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Learn Photography Secrets From a Pro

You don't have to hire a professional photographer to get great pictures. We have secrets from a pro to help turn your photos from just average to amazing!

"I think that a lot of people can vastly improve their pictures," said Lana Kelley, from Studio 807.

Photographer Lana Kelley teaches classes at "Studio 807" and says there are a few simple things anyone can do to get that perfect shot. First, get creative with the rule of thirds.

"Basic way to think of the rule of thirds is when you are taking pictures of your subjects instead of putting them right smack dab in the middle try putting them off to the side in the photograph," says Kelley. "By doing that you can get some pretty interesting things in your photograph. You can get many more elements into the shot."

"Take a look at some photography magazines and pick out some of the most amazing shots that you see and study them," said Kelley. "You'll find that a lot of the most amazing photographs are framed by using the rule of thirds. It really is dynamic."

Now for something a lot of people have a hard time with.

"When it comes to nighttime shots they can be tricky," said Kelley. "When you take a picture using flash, the flash fires and it lights up your subject but the problem is the background ends up being completely black."

To fix the problem flip your camera to "slow sync" mode. "It purposely slows your camera down," explains Kelley. "What that does is when the flash fires it brightens your subject in the foreground, then once the flash is done but the camera continues to take the picture that allows the background to slowly burn through on the picture itself."

Another tricky one is pets and kids. Lana says to get the best picture, get eye level.

"When you do that it creates a very intimate picture. You get on their eye level and you enter their world," said Kelley. "You'll find that the pictures are much sweeter."

And, another simple item that can make a huge difference -- reflectors.

"A lot of people will be impressed on what it can do for their photographs," said Kelley. "What you can do with a reflector, is you can simply reflect the light on the areas of the face that are not being lit by the sun."

A reflector kit costs about 40 bucks, or you can go "homemade" for the same effect.

"If you simply get yourself some poster board and you paint it the color that you like, you can create a reflector board within five minutes and for under five dollars. It's priceless what it does for your photographs," said Kelley.

Lana recommends propping up the poster board against a tripod, if you don't have someone to hold it up for you. Lana says anyone can improve the quality of their pictures, but she doesn't always recommend trying to do it yourself.

"For the most special occasions I do still tell people that it's worth it to hire a professional photographer that really knows what they are doing. That will insure that you will get really special photographs out of those occasions," said Kelley.

Additional Tips from Kelley:

Manual Focus for Action - In the world of action photography the auto focus system on your camera can be a bit slow for some situations. However there is a neat trick you can use with manual focus that helps you take quick action shots that are always in focus. For instance let's say that you want a really nice shot of a slam dunk. Well if you know you want a picture of a slam dunk then you also know where the action is going to take place&at the basket. So here's what you do. Go ahead and focus on the basket with your auto focus. Now that you have the basket in focus you can switch the focusing to manual. Now as long as you don't change your position and you don't zoom your lens the basket will always be in focus. Now just wait for the slam dunk and take the picture. If you can anticipate the action this is the fastest way to take the shot and keep the picture sharp. Also, if you happen to have a manual/auto switch on the side of your lens then you can quickly move from auto to manual and back again without needing to search through the camera menu. If your lens does not have that switch then of course you will need to make the change in the menu.

Fill Flash - Fill flash is not a button or something that you need to fiddle with in your camera's menu. It is simply a method or technique for using the flash primarily for bright daytime pictures. Most people are used to using the flash for night time pictures but when you use the flash for the daytime you can create some amazingly balanced images. For instance, when you take pictures of people on a bright sunny day the sun tends to create shadow. If you want to get rid of these shadows you can simply pop the flash up on your camera and when the flash fires it will fire only just enough light so that the shadowy areas will match the brighter areas of the picture. Don't worry; the flash will not blow out your picture because the flash is usually smart enough to know how much light to emit

Picture Adjustments - One of the greatest things about digital photography is how easy it is to manage and adjustment to your pictures on your computer. However, if you love playing around with the coloration, brightness, contrast, etc. then you should know that you may be doing more harm than good to your pictures. You may not realize it but your computer monitor may not be properly displaying the correct coloration and brightness. This means that you may be making incorrect adjustments to your pictures simply because the screen is showing you a bad representation of your picture. You should think about purchasing a screen calibrator that will allow you to make accurate adjustments to your monitor's display. Screen calibrator start at around $100 and can be found at most electronic or photography supply stores. Once you have calibrated the monitor you can have all the fun you want making the proper adjustments to your pictures. It is always a good idea to calibrate your monitor every two week to make sure you are always looking at an accurate display.

For more on photography classes at Studio 807 visit everydayphotoclass.com. Check out their Facebook page at facebook.com.

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