourself inconspicuous, invisible and shoot nonchalantly. The satisfaction of capturing the moment when someone rolled over laughing because of something someone said is priceless. Not only will it make for a great photo, but a great story ten years later. Images are reminders of memories. But also remember to be in the moment and enjoy yourself rather than sitting behind the viewfinder. It’s hard to balance both, but when you finally do, it’s well worth it.
Print them photos
A shot is just a file on your PC, until you print it. Then it becomes a photo. It’s a waste if they’re just taking up space on your desktop or hard drive. Unless you have a digital photo frame, which is updated regularly, those shots are going to waste. My method is this; take 100 shots, narrow them down to 50, then 25. I print my top 25 photos every month. A lot of them are given away, but most are framed or put into albums. The pictures are there; tangible and real.
The only way you are going to learn about your camera and photography is to play. Peruse your manual, know just how not to break the camera, then keep the manual out of sight. Play with each setting, giving each one – automatic, manual, priorty or preset – enough attention to figure it out. Push every button, turn every dial. Shoot on each mode. 
Playing isn’t just about the camera. Play with different types of subject matter. People, landscapes, action, parties, nightlife, animals… you name it. If it’s there in front of you, go snappy happy. Play with effects, framing, cropping, angles, lighting and shadows. Anything you can think of, anything you have in mind, try to make it visible through the viewfinder. Even if it means climbing a tree and hanging upside-down from a branch.
Happy new year and happy shooting!
Who to follow this month: @IanEarthTouch for wildlife and conservation pictures galore.
Feel free to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with any suggestions, questions, comments or help.
Nikita Ramkissoon is a journalist and sub-editor at She has been a freelancer for over five years, focusing on entertainment and conservation, and has recently become a geek-in-training with ITWeb. She loves photography, rock and indie music, Guitar Hero and geeks. Environmentalist. Tourist. Artist. Musicist. Non-feminist feminist. Activist. Evolutionist. Bloggist. Journalist. Greatest. She can be found tweeting @nikistarfish. She is also a wannabe Jedi and rock star.
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