Tips for Taking Better Photos #1

5 April 2017|

Way back in November 2005 when I was doing traditionally painted pet portraits, I wrote an article ‘How to take Good Photos of your Pets’ for clients who I wasn’t able to visit in person to take photos as reference material for their paintings.  This blog post article has been one of the most frequently visited pages on my website over the last 11 and a half years, and even though I had not started my career as a professional photographer at that time, the suggestions in the article are still valid today.  

Before I go any further, I think I should pat myself on the back for having maintained this blog for 12 years in August.  That is no mean feat!  Twelve years of (relatively) consistent blogging that chronicles my progress as both an artist and photographer.  I never imagined that I would still be blogging twelve years later when I posted My First Ever Blog Post on 1 August 2005.

Anyhoo, while I was cleaning up the hard drives on my computer today, I unearthed a document that I wrote for an Introduction to Photography course that I held at our local community centre in 2012.  I had planned to add it to my blog back then but obviously didn’t, so I thought it might be a good idea to add it now as I frequently get asked all sorts of photography related questions that my Intro to Photography course notes can answer.

I will start with the basics that anyone with any type of camera (even a phone camera) can start with, some things are common sense, others are little tips that people can struggle for years with until someone points them in the right direction.  I will separate my Intro to Photography course notes into several blog posts and then will expand the information to include information specific to dslr cameras and more advanced photographers.

Tips for Taking Better Photos  ©2012 Michelle Wrighton

Get to Know your Camera

Knowing what functions your particular camera has and how and when to use them is the first step in taking better photos, especially if your camera has more creative functions than a basic point and shoot model. 

The user manual is an invaluable tool to help you learn how to get the most out of your particular camera.  Read it thoroughly several times, and every few months read it again to refresh your memory.  

Underline important information and experiment with different camera settings for the same subject as you read the manual to get a feel for how each setting alters the end photo. 

If you do not have the user manual for your camera, they can normally be found by searching the internet.

How to hold a camera

Moving the camera (camera shake) while taking a photo is a common cause of blurry photos and chopped off heads in photos of people.  Both of these problems can be easily avoided.

  • Use two hands rather than just one to stabilise the camera. 
  • Hold the camera up to your face, rather than at arms length as this will reduce camera movement that will cause blur.
  • Use the viewfinder rather than the LCD screen whenever possible as this will help prevent blur and make composing the photo easier. 
  • Stand either with feet shoulder width apart, or with legs together, one foot in front of the other, toes pointing outwards to stabilize your body. Tuck your elbows into your sides so they don’t move around.
  • Use your right hand to hold the camera with forefinger lightly on the shutter release button. Depending on the camera, the left hand either supports the weight of the camera or the lens barrel.
  • Make sure the camera is perpendicular to the subject ie: vertical (or horizontal if shooting from above) to the ground. Taking a photo with the camera at an angle to the subject will create distortions in the photo.
  • For dslrs, especially with a long lens, using a tripod, timed shutter delay or shutter release cable will always help prevent blurred photos from camera movement (especially if you have shaky hands), but you can also lean the edge of the camera or your body against a solid object such as a pole, wall or tree to help you keep still while the photo is taken.

Practice makes Perfect!

 Unlike the days when photography was film based and costly for rolls of film and printing, digital cameras allow us to take as many photos as we want without costing anything.   Memory cards are relatively inexpensive and worth having several in the 16-128GB range.  

There is nothing like frequent practice to improve your photography skills.  Don’t be afraid to press that shutter release button! Think about each image before you create it, the composition, the angle, the lighting and try different variations taking several photos with each variation.  Use the zoom on your camera, or your move your position to get different views of the subject, from close up to including as much of the background as possible and with the light source coming from different directions.  

Take photos looking both up and down at an angle to the subject to see how the angle of the camera lens will cause distortion in the photo. This can make some very creative photos, but it can also ruin a good photo and can be very unflattering for portrait photography when it is not used intentionally.  By practicing these things you will soon work out what makes a great photo and what makes an awful one.

When starting out with photography it is best to keep the sun (or main light source) behind you so the subject is fully lit (backlight photography is beautiful,but it does take some experience and knowledge to get it right).

Play with different creative settings on your camera, shooting the same object to see how each setting changes the final photo.  These creative settings will be discussed in more detail later in the course.

Look through the different photos you have taken and select the ones you do and don’t like.  Doing this shortly after taking the photos when the memory is still fresh will help speed the learning process.   With experience, you won’t need to take as many photos to get good ones, but its always a good idea to take 2 or 3 photos of the subject (pausing for a few seconds between each one) to allow for accidental movement of the camera or subject, or people blinking etc.

It doesn’t cost anything but a little extra time, your number of really good photos will increase and you can simply delete the ones you don’t like.

To be continued in  Part 2 of the Introduction to Photography.

 

 

 

 

 

Share on

Equine Photography – Artistic Edits

27 September 2016|

There are a variety of different artistic edits that I can do with the horse photographs I capture at events or private sessions.  More complex artistic endeavours require a considerable amount of digital painting to create the final image that I see in my mind, but I also do standard Photoshop editing such as black and white conversions, background replacement and removal of distracting background items or halters, leads and bridles.

I thought I’d share the before and after examples of a black and white conversion with removal of background elements (fence post, fencing wire, trees) that enhances the original image and puts all the focus onto the horse.

Eagleburra Park Shooting Star

Artistic Edits - Eagleburra Park Shooting Star - rearing black and white

A few other examples of artistic edits on horse portrait photographs.

colour explosion artistic horse photography

Signature Colour Explosion artistic photography by Michelle Wrighton

Michelle Wrighton Equine Photography - Black background artistic edit Grey Horse portrait textured backgroundThe Wind Of Heaven Michelle Wrighton Equine Photography artistic editGreen Eyes - Gandalf
Shadows and Light Fine Art Horse photography Bay horse portrait photography Looking Back artistic edit Inspiration - Horse Art artistic edit

Share on

Equine Photography – Dardanup Tip Top Showjumping

19 September 2016|

A few of images from Dardanup Horse & Pony Club Tip Top Showjumping on 18 September 2016.  It was another incredibly well run event by Dardanup Horse and Pony Club and while it was freezing cold, the weather held (mostly) and it only rained for a few rounds.

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton tip-top-showjumping-45cm-214

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton tip-top-showjumping-55cm-041

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton tip-top-showjumping-65cm-042

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton tip-top-showjumping-75cm-030

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton tip-top-showjumping-85cm 033

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton tip-top-showjumping-85cm 200

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton tip-top-showjumping-105cm 092

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton tip-top-showjumping-115cm 008

Tip Top Warm Up

Share on

Black and White Fine Art Horse Photography – Video

9 July 2016|

I thought I would try something a little different to advertise some of my Fine Art Horse photography so created this video with a selection of my favourite black and white horse images.  I quite enjoyed putting it together and I think it is an interesting and rather unique way to show some of my horse art and photography.

I hope you enjoy and would love to know what you think of the video.

Share on

Archived Horse and Dog Event Photographs

7 July 2016|

I have finally had time to go back through my archives and compile a list of horse and dog event photography from 2007-2014.  This includes all portrait sessions and commercial photography sessions for this time period.

I’m not planning to upload all these photos to the new photography website because a) there is unlikely to be much call for them and b) during this time period only purchased photos were fully edited so it would take me months to edit and upload them.  I would just like my client’s to know that the photographs I have taken from these past events can be retrieved if they have been lost or damaged.

All archived client photographs that have previously been purchased as prints or downloads are readily available to re-order if they have been lost or damaged.  Due to the amount of the work involved, requests to upload photos from an archived event will incur a $50.00 admin fee.  This fee will be credited to print purchase from that event.

Previously purchased images are available free of charge as they have already been fully edited.

Photographs from archived private Pet and Children’s Portrait and Commercial Farm and stud sessions can be uploaded to private galleries on http://www.michellewrightonphotography.com free of charge.

At some stage in the future I will start deleting the oldest event photos that havn’t been purchased to free up space on my hard drive and backup storage.  As a service to my clients, all purchased images will be archived indefinitely.

List of Archived Event Photography 2007-2014

2007

All Private Pet Portrait Photography Sessions
Roleystone T-Ball – season games
Roleystone T-Ball – States U11’s and U13’s games

2008

All Private Pet and Childrens Portrait Photography Sessions
1 March 2008 Western Classic Dog Agility Trial
25 Jan 2008 CAWA Dog Agility Committee Fundraiser
1 March 2008 Western Classic Dog Agility and Jumping Trial
14 June 2008 CAWA All Breeds Championship Dog Show
21 June 2008 CAWA All Breeds Championship Dog Show
15 Oct 2008 Navel Base Dog beach
21 Jun 2008 CAWA ALL Breeds Championship Dog Show
14 Dec 2008 Western Horse Clinic, Foxwood Farm

2009

All Private Pet and Childrens Portrait Photography Sessions
10 Jan 2009 Navel Base Horse Beach
18 Jan 2009 Navel Base Horse Beach
20 Jan 2009 Navel Base Horse Beach
24 Jan 2009 CAWA Championship Dog Show
25 Jan WA Palomino Assoc Championship Horse Show
30 Jan 2009 WCRC Agility Dog Trial
7 Feb 2009 Pinjarra Horse and Pony Club Twilight Gymkhana
8 Feb 2009 Gosnells Horse and Pony Club All Breed Show
15 Feb 2009 Peel Horse and Pony Club Show Jumping Day
21 Feb 2009 Paint Horse Championship Show
21 Feb 2009 Ian Francis Cutting Horse Clinic
22 Feb 2009 Orange Grove Horse and Pony Club Gymkhana and Working Hunter Show
8 March 2009 Wallangarra Horse and Pony Club ODE
20 March 2009 WA Quarter Horse Association Championship Show
28 March 2009 WA Terrier Club Championship Dog Show
16 May 2009 Coolup Cutting Horse Club Show
24 May 2009 SPPHAWA Winter Gala Standardbred Horse Show

2010

All Private Pet and Childrens Portrait Photography Sessions
2010 Boyup Brook Country Music Festival
2010 Mayanup Campdraft
6 June 2010 Dardanup Heavy Horse and Liberty display
7 Nov 2010 Henty Fun Day
2 Nov 2010 Dinninup Upper Blackwood Ag Show
30 Oct 2010 Harvey Dickson’s Rodeo
5 Dec 2010 Warren H&PC camp

2011

All Private Pet and Childrens Portrait Photography Sessions
All commercial Photography sessions
19 Feb 2011 Boyup Brook Country Music Festival
3 March 2011 Mayanup Campdraft
29 Oct 2011 Harvey Dickson’s Rodeo
1 Nov 2011 Dinninup Upper Blackwood Ag Show
19 Nov 2011 Collie Ag Show – Hacking, Show Jumping

2012

All Private Pet and Childrens Portrait Photography Sessions
All commercial Photography sessions
11 March 2012 Mayanup Campdraft
6 Nov 2012 Dinninup Upper Blackwood Ag Show
11 Nov 2012 Blackwood Horse and Pony Club Gymkhana

2013

All Private Pet and Childrens Portrait Photography Sessions
All commercial Photography sessions
9 March 2013 Mayanup Campdraft
4 May 2013 Bridgetown Harness Racing
13 October 2013 Collie Horse and Pony Club Gymkhana
5 Nov 2013 Dinninup Upper Blackwood Ag Show
23 Nov 2013 Bridgetown Ag Show

2014

18 May 2014 Blackwood Pony Club Rally – Teenage Rampage Display

2015 to Present

All images from events from 2015 onwards are available for viewing and purchase directly from my website.

Share on

Bunbury Horsemans Gymkhana Photography

21 June 2016|

All photos from the main arena Show Jumping and Show Horse classes at Bunbury Horseman’s Gymkhana on 19 June 2016 have been uploaded to my event photography website http://michellewrightonphotography.com

For something a little bit different, I have created a video slideshow of some of the photos from the Show Horse and Show Jumping classes.

Congratulations to everyone who participated, especially seeing as the weather was less than co-operative, especially for the bigger heights in the showjumping!

Here are a few of my favourite photographs from the day!

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse photography Bunbury Showhorse 012 wm

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse-photography-Bunbury-Showhorse-063-wm

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse-photography-Bunbury-Showhorse-096-wm

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse photography Bunbury Showhorse 142

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse photography Bunbury Showjumping 60-70cm 022

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse photography Bunbury Showjumping 80 90 cm 002

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse photography Bunbury Showjumping 80 90 cm 018

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse photography Bunbury Showjumping 80 90 cm 025

Share on

Murray Horse and Pony Club ODE Equestrian Event Photography

22 May 2016|

All photographs from the dressage, Show Jumping and Cross Country phases from Murray Horse and Pony Club’s ODE on 14-15 May 2016  have been uploaded to my Equine Photography website, http://www.equine-photography.com.au.  Congratulations to all the winners and place getters and every rider who completed the event!

Here are a few of my favourites from the weekend.

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse photographer Murray ODE Cross Country Open 65 016

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse photographer Murray ODE Cross Country Open 65 053

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse photographer Murray ODE Cross Country Open 65 071

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse photographer Murray ODE Cross Country Open 65 201

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse photographer Murray ODE Cross Country PC 65 076

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse photographer Murray ODE Cross Dressage 1 017

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse photographer Murray ODE Cross Dressage 1 106Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse photographer Murray ODE Show Jumping PC 65 094Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse photographer Murray ODE Show Jumping PC 80 A 036

Share on

Dardanup ODE Equestrian Event Photography

10 May 2016|

All photos from Dardanup Horse and Pony Club’s ODE on 7-8 May 2016 have been uploaded to my photography website http://www.equine-photography.com.au

A few of my favourites from the weekend.

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse dressage eventing dardanup ode 1678 wm

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse eventing dardanup ode Cross Country One Star 010

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse eventing dardanup ode Cross Country One Star 030

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse eventing dardanup ode Cross Country Open 95 025

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse eventing dardanup ode dressage 0576

Share on

Kojonup One Day Event Horse Photography

5 May 2016|

All photographs from the dressage, Show Jumping and Cross Country phases from Kojonup Horse and Pony Club’s 2016 ODE have been uploaded to my photography website, http://www.equine-photography.com.au/.  Congratulations to all the place getters and every rider who completed the event.

Here are a few of my favourites from the weekend.

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse eventing Kojonup ODE Cross Country B Grade 037

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse eventing Kojonup ODE Cross Country B Grade 095

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse eventing Kojonup ODE Cross Country C Grade 010

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse eventing Kojonup ODE Cross Country C Grade 116

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse eventing Kojonup ODE Dressage D Grade 051

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse eventing Kojonup ODE Dressage D Grade 083 ShowJumping-C-Grade-003

Share on

Capel Cross Country Training Day – Equestrian Photography

25 April 2016|

All event photos from the Capel Horse and Pony Club Cross Country and Show Jumping Training Day on 23 April 2016 have now been uploaded to my horse event photography website http://www.equine-photography.com.au/

A few of my favourite photos from the cross country and show jumping rounds.

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse cross country eventing capel training 5235

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse cross country eventing capel training 4494

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse cross country eventing capel training 4498

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse cross country eventing capel training 4749

Equine photography Michelle Wrighton horse cross country eventing capel training 5079

Share on