PHOTOGRAPHY TUTORIALS & TIPS
Free Photography Tutorials, Beginners to Advanced

Photography - My Top Ten Tips

For those people who don't like to read a lot, here are my 'Top Ten Tips'. Most of these tips appear elsewhere, in the tutorials. But here they are, all in one place.

1) Selection

Select only the best of your pictures to show to others and leave the rest in the drawer. Showing someone every picture you have taken dilutes the effect of the best pictures and gets very boring. You may want to show twenty pictures of little Johnny at the park because they are all quite good and you can't decide which are the best but, trust me, you will be better off making that decision and showing only the few good ones. - go to Selecting Photos

2) Turn the Camera on it's Side

At first it feels awkward holding the camera on it's side, but it is worth getting used to. If the shape of your subject, a person or a building, fits into an upright rectangle, you waste so much picture space if you shoot in landscape. You paid for all those millions of pixels, don't waste them. - go to Cropping and Framing

3) Framing

One of the easiest ways to improve your photography is with careful attention to framing. Look into the corners of the viewfinder to see what is there. Do you need all that background? Can you get closer to your subject or zoom in? - go to Cropping and Framing

4) Direction of Lighting

Photography is all about light, the direction of the light falling on your subject is most important, you must look at your subject carefully and see how the shadows fall.

If you are able to choose the time of day to shoot your pictures, try to pick a time when the sun is low in the sky, either shoot in the early morning or late afternoon. Shooting pictures of people with the sun too high in the sky, tends to mean the subject's eyes will be in shadow and/or your subject will be squinting in the strong light, both of which tend to look horrible. A nice side effect of shooting in the early morning or late afternoon is that the color of the light is 'warmer', reds and yellows are stronger which generally gives a more pleasing effect.

If you are photographing in sunlight, try to position yourself so that the sun hits your subject from the side, this will give you nice 'modeling' and help create a 3D effect in the picture.

Sunlight behind the subject can give a very pleasing 'backlight' effect but be careful that you are not getting 'flare' in the lens, which degrades the contrast of the image. - go to Photography in Sunlight

5) Direction of Lighting (2)

The very worst kind of lighting is provided by the little flash fitted into all modern cameras. Not only does it give your subjects the dreaded red eyes, but also flattens all faces into shadow-less featureless blobs. Use the in camera flashlight only in an emergency, when there is no other choice.

6) In Camera Flash

When you have to use the in camera flash, keep your subject(s) away from walls, especially light colored ones, if at all possible, and avoid that ugly black shadow which looks like an outline. This will not show up against a dark background.

camera exposure

7) Exposure

Using auto exposure to your advantage.

If you have a modern camera, the chances are that the default metering system is 'center weighted average', which means that, although it takes an average reading of the whole scene, it takes more notice of what is in the middle of the frame. Which is good news for us. The other good news is that it takes this reading at the time when you take 'first pressure' on the button to take your picture. When you push it halfway down and it beeps at you, not only is the focus now set (on an auto focus camera) but the exposure reading is taken and the aperture and shutter speed are set. So, if your main point of interest is not in the 'center of the frame, it's a good idea to put it there temporarily while you focus and take your light reading, then move the camera whilst still holding the button halfway down and compose the picture the way you want it to be. A common use for this technique is when you are taking a close up shot of two people and there is space between their heads, if you're not careful the camera will focus on the wall or trees behind them. If the background is very dark or very light this can alter the exposure significantly and result in faces that are too dark or too light. - go to Exposure

8) Shutter Speeds

When the shutter speed is important as with moving objects, it's a good idea to set the camera to 'Shutter Speed Priority' mode. This is where you select the shutter speed and the camera selects the appropriate aperture according to the light reading. - go to Shutter Speeds and Apertures

9) Apertures

If depth of field is important to either make sure everything is in focus or to throw some things out of focus, select the 'Aperture Priority' mode on your camera. In this mode you select the aperture and the camera selects the shutter speed according to the available light. - go to Shutter Speeds and Apertures

10) Neutral Density Filters

If you are shooting in bright light and want to restrict the depth of field, use a neutral density filter in front of the lens to reduce the light entering the lens. These are available in different densities, 2x, 4x, 8x etc. each one cutting the light in half, quarter, eighth etc. In extreme circumstances you can screw a couple of them together. Although they are 'neutral density' filters and should not effect the color balance, if you use two or more together you might need a little color correction at the printing stage. - go to Shutter Speeds and Apertures

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