Keys to improving your Photography | Brennen Higgins | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (19m)
    • 1. Improving your photography: Intro

    • 2. Tips for sport and street photography

    • 3. How to do long exposures and Astro photography

    • 4. Tips for portrait photography

    • 5. How to improve your black and white photos

    • 6. Two keys or tips to improving your photography skills

    • 7. A helpful exercise to improve your photography skills

    • 8. Editing tips to improve your photos

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About This Class

Let's go over some tips to improve your photography all around. We'll dive into most types of photography and discuss what you can do to improve on them. 

With these additional skills, it will better improve on your knowledge of photography.

Meet Your Teacher

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Brennen Higgins

Everything video and photo related!


Hello, my names Brennen Higgins. I'm here to teach you everything you need to know about cameras, photography and film. I've always had a passion for photography and film, so much so that I went to school for it. I received my bachelors in Film and Photography and hope my skills and knowledge can benefit others!

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1. Improving your photography: Intro: So now that you know the basics to a camera, Let's talk about all the different types of photography's you can do. This, can go anywhere from daytime and nighttime photography, street photography, whatever you're wanting, and how to set up your camera and the most beneficial way to take those photos. Let's get started. 2. Tips for sport and street photography: So now let's talk about sports photography and street photography. Because though they are very different, they have a lot of similar aspects when unrelated to the camera. So the most important thing you have to think about when doing street photography and sports photography is you want a very, very high shutter. I'm talking 400 plus. So if you think most of your favorite, that athletes, all of their photos that have ever been to magazines or anything, they're probably shooting somewhere around 100 to 4 thousand of a shutter. So if you think about it, one thousandth of a shudder, it's almost instantaneous, so it's the easiest way to freeze frame and image and capture where you're looking, looking for him because there is movement. You're going to want that fast shutter because you don't want any blurring your image. So high shutter for sure. Obviously if you can keep your ISO down, you're going to want as little grain as you can. So I would say shoot. So if it's a high PE Sports, something like hockey or something like soccer where they're moving very quick. You're probably going to want to shoot a 1250th of a shutter, maybe 2000 film the shutter somewhere around that range. Keep your ISO down and you're probably going to want to shoot with a very low aperture. So somewhere around like a 14 to a 2.8, somewhere in that range because you're going to want obviously the subject that you're taking a photo up to stick out. So same with street photography though. Because you don't think they're very similar in the way you shoot them. With street photography. You want a fast shutter if you're taking any type of photos of anybody walking through the streets or doing anything, you're going to want. That really shallow depth of field for that same reason, if you're trying to capture that these two people walking through the streets of downtown Los Angeles. So the most important thing is when you're doing these is you have to really think about your shutter, how you're going to incorporate it, and then how you're going to incorporate your aperture. So I'll show some examples to give you kind of an idea of what the shoot around. And I gave you some specifications on what I shot these photos app. Alright, so we're happening to Light room right now. So as you can see, I have this train in Vienna coming into the train station. So as you can see, actual train itself totally freeze-frame. And this was shot if you can see 1 800th of a second. So now obviously everything is frozen in this image. Whereas let's go over to a train, coming into the train station. As you can see, the actual train itself is blurred throughout because it's one thing moving. And if you actually look, this was shot at 140th of seconds to give you an idea. So 140th of a second has some blur to it if it says movement. Whereas if you're above like a 400 or 800, there's not as much movement. So now coming over just like this to people walking up the steps, everything's frozen. There's no blur to it. The reason why is the shot at 1 2000 500th of a second and an F2 0.8, like I was saying, to get those shallow depth of field for your subject. So yeah, that's some of the examples to show you guys and on to the next one. 3. How to do long exposures and Astro photography: So in this section, let's talk about nighttime photography and long exposure. So when you do a nighttime photography, there's a couple of things you have to think about. One, you're going to have to have a very, very slow shutter. So I'm talking something like a 1 second shutter. Now, you can, if you have a newer camera bumps your ISO to like 2500 and 3200, and you'll be okay and you might be able to get away with a little bit faster shutter. So there's a couple of things you got to think about when you're starting nighttime photography. One, do you have a lens that can open up enough to let enough Leiden because you are shooting at night, it's going to be very limited on light. Two, you need to have a lower shutter so to get away with it. And three, you're gonna have to have a higher ISO. So depending on your camera type, we'll kinda dictate, we're going to be shooting. So, so let's start with shutter. Shutter is probably the most important thing. So if you're doing nighttime photography, you're going to have to have a pretty slow shutter. So I'm talking one hundred, three hundred seconds for slower. So right now, this is a second shutter. If you think about it. And you shooting a second shutter, you're going to have to use a tripod. And then general, when you're doing nighttime photography, you're going to want to use a tripod because your shoulders are going to be low. If you're not using a tripod with a lower shutter, your images will be blurry. Because if you think about it, if I'm shooting at 1 second and I'm moving, my whole image is moving while it's being taken, so it's going to be blurry. So now the fun part is long exposures. So I don't know if you've ever noticed or you've ever been interested, but if you've seen the photos where somebody takes a photo of a highway and you can see the squiggly lines from the car lights going by. So the way you're gonna do long exposures, Obviously first you need some type of light source running through your image. Second, you're going to need your tripod, so but you came on new tripod. It's your image setup. I want to take a photo of. And so let's say these cars are passing the way you're going to do it is your shutter or say your ISO. The way you're gonna do that and set your ISO whatever you want, your aperture, what you want. And I'm going to have to adjust your shutter to make a properly exposed. So you're probably going to be somewhere in between a 2.5th to two seconds for a long exposure. Once you have that image and you see, let's say you're on overpass and you see cars coming through that you know, you wanted to take a photo as they're approaching, start the camera. And so you will notice it will take 1 second, 2 seconds. They'll go through your image. And then when you look at the image, you will actually notice the lines coming through. So the light on a car is so much brighter than say like the moon. So it allows it to expand the light basically threatened Ed firms that might end here images. So I'll kinda work. So just remember when you're doing a long exposure, obviously need your shutter a couple of seconds, at least 2.5th at the minimum, a 100 percent unit, a tripod, and you need some source of light coming for you. Now on the same time to that is if you're wanting to do Astro photography, take photos of the moon and take photos of the stars. You're going to a have to have a long lens. So you're probably talking at 200 millimeter or more. Obviously going to have to probably have a lot more actually to your shutter is going to have to be super, super long. We're talking like thirty-seconds to amend. And the way you accomplish this is grab your camera, put it on the bulb setting. And when you hold down, it'll leave the shutter open for as long as he needed to. And then whenever you're done taking the photo, let it go from your shutter, it'll be done. But the way you're gonna have to do is you're going to have to experiment. Do a shutter of like thirty-seconds. If it looks good, good. If it's too dark, go with a minute. You might have to go to minutes depending on what your ISO is. Typically though, if you're doing such a long exposure, you don't have to have your ISO so crazy, I shoot it like 2600 or 1600. I wouldn't really go higher because your shutter is open so long so that kind of compensate so once enough light. And so when you're talking about nighttime photography, that is kinda the main portions of it. You see a lot of long exposures, a lot of Astro photography. But what if you want to go travel through your city and you wanna take photos, what do you do? So to get a nice looking or image, let's say you're taking a photo of some type of subject, you're going to have to have some light on them at least because if you have a backlight on them on the daytime, it's different. You can expose to their face still. But at nighttime, use have shadows on their face. So you're going to have to have some type of front-facing light that's super important. Now if you're in like a city and you're wanting to take my street photography, but at night, you probably have to look at like a 3200 ISO. Try to shoot at least like a 125th of a second, maybe 200th of a second for a shutter, you're going to have to have something semi fast. And I can set a front-facing light, something, some type of light source on your subject to kind of pull it out. And that's kinda mainly everything for nighttime photography. 4. Tips for portrait photography : So now let's talk about portrait photography. If you're trying to make any money in photography, portrait is your best way to go. So there's a couple of rules you got to think about when you're shooting portrait photography. One, you're always wanting a soft light. So overcast days are the best days for portrait photography. The second is, you're going to want a very shallow depth of field for almost all of your photos. So you're going to want to be shooting it like a 2.8 or lower. So 2.8 or two or 1.4, somewhere around there at is your best bet. So a third thing is you gotta think you're working with a subject, so you have to find out what this person likes, what they're comfortable with. Because the more they're opened up in, the more they're relaxed in your photos, a better your photos will look. The other thing is you want a high shutter. The reason for that is you're wanting your photos to be Chris, especially for our portrait because there's a lot more detail in them. So you have to think whenever you taking these photos, you're going to probably want to be at, I would say a 125th of a second or higher. I always try to shoot it around 400 or more. So the reason you go with that is because you have to think it's a person that sounds something staying still. So there is some type of micro movement to it. So there's a chance that they won't be as sharp as they could be. So kind of take out that possibility. You take out the blurb possibility and go with a higher shutter and a very, very low aperture. That's the two most important things. So those are the biggest tips from portrait photography. 5. How to improve your black and white photos: So let's talk about monochrome photography or black and white photography. Really, really, really interesting. So you shoot black and white, totally different than you would. Anything else. Nowhere near like how you would shoot colors. So the thing with black and white and the thing that makes her photos so, so strong and so great is you'll notice in almost all really, really Popular black and white photos, there's a high amount of contrast. So go on your Instagram and look up some of the most famous black and white photographers like JSON Peter center or Allan Chandler. And you'll see almost all of their work, all of their photos. They're all very contrasty. And the reason for it is because since you're only shooting in two colors, you're on a grayscale, you have to remember this. You don't have all of these other colors that can add to an image or do stuff. So you're going to have to work with light and how shadows cut-through and you have to worry about highlights. So contrast is probably the number one thing. You don't have to worry about your shutter, your ISO, whatever said it, how you want. The thing you really have to look for is that contrast. And to go with that, obviously, if you're shooting a portrait photography, what do you want while you're wanting to soft light? You're wanting something very nice. Whenever it is really sunny outside is the best time to go out and take some black and white photos because it allows the most amount of shadows on subject. So if you're having a harsh sun down on the subject and allows there to be shadows, allows there to be really high highlights. That's kinda what you're looking for. So I'm not saying you can't do it like a normal studio light where you would set up lights and do black and white photography for portraits. I'm just saying typically you're looking for that high contrast mix. So typically remember, sunny days are actually really great for doing black and white photography. So if you're a normal photographer, taking normal color photos and it's a sunny day and you don't want to take photos, go out and take some black on my try it out. You will be very surprised. The thing is you have to do black and white so much because the way you think about taking lack of my photos is totally different. So it takes a lot of time to get used to black and white. So if you use the shooting color, it's going to take a while to transfer over to black and white. Given time, it will be fine. Now, let's talk about how to edit all of the photos that we've done and how to edit all types of photos. 6. Two keys or tips to improving your photography skills: So when you're developing your eye for photography, there's two things that you really have to remember and to things that are super important. The first is you need patients, man, you need so much patients in this industry. You have to think in leading into the second part. You hear about the rule that it's 10 thousand hours to become a professional or a master of what you're doing. So you have to think, if you're going out today and you take photos for five hours and nothing comes back and you feel like a failure. You got to remember that's five hours. You might do it tomorrow. It might be the same outcome. Do it the next day. Same outcome B, I think you put it in 15 hours and it's gonna take you thousands to improve. Take your time with it, enjoy it, enjoy the process of it. That's the most important part. Go out and just enjoy what you're taking photos of. You will improve obviously over time. But it will take a lot of time. So you have to be mentally strong enough to just push through it. It's a very, very, very difficult road to become a great photographer or an excellent photographer. I mean, I feel like I've done this for eight years and I'm still improving every day. And sometimes I have days that I take take a whole day and I get one or two good photos. And he really does suck. But you have to think it's gonna take a lot of time. Be patient with it. 7. A helpful exercise to improve your photography skills: So let's talk about a little exercise we can do to expand our photography the most. And what can you do to get to that next level? So the next time you go out, I want you to be very conscious about what you're doing. So think about those long exposures and those freeze frames. I want you to do both of those. And I want you to do different types of photos every single time you go shoot. So if you're gonna go shoot portraits, go shoot portraits. Tomorrow. If you're going to go shoot, go shoot the forest, go shoot nature. Third day, if you're gonna go out, go to architecture forth, they go to black and white. Really expand and try different things every single day and every time that you go take photos, do something different because one, It's going to improve you all around. You're going to learn things you didn't know. Two, you're going to really find out what kind of photography you like the most and what suits use of S. And three, It's such a good and helpful exercise to just really improve all around. So work on your shutter, work on your aperture, and work on your ISO. See how those three incorporated with each other. Of course, things like that will improve your photos the most. So now if you have multiple lenses, tried to add something wide angle and tried to add something telephoto. Really, really incorporated in a lens you have, if you do, if you only have one lens used the most of it, do the best that you can with it. So that's a really helpful exercise every time we go and now shoot something different. 8. Editing tips to improve your photos: So we've had been to Lightroom, so now let's talk about editing some photos. So let's jump to the black and white to kind of explain to you guys. So when I've told you I'm talking about more contrast is always better. Let's take a photo like here in Malta where you can see there's a lot of shadow, There's a lot of highlights. It's a lot of contrast in this. So putting it together, it makes for a nice image, it makes for a nice black and white photo. Whereas let's say you're taking a photo of this building. This building is just pretty much purely highlight. There's no shadow in it, There's nothing. And I mean, it's a fine looking photo. But if you throw it in black and white, it doesn't really add to it at all. It doesn't really do much for the image period. So that's a little example of black and white. So now let's look at street photography. So this is taken at a 70 millimeter and actually I've punched in my Sony for the crop sensor. So this is actually taking closer to like a 105 millimeter. So this is just to show you guys that doesn't necessarily matter author lens. So this isn't like a 105 millimeters, whereas this photo is it like 24 millimeters. So both add in their perspective and both are beneficial and the way that you're looking at them. But there are shot totally different and it's totally subject to however you want to shoot. Now, let's talk about how I would edit this per se. So the thing that I'm noticing is I have my subject right here. But the thing about him is he's very dark and it's actually kind of hard to see him through this actual photo. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna go ahead and come over. So go ahead and make a little more round them. And we're just going to punch up the exposure on them a little bit. We're probably going to go up a stop if we can. Let's go one-stop. Comes up a little bit more. Yes. So let's go ahead and add some shadows up forum and even just something simple like that. And something like that just adds to the subject and it just kind of eliminates a subject a bit more small things like that. And I'll maybe you want to throw in some contrast. That helps. So he pops out a little bit. Let's say you want a little bit more blue. So we'll add a little bit more color temperature to it. And something very simple like that. Really simple adjustments. Totally make your image and totally change the way your image looks. So it's not about these crazy adjustments that you need to make, but it's more so the micro adjustments you need to make to make that photo how you want it to look. So let's just go ahead and edit a photo from beginning to end. So my thought right off the bat is, don't want to add contrast to this. And initially you might at some point, but instead of adding the contrast, let's talk about the highlights and the shadows source. So let's adjust these highlights jus just a little bit up. Let's go ahead and make this a bit warmer there. And we'll go ahead and drop these shadows just like so now we're down to the S curve. So what are we gonna do with the S curve while it's quiet and take these midtone, bring them up just slightly. And whenever you're doing curves, it's really nice actually to make what's called an S curve. So the way you'd make an S curve is it'd be kinda how it sounds. So you pull up the highlights, pull down the shadows. And it's kinda you'd make your S curve, but we've already adjusted on the highlights and the shadows are going to take some of that out. We just want those mid tones up a little bit and boom. So just very simply that before and after for me to what I'm going for. So that's just a little bit of how to edit photos and kinda show you guys examples of what works and what doesn't work. That being said, go out and shoot what you want. Go out and shoot where you can.