Photocrafty: how to take better pictures

Photocrafty is a fun, quirky and visual guide to making the most of your Digital SLR. Its refreshingly non-technical, low-fi approach will appeal to photographers of all abilities, allowing you to produce fantastic shots and improve your SLR confidence along the way. Discover 75 projects to try at home, or out and about, with minimal faff and very few pieces of equipment, just by following simple step-by-step instructions. From mastering basic camera techniques like shutter zoom and light trails to more crafty projects such as fish-eye effects and pin-hole shots, this book has a range of ideas for beginners and more experienced photographers wanting to try something a bit different. 

Don’t put your DSLR camera away just because the nights are drawing in.  The festive season offers great opportunities for dramatic shots; fun fairs, night markets, Christmas lights and candle lit carols to name but a few. To get pro-looking pictures when the light is poor you need to master your camera’s shutter speed and ISO, whilst holding your shot steady. Using a long exposure allows you to get some really creative photos, as any moving object will appear as a blur, whilst stationary objects will be pin sharp. Experiment with capturing light trails by shooting moving lights – traffic or fairgrounds are ideal subjects for this type of shot.

First, put your camera in shutter priority mode – ‘TV’ (for Time Variant) on a Canon Camera or ‘S’ (for Shutter) on a Nikon. This semi-automatic setting allows you to set the shutter speed and the camera cleverly figures out the aperture itself. Now use the wheel to scroll through, until you’ve set a long exposure time e.g. 3 seconds (this will appear as 3” on your screen). Having a long exposure allows your cameras sensor plenty of time to soak up the ambient light. Now make sure your camera's ISO is below 400. ISO affects your cameras sensitivity to light. It’s brilliant for shooting at night, but setting it too high will affect the picture quality and can make your images appear grainy. Next fix the camera on a rock-solid surface, preferably a tripod, or a wall or counter surface can do just as well. 

Long exposures are all about being experimental. Once you have taken your shot review it on the LCD screen. If the image looks too dark it's ‘under-exposed’, and you need to increase your exposure time by making the shutter speed even slower. Or you could increase your camera's ISO. If your image is ‘over-exposed’ and areas of the image will appear too white, with a loss of detail, then decrease your exposure time or lower your ISO. If you have had enough of your photos being a blur then experiment with upping your ISO and dialling in a faster shutter speed. This will freeze motion and make people appear sharp even in low lighting. Perfect.

So wrap up warm, grab your camera and visit some cool places.