We’re all looking for ways to improve our photos, regardless of whether we just started in photography or have been at it for years.
And the great thing about photography today is that there are tons of things you can do that will help you improve the quality of your photos.
You can read tutorials, watch YouTube videos, and get gear that will facilitate better photo-taking.
In this article, I’d like to focus on a few steps you can take to ensure your photos are the highest possible quality and review some gear that will help you achieve that goal.
Stabilize Your Camera for Sharper Photos
Blurriness in photos is one of the most common problems that photographers experience, especially beginner photographers.
Yet despite being so common, it is a problem that’s easily addressed with a good tripod.
A tripod can solve the blurriness issue because no matter how sturdy of hand you think you are, there will still be minute movements as you take the photo.
But by putting your camera on a tripod, you eliminate the possibility of camera shake and ensure that the photos you take are nice and sharp.
Don’t have a tripod? Get a high-quality tripod from Sirui. Two of their most popular models – the ET-2004 Kit and the W-1004 (both shown above) – offer tons of features that make them easy to setup and use (including some models that have a built-in monopod). Sirui’s tripods are also well-priced, so you can get a great tripod without busting your budget.
Blurry photos are such a common problem that there’s another step you should take to protect against them.
That step is to work hands-free and use a camera remote.
A camera remote allows you to trigger the shutter without actually touching your camera.
The benefit of that, is, of course, that you don’t inadvertently cause your camera to move or vibrate. That means sharper photos.
Of course, not all camera remotes are alike.
The best camera remote on the market is the Alpine Labs Spark.
This thing gives you much more power over your camera than simply triggering the shutter for sharper photos.
In fact, not only can you control your camera in three different ways – as a wired remote, an infrared remote, and via an app on your phone – but you can also take still photos, long exposures, real-time videos, and time-lapse videos as well.
Perhaps best of all, Spark comes in a tiny package that sits on top of your camera, so you don’t have to lug around a big, heavy apparatus to reap all the benefits of sharper (and more creative) photos.
Combined with a good tripod, a camera remote will help you get your photos beautifully sharp and fine-tuned for maximum visual impact.
Upgrade Your Lens Game
One of the best gear upgrades you can make to get higher-quality shots is in the lens department.
The kit lenses that come packaged with many cameras are just fine for learning the ropes, but they aren’t the highest-quality glass (which is why they’re bundled with cameras).
These lenses often have plastic bodies, fewer lens elements, and lower-quality glass, which means photos that are less sharp with poorer color fidelity than higher-end glass.
What’s more, more expensive camera lenses have less aberrations, ghosting, and flare, all of which can reduce the quality of your photos.
If you’re upgrading your lens for the first time, a great choice is a 50mm lens, which is often called a “Nifty Fifty.”
These lenses are great because they are extremely versatile and can be used for anything from portraits to landscapes to architecture and just about anything in between.
They often have a very large aperture as well, so you can shoot in low-light conditions and get improved results without having to resort to using a flash or a very high ISO.
Nifty Fifties are often inexpensive, too, so you can get a great lens for your kit and not have to spend a ton of money!
Get outfitted with a higher-end lens and save money at the same time by buying a pre-owned lens. The ideal marketplace to do so is Lensfinder, which gives photographers like you and me a platform for buying (and selling) used lenses. The process is quick and easy, with tons of protections to ensure it’s a smooth transaction.
Use Filters to Add Drama
Perhaps one of the simplest steps you can take to create more eye-catching photos is to use filters.
Some photographers these days shirk the use of filters in favor of using programs like Photoshop or Lightroom to add effects in post-processing.
But if you ask me, the impact of using a good filter simply cannot be replicated when you edit the photo.
For example, if you’re shooting landscapes, a polarizing filter can do a number of things to bring out the drama in the shot.
That includes boosting the contrast of the sky, such that the blue is deeper and the white of the clouds is brighter for more pop.
Polarizing filters also reduce the glare of the sun off the surface of water and other non-metallic objects, which means viewers get to see the color of the water (and even into the water) and not be distracted by a sharp glare.
Polarizers reduce atmospheric haze as well, so viewers can see the landscape in clear, crisp beauty.
If you’re shooting portraits, you can use a neutral density filter to create an ethereal look in which there’s blurred movement in the shot.
That might be blurring water, as is the case in the image above, or it could be blurring clouds, passing cars, or even people.
You can also pair an ND filter with your flash to get improved results, or use an ND filter when shooting outside to get improved dynamic range in your photos.
Of course, ND filters are also ideal for creating landscapes with beautifully blurred motion, too.