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Megan Rossman, Associate Editor
Photo by JOHN JERNIGAN
A Pretty Picture
By Megan Rossman
March 29, 2012
As the editors at Oklahoma Today work zealously to wrap up the upcoming May/June issue (look out for motorcycles, pies, and rural vistas), another deadline steadily approaches. Sunday, April 1 at 8:59 a.m. marks the last call for submissions to Give Us Your Best Shot, an Oklahoma Today photography contest.
Given this deadline, it seems appropriate to share a few things I’ve learned about photography over the years. Whether or not you’re entering the contest, some of this may come in handy. A lot more could be said about what makes a good photo, but this is a start:
There’s no substitute for practice.
Light: It quite literally makes the picture. Given the right light, the mundane has the potential to become extraordinary. That muddy field behind your house can transform into a serene, flowering meadow or become the foreground in a violent stormscape. Keep in mind, that principle also works in reverse. In the wrong lighting, even Angelina Jolie can look bad.
Consider a tripod. You’ve probably noticed by now that digital cameras are prone to shake, resulting in unintentionally blurred images. A tripod and a shutter release will help prevent that in longer exposures. Too many great images succumb to camera shake. Fight it with a tripod.
Understand how your camera works. That sounds fairly obvious, but you might be surprised by what you don't know. Read your user manual and check out the Internet. My Google search for “digital photography tutorial” just turned up 20,700,000 results.
Study exceptional photos you come across. What is it that makes them great? The more great photos you look at, the more likely you are to recognize opportunities to take your own. This one, by Mark W. Nault, which appeared on the cover of our November/December 2007 issue, is an example of a great photo:
On that note, take lots of photos. Your odds of getting a good picture increase with the number you take.
If you took an Intro to Photography class at some point, you’re familiar with the rules of composition. They’ll help you get a nice shot. Here’s a link: http://www.photographymad.com/pages/view/10-top-photography-composition-rules
And remember: It’s fairly easy to get a great shot of some staggeringly beautiful natural wonder like the Grand Canyon. Arguably more impressive is capturing the grandeur of the everyday; that’s what most of us have to work with. Keep your eyes open, keep that camera close at hand, and you’ll find extraordinary moments more and more often.