Some basic photographic advice.
(Printable word doc - click here)
MOVE IN CLOSER.
time you spot a subject, snap a shot and then move in closer for a
better shot. Having your subject almost fill the frame helps your viewer
understand and appreciate your photo. Also, details are often more
interesting than an overall view.
Keep moving in closer until you are sure the photo will successfully represent your subject.
it is at all possible that your subject may move, bolt, fly away, stop
smiling, or just get tired of waiting for you to take the picture, shoot
once right away.
Practice getting quicker and quicker to shoot your photographs.
not worry about taking too many pictures and do not wait until you're
absolutely certain all the knobs and buttons are in their correct
As it used to say in the old cowboy films "Shoot First, Ask Questions Later
Strive to lead the eye along an interesting path through the photo, with the use of strong lines or patterns.
- Keep the horizon level;
- Crop out extra elements that you are not interested in.
place your subject where you think it most belongs rather than just
accepting it wherever it happens to land in the photo;
- Play with perspective so that all lines show a pattern or lead the eye to your main subject;
what you are really interested in and center your efforts on getting
the best photo of this subject, whether it a still life, your cat, your
dog, a friend, a family occasion, a mood, a place or culture.
Keep anything that would distract out of the picture.
easiest way to do this is to watch your borders - the edges of the view
you see through the camera's viewfinder. Then recompose if anything -
such as an unattractive telephone pole, a tree, a distracting sign, your
finger, or your camera strap - hangs into your picture.
It can become more difficult if you want to, for example, shoot a Double decked London bus without a single distracting telephone line. But even in such a difficult case, you have many options.
- Focus in on a close-up that tells the whole story;
- Move around until you arrange the telephone lines into a neat pattern that leads to the subject.
FOCUS ON YOUR SUBJECT.
will find that a smaller depth-of-field (and smaller f-stop) focuses
all the attention upon your subject. This is great for taking a picture
of your child, your dog, or your wife - subjects stand out best against a
Likewise, you will find that a
greater depth-of-field (bigger f-stop number) will make everything from
here to infinity appear in focus. This will help make those landscapes
fascinating and lovely.
LEARN TO CAPTURE TIME.
of the most basic overlooked and fun aspects of photography is that you
have the power to slow time down or catch a split second.
image happens so slowly that we could never see it and the other
happens so quickly in real time that we would never notice it. Play with
Use a slow shutter speed and a
tripod to make a pretty picture of any river or stream. On the other
hand, you can use a fast shutter speed (1/500 and up) to capture an
object in motion.
LOOK AT THE LIGHT.
is essential to see what kind of light you are working with. Which way
are the shadows falling? Unless you want a silhouette effect, where your
subject is black against an interesting background, it's generally best
to shoot with the sun behind you.
How is the light affecting your subject? Is the subject squinting?
the light blazing directly and brightly upon your whole subject? This
works well if you are in love with the bold colours of your subject.
Side lighting, on the other hand, can add drama but can also cause extreme, hard-to-print contrasts.
Lastly, indirect light can be used to make your subject glow soft and pretty.
LOOK AT THE WEATHER.
Look outside and decide whether or not you are going to want to have the sky in your picture.
it's overcast, simply keep the sky out of your pictures as much as
possible. This is usually the best way to avoid both muted tones in your
subject and washed-out skies in your background. You might also find
black and white pictures of an overcast day more pleasing than colour.
When the day is beautiful, go ahead and make the most of it.
If your camera allows for the use of filters, purchase a polarising filter.
This will help you render deep blue skies against bright white clouds,
richly contrasting colors, and other wonderful effects with a simple
twist of the wrist.
KEEP IT SIMPLE.
you may wish to have a camera case packed with spare lenses, flash
units and other gadgets “just in case”, you will probably get the best
results if you do not try to use them all the time and instead learn a
simple set up that works best for you in most situations.
doesn't necessarily mean keeping your camera set on "Program" - while
this mode may be perfect in its simplicity, it may limit your
Instead of relying on a fully automatic
program, pick a simple, semi-automatic program such as aperture-priority
and master shooting in that mode. Then, you'll be able to control
certain basics without letting the other basics control you, and thus
keep that 150 page manual where it belongs - in your camera bag.
Dave Latham, Sunset Designs. www.sunset-designs.com