If the majority of us were handed a professional camera, we wouldn’t have a clue how to use it. There are hundreds of fancy settings, lighting effects and zoom options - how do we know what to choose? High-quality, professional photography is sure to improve CRO and engagement on your hotel's website, which is why it’s crucial to invest in good equipment and expertise. Even amateur photographers are still learning the ropes when it comes to working the camera, so what are our top tips here at FLOCC to get started?
Before the rise of smartphones and the beloved iPhone camera, there were the good ole days when anyone that wanted to take a photo, picked up a camera. If you wanted to edit these photos, you didn't do it using flashy editing apps that take all of 2 minutes to fully transform your image; instead, you plugged in your SD card and spent a few hours on Photoshop. Professional photography requires time, effort and knowledge that taking pictures on your smartphone doesn’t.
Getting to know your camera
Cameras have evolved significantly in the previous decade, and if you want to advance with the times, you should avoid 'point and shoot' cameras. Professional cameras offer this option as well for individuals who are rigid and want the camera to do all of the work for them, but breaking free from this habit is where the true magic of creative photography emerges.
The majority of experienced photographers tend to shoot in 'Manual mode,' and there are several reasons behind this. Once you understand why your images will improve dramatically. Photographers will achieve significantly higher quality and expression in their images by doing everything manually rather than relying on the camera's automated settings.
The three key camera settings are ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture. All of these are linked to light to some degree.
ISO is the sensitivity of your camera to light; the lower you set your ISO, the less light is able to pass through the sensor, but the higher you set your ISO, the brighter your image will be since more light is passing through into the sensor. Keeping your ISO at 100 or as low as possible is normally advised, because the higher the ISO, the more 'noisy' and 'grainy' your photographs will become, depending on the quality of the camera.
The shutter speed of a camera is the amount of time the shutter is open, allowing light to enter the camera's sensor. The more light that enters the sensor, the longer the shutter is open. For example, if you wanted to photograph an extremely fast bird in flight, you'd need a shutter speed of at least 1/200 of a second. To photograph something like a smooth waterfall, on the other hand, a slow shutter speed is required, with the shutter being open for a few seconds to generate motion.
The opening of a lens's diaphragm through which light flows is referred to as an aperture. While it is referred to as a camera setting, it is actually a lens adjustment. A camera aperture influences two aspects of capturing a beautiful photo: light and focus, and it provides a photographer with creative control over exposure and depth of field. The lower the f/stop number, the more exposure is provided, while the higher the f/stop number, the less exposure is provided. The lower the f/stop, the larger the opening in the lens, the less depth of field, and the blurrier the background (bokeh), whereas the higher the f/stop, the smaller the opening in the lens, the greater the depth of field, and the sharper the background.
Now you can see how all three features interact with light, but they also have their own individual task to perform on top of that, but when used correctly, the photographer has much more creative control.
Understanding the importance of light
Photography is nothing without light. It’s the number one importance when contemplating taking an image. It might mean having to be patient and wait a few hours for the natural light to become stronger or weaker. Light controls an image. You could be trying to create an artistic & emotional image which requires the right lighting, but if used incorrectly it could cause the complete opposite and destroy an image.
Light is emotion. Remember the saying “A photograph is worth a thousand words”? Through powerful photography, that utilises the right light, you can tell a story and stir the emotions of those that view it. For example, take two images, one of a glorious blue sky where the sun is shining (giving off a positive feel to the image) and another, taken in exactly the same location but with grey clouds looming over the horizon. There will be a clear difference between the two, and the darker image is much more likely to stir negative emotions, which is why vibrant pictures are so successful in enticing people to websites and pages. Light can be used & changed however you choose, but remember to take into account who will be seeing the images and what narrative you’re attempting to convey.
What can you do?
The hardest thing when trying to control lighting in your camera is one hundred per cent the sun. The sun can be your best friend or it can be your worst enemy. It can create unwanted shadows which will overexpose the highlights, underexpose the shadows, or both. The best way to control shadows in your images during these conditions is to always underexpose an image to make sure the highlights are captured right.
On your camera, the shadows will be extremely dark, but during post-processing, it is possible to raise the shadows and keep the same quality, but next to impossible to decrease the highlights if overexposed during the capture. The final result of this technique is a 50/50 split of beautifully captured highlights and shadows exposed correctly. There is also another technique of exposure bracketed shots to expose both correctly, but this is for a more advanced photographer and requires a tripod, & taking 3-5 separate shots of different exposures and merging them all in post-processing to create the final image.
Choosing your subject
You could argue that the subject is more important than the light, but both are as important as each other because without the subject you wouldn’t be taking a photo, and without the light, you couldn’t see the subject.
Without a clear subject, your photo will be difficult to define and therefore unappealing. It is the main interest in your photograph and photographers often choose subjects by what inspires them - something in the scene that stands out. Photography allows us to show others our own view of the world, and most of the time that is all a photographer needs to find a subject. Placement of a subject by using angles and creativity, perspective, and surroundings are all important when using subjects in a photograph.
So there’s a roundup of our top tips for familiarizing yourself with the camera in photography 101. Nearly every great website showcases high-quality photos that have been taken with these important features in mind. We know it’s not easy and takes time to perfect but start experimenting with the camera and give it a go. For those wanting our professional expertise, contact us today and check out how we can help your hotel or restaurant maximise its direct bookings.