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Photography Tips

I believe that a good photograph is all about opportunity. An artist doesn’t make art—art happens. Hence, to capture a good image, one needs to have a heart to observe what is going on around him or her, to capture the essence of life, and to get in touch with nature, such as observing the scenery, appreciating the skyline and enjoying the light beams. Or while walking down a road in Sri Lanka, what do you see?  I discovered that some people have lost their trust in the land after the tsunami. They’re now building their houses on top of the trees. How about that young boy sleeping in the tank? What is he doing there instead of working to restore his life back to normalcy? As I walked on, I captured a shot of the clock that had stopped at the moment the wave struck, the toys along the beach, the boats on land, the fisherman fixing his net.

To bring back these life-touching pictures to share with people­—this is photography to me.

Picture tells story
Every picture tells a story. As the old adage goes: “a picture tells a thousand words”, so the next time before you take the picture, ask yourself what is the story you are about to tell. A good picture is when the picture speaks to you.

Foreground & Background
Photography is about composition. You can go to a beach and take a picture, but when you reach home and look at the picture you took, what do you see? You see the sky and the sea. But it is not as beautiful as when you were there! Why? That’s because you can’t capture the atmosphere. There are many things present but you can’t capture it all, because it’s too big an area to include into your frame. That is why an understanding of foreground and background is important. Try to bring a subject by the beach into the foreground. Look at the picture of lighthouse with the bird on the foreground on your right.

My pictures are often very colorful, because I know that colors attract people’s attention. When I take a shot of a bumblebee on a flower, I'd take time to select the background. Remember whenever you take a picture you must not only concentrate on the subject matter, but also to select a nice background. See picture on the right.

Focus on the subject you want to share, do not let other objects distract your story. Many times when you take a picture that you think is nice, but when you look at it later on it isn’t as nice anymore. Why? There are many reasons. One of them is you have included too many subjects in the same image. Remember the next time when any other objects come into your frame, crop it off. That is what I mean by clean-cut.

What’s so interesting about your image if you see things the same way as how others would see them? Capture your image at a different angle and not at the eye level. Anywhere that is not at eye level will give your picture a different feel. If I shoot a picture from the top of a tree, I am also bringing my audiences up on to the tree with me.

Warm Up
Most good pictures come suddenly. When I go on a photography trip, usually for the first days I’ll just be shooting rubbish. You need to warm up so that you will not hesitate too long to capture an image. I remember once a man was carrying two piles of wood on each side, walking down the road. Then a sudden gust of wind blew his hat up into the air. When I had finished focusing my lens, the hat had already landed on the ground. A good shot was missed! I told myself, if I had already warmed up, I’m sure I would have captured that moment. See picture on the right.

Think Out of the Box
Do not think too technically that it takes away your creativity. Get out of the box! You will probably agree with me that many of your experimental shots turned out quite good. Allow yourself the latitude to explore. Especially with digital SLR camera today, there is no film cost, so why wait?

In conclusion, photography is about practice. More than possessing a creative eye, it is about making an effort. You don’t wait for the picture to come. You go for it. You must have the attitude that everything has its own beauty and your role is to bring out the beauty of each subject. Remember you are the creator of the image. You are the author of the story that you are about to tell.


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