Any good photographer realizes that a good picture requires three things: a smart photographer, a great setting, and a suitable camera. And since only one of the three categories can produce a good photograph, it’s up to the photographer to find the right setting for the picture.
1. Is your photograph scenic or just a white background? If it’s scenic and there are no people in the scene, then it’s perfectly OK to take the shot “as is.”
What that means is that you won’t need to do much with lighting or keeping the background blurred, etc. If you’re taking a portrait and have a white background, make sure you play around with the natural or artificial lighting to get the best results.
2. How will you digitally alter, or will you digitally alter the picture at all? Usually a good photograph doesn’t need much altering after the fact, but there are times when you just might need to tweak it. In such cases, you can rely on a number of different software programs to help out. Photoshop and Portrait Professional are two really good ones. I personally think Photoshop has a long learning curve, so I use Portrait Professional to do fixes on faces. I even took out some of my own wrinkles!
There are other fun and free programs which can be found online as well. Try BeFunky.com and Picnik.com. They both have a lot of features that are free to use and all you have to do is upload your picture to work on it. You can save it to their online library as well as to your own computer when you’re satisfied with your special effects.
3. How much natural light do you have in your photograph and what impact will it have on your picture? Check to see by taking more pictures. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, then move the subject until you find just the right lighting and can take the pictures at angles that look pleasing as a finished product.
4. Should you set up a photo studio? A lot of people who are just starting out will stick with using natural light for quite some time until they’re comfortable with indoor lighting. You don’t need a fancy studio with tricky lights to take some great indoor shots. I would recommend at first to simply get a bounce flash for your camera, which can be found at Amazon for a modest price. A bounce flash attaches to your camera’s hot-shoe and will bounce light off a ceiling to diffuse the light, creating a softer light source on your subject. The other thing you can do is set up a chair, a white sheet for background and open up your garage door for light. Voila! Instant studio without the artificial lights. Practice on your family members and pets.
5. Is something in the background overpowering the foreground? I once took what I thought was a great picture because of the look on the person’s face, only to realize later that he was sitting right in front of a pole and when the picture came out, it looked as if the pole was coming out of the top of his head. So keep an eye on what’s back there and move your subject as many times as necessary to get rid of a busy background.
A good setting can be just as important to your picture as the object in question. A good setting can make an entire photograph, adding an atmospheric element to the piece.