Take Better Photos With Your Canon Rebel T3i – Photography Tips

Taking good shots is not usually something that happens by accident. There are actually schools that train folks to become photographers… certified, accredited schools where you can invest LOTS of money to become a photographer.

But you can start right now – “learn how to use a Canon Rebel T3i” and get better immediately by just taking a few suggestions to heart.

If you still need to learn about your T3i and how it functions, I suggest going to lynda.com. and “cashing in” on their 7 day free trial. You can probably learn what you need without having to spend anything at all. However, let me warn you, I started a free trial at Lynda several years ago, and I am still a paying member. The amount of material there is so worth the fee each month.

Watch this sample video by Ben Long:

Get 7 days of free unlimited access to lynda.com.

Now, here are 7 quick tips that will get you off and running.

1. Get your camera off auto.

Canon Rebel T3i mode dial

Move your Canon Rebel T3i OFF auto

I’m not sure if there is an actual statistic on this, but a majority of casual photographers NEVER move their mode dial off Auto. This is a crime. Zig Ziglar was famous for this statement: “If you keep doing what you have been doing, you will keep getting what you have been getting.” In other words, if you don’t get that Canon T3i off of Auto, you will not improve your shots.

At the very least, experiment with the Basic modes dial. Find out what happens when you put the dial on Landscape or Macro or Portrait.

And after you have that figured out, try out the Creative Modes, starting with Aperture priority. They don’t call them “creative” for nothing. You can really make some amazing discoveries when you start to take control of your camera settings.

2. You don’t need the next best piece of equipment (there is no silver bullet).

I am as guilty as anyone about wanting the newest gadget for my Canon Rebel T3i, whether it’s a better lens or a carbon alloy tripod with a multi-million dollar ball head. But, quite honestly, it’s the person that holds the equipment that makes more of a difference than the amount of equipment he or she is holding. Your T3i is an awesome camera that can take some amazing photos even if you don’t have the “L” lens on your wish list.

For almost every expensive equipment item, there is a cheaper alternative. You just have to think creatively to find it. But as a beginner, you probably don’t have to invest thousands in studio lighting or 600mm lenses. There are ways to get shots that look like you have the “good stuff”, but you will have to use some patience and out-of-the-box thinking.

Chickadee - Canon Rebel T3i bird photo

Taken from my kitchen window – no special equipment needed.

Here’s a simple example.. I wanted to be able to take pictures of birds that would wow my family and friends. The images I was seeing in magazines and online were taken with some extremely expensive cameras and equipment that I simply could not afford. My solution was to bring the birds closer. It took patience and thought, but I eventually figured out how to create bird feeders out of old discarded limbs and attached them to my deck. The pictures look like they are taken “in the wild” when they are actually right outside my window. Of course, I don’t get bald eagles soaring past my kitchen window, but I am satisfied with the results, and my wife has no problem with me spending $0.00 for equipment.

3. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with getting your camera off Auto, but there is more to it than that. As a photographer, you learn as you experiment, and this includes things like changing your position and your angle of view.
The neat thing with digital is that you don’t have to pay for the film, so take lots of pictures, even if you don’t think they will work out. Get up close or move farther away. Change the ISO and white balance. If it doesn’t look good, the delete button costs nothing.

4. Study your shots to discover what you did right (or wrong).

Once you start taking those un-ordinary shots, make sure you look to see which ones you like so you will know how to duplicate the effect. Likewise, if something does not work, put it in your memory bank as something to avoid in the future.

You can also study the shots of others that you admire. There is nothing wrong with trying to get the same shot as someone else because it appeals to you. In fact, that is yet another way to learn about how your T3i works. If you were to go to Photography School, part of your study would be to examine the great photographers’ work so that you can do the same kind of shots.

5. Don’t overlook a shot because it looks too boring.

Canon Rebel T3i - tennis shoes

Even articles of clothing or shoes can be interesting

Don’t forget that your camera’s storage card will hold literally hundreds or thousands of shots. Passing up a shot should not happen, even if it is a pair of shoes or a piece of jewelry on a hand or earlobe. I can’t tell you how many times the details of an image have turned out so much more interesting than I imagined. Once you focus on a smaller area of the world, everything changes. You blot out all the distractions around that object and it takes on a whole new meaning or appearance.

6. Check out YouTube on a regular basis.

The Internet is an amazing source of inspiration and learning. If someone has thought of it, someone else has made a video of how to do it. This is true of photography, too.

Don’t know how to take a product shot of your watch? YouTube has the answer, and you can probably do it with equipment and tools you already have laying around your home.

Want to figure out how to use your flash to get rid of shadows? YouTube, baby!

(This photographer really knows his stuff… you should subscribe to his channel)

7. Start from the beginning.

Don’t try to advance faster than your understanding develops. This is a personal shortcoming. I typically want to know everything there is to know before I master the first thing.

Work slowly and build upon your success. Make sure you understand the basics before you try to master the complex.

Always be ready to get the shot.

Take that Canon Rebel T3i with you wherever you go. Taking bad shots is ok, but missing the shot altogether because you did not have your camera is inexcusable. Sure, there are some places where it is not appropriate or maybe inconvenient to carry your camera, but these times are not as often as you may think.

Don’t worry about looking like a tourist. In fact, don’t worry about looking like anything. Just get the shot. Be aggressive. The worst that can happen is that someone will tell you that it is not OK to take pictures. This may happen in a museum or at Whole Foods (yes, it happened to yours truly when I was trying to take some pictures of the beautiful fruit on display).

They won’t lock you up or anything. Just be agreeable and move to another location. But don’t assume anything. Start shooting and don’t stop until someone asks you to.

That’s it. Just keep shooting!