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Some Tricks Taking Better Photos

Understand The Field Of View… You can choose to go one of two ways when taking a photograph: you can take a wide angle shot, in order to capture everything (or as much as possible) in your scene; or, you can use zoom lenses (or, in some situations, macro lenses), to focus on a narrow or small portion of the entire scene. For instance, you could be at an event, such as the Geneva Motor Show (for argument’s sake)… inside the massive arena, you could go to one of the galleried landings and take a photograph that takes in a large portion of the arena, with many different car stands and people milling about. Or, while up there, providing you’ve got a long enough zoom lens, you could zoom in on a specific aspect, such as a particular car. With each photographic situation, you’re providing those who view your photos with a different perspective – you’re playing about with the Field of View, either to show as much as possible of the environment you’re in; or, you’re excluding as much as possible, to focus on a small selection of things, or a specific detail of something.

Understand Composition… There are two techniques that can help you with improving how you compose your shots, which will go some way to improving your photographs. The first technique is known as the Rule of Thirds. To understand this, imagine that the frame is split into nine rectangles, made by two sets of horizontal lines and two sets of vertical lines, evenly spaced across the frame. These lines will create four points (where the horizontal and vertical lines cross paths), and the idea is that your images will look better if you place interesting or important subjects in your frame, at one of these four points. The other technique involves a similar process, but in this instance you’re splitting the frame into four boxes, to create four quadrants, giving rise to the name of this technique: Power Quadrants. The idea, here, is that you place your key subject in one of the four quadrants, and for some reason, this can help to make a photo more interesting, than if you were to try and centralize your subject within the frame. Try it.

Understand The Point Of View¬†… This is slightly different to Field of View. When you select a specific Point of View, you’re playing about with the angle at which you’re taking the photograph, such as getting up high to take a “bird’s eye” shot of your surrounding scene; or, getting down low and shooting upwards, to get more of a “worm’s eye” view. Different positions or angles will also give a different feel or mood to the image, and can also affect opinions about the subject. For instance, you can make someone look important and powerful, by taking the photo from a lower position and angling your lens up toward your subject. However, if you wanted to make a person or subject seem small or less powerful, you can photograph them from a higher angle, with your lens pointing down at them. When you shoot someone with your lens at the same height, pointing directly at them without any angling up or down of the lens, it has the effect of humanizing them – it’s a good idea, therefore, if you want to humanize a child in a photo, to get down to their level to take their picture.

Incorporating Leading Lines… In some cases, it can be helpful, to those viewing your images, to provide a subtle guide to help visually walk them through the photos. The classic leading line is a road that goes off into the frame, perhaps to guide the eye from the edge of the photo, in to a prominent tree or monument. If you had more than one interesting or important subjects in your shot, you might find a way of incorporating a leading line, that takes the viewer from one subject, to the other, and then leads their eye back to the first subject. Fences; hands; fingers; arms; ropes; and pathways – these are all examples of objects that make for good leading lines, to help move your viewer(s) through your photos, subtly enhancing the appeal of your images.

Look For And Understand Light… A single light source, such as the sun, can create different photographs, just by the angle at which you take the image, in relation to that source of light. For instance, if you’re shooting with the sunlight coming from behind you or just off to the side, providing the light isn’t blocked on its path to your subject (e.g. by trees or buildings or clouds), this is going to help illuminate your subject. But, if you were to move around to the other side of your subject, so that the sunlight is pointing directly at you/your camera, with your subject in between, this is going to result in a silhouetting of your subject. Each photograph will convey different moods. It’s the same light source, you’re just taking your camera to a different position, to change how the source of light affects the resulting photo. Different types of light that can alter an image, include side light (e.g. sunlight coming at an angle to the left or right of your subject); filtered light (e.g. sunlight being diffused, and thus softened, as it passes through clouds, which acts like a giant filter); direct light (e.g. use of an external flash, pointing directly at your subject); and reflected light (e.g. use of of an external flash, pointing at a lightly colored wall, so that the wall acts as a giant surface to reflect the light back toward the subject, giving a more even spread of light, which tends to enhance the overall quality of light onto your subject).

Use The Correct Exposure… As you point your lens at something, such as a cityscape scene, the camera looks at all the tones, and then it’s making an average exposure based on the light. It’s because of this averaging process (due to the limited range of light sensitivity of the sensor), that causes the camera to make certain areas of the image dark and make light other areas of the same scene, depending on the settings you choose (such as aperture and shutter speed). There is an Exposure guide on most digital cameras that shows a “+/-0” symbol, to tell you when the camera has calculated a correct exposure, based on the settings of your camera (e.g. through a combination of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings). However, because of the camera’s limited ability to handle all the available light data, you may need to step in and compensate, either by boosting or decreasing the exposure, by way of the Exposure Compensation dial. You are likely going to need to OVEREXPOSE the Exposure Compensation setting, if you have a lot of white, or light, in your image. Conversely, you will likely need to UNDEREXPOSE, if there are lots of dark things in your scene.