Don’t be scared
Don’t be scared. If you shoot digital take advantage, buy a big memory card and shoot as much as possible. The more you shoot the more you will learn. You can now get a 4GB SD Memory Card for under $5 so cost is not an excuse!
If possible always shoot RAW so
If possible always shoot RAW so you can make changes during post processing and not lose image quality.
Fill the frame
Fill the frame. Too many amateurs fail to do this. Don’t have your subject small in mid frame, zoom in and make them fill the whole thing!
Learn to preview shots along with
Learn to preview shots along with the histogram on your cameras LCD to ensure you have the right exposure. It can be tricky to tell from looking at the LCD on the camera, especially in sunny conditions.
Don’t waste your money on
Don’t waste your money on more mega pixels. More mega pixels simply means you can print your image out bigger without losing quality. How many time do you want poster sized prints?
Best place to spend your money on
The best place to spend money is on lenses. Save up for good ones rather than buying cheap ones.
If you own a Canon slr buy a 50mm f1.8 prime lens. It is the best value lens for money, not to mention the cheapest on the market!
Always keep a spare camera battery in your bag
Always keep a spare camera battery in your bag. Sods law states your power will run out just as that killer shot enters the frame. Don’t miss it.
Learn from others
Learn from others. Take a trip over to flickr, or stay here on DA and browse work by other photographers to see what they are doing differently from you.
Use the rule of thirds to help
Use the rule of thirds to help you compose more appealing looking shots.
Don’t blame your kit
Don’t blame your kit. Even the most entry level digital SLRs are capable of producing fantastic professional looking photographs. More often than not the fault lies with the operator.
Why not take a home photography
Why not take a home photography course to help you learn more about your art!
Learn to look for good light
Learn to look for good light. The best light for shooting is around sun rise and sun set. The light at these times is warmer than the mid day bright light.
Switch to shooting B&W
Switch to shooting black and white once in a while. For some reason B&W can make even the most boring shots look interesting!
You can always shoot in color and play around and change shots to monochrome or black and white during post processing.
If shooting portraits indoors
If shooting portraits indoors try some low light shots for increased drama.
Don’t waste money on expensive
Don’t waste money on expensive camera bags. Make your own!
Avoid the center of the frame
Avoid the center of the frame. Photographs always seem more interesting when you place the main subject off center.
Get closer! Don’t waste any space
Get closer! Don’t waste any space in your shots! Get closer than you normally would to create shots with more impact.
Crop! During post processing always consider a few different crops for each shot. A well placed crop can completely change the focus of a picture.
Avoid lens flare by investing in a lens
Avoid lens flare by investing in a lens hood for your lenses. (Lens flare is usually seen as light reflections in your photographs).
Always carry your camera with you
Always carry your camera with you. As soon as you start doing this you’ll be amazed by how often you see and benefit from great photo opportunities you would have previously missed.
Look out for reflective surfaces
Look out for reflective surfaces. Shots of reflection can be great for seeing things from a new perspective.
Find a theme
Find a theme. Stuck for inspiration? Try coming up with a theme from which to take a series of shots. It can be anything: sleeping dogs, laughing kids, bridges, seasonal weather, whatever tickles your fancy.
Find a good backdrop
Find a good backdrop. No photo with a building site in the background is going to be an award winner. Always consider what is behind your subject before shooting the frame.
Look for natural frames
Look for natural frames. Use old windows, arches, door frames etc to create a natural in shot frame around you subject in order to create naturally proportioned shots.
Use leading lines
Use leading lines. A shot with say a set of railway lines heading into the distance will draw the viewers eye though the photograph – keep on the lookout for leading lines like these.
Learn to use manual mode
Learn to use manual mode. It is much easier than you think and will open up a whole new world of photography to you.
Learn the basics of the photography triangle
Learn the basics of the photography triangle. Knowing how aperture, shutter speed and ISO interact will help you ensure you get the right exposure.
Shooting a portrait back lit by
Shooting a portrait back lit by bright sunshine? To avoid an under exposed face zoom in, meter of the face and set your shutter speed then zoom back out and take the shot. This way the subjects face will be perfectly exposed.
Play with off camera flash
Play with off camera flash. By moving your flash off camera (either with leads or infrared transmitters) you open up a whole new lighting world.
Unless you want grainy looking shots
Unless you want grainy looking shots always aim to have your ISO set as low as possible (100). Use ISO as a last resort if light levels are too low to get a decent shot without it.
Go back to basics
Go back to basics. Go buy a cheap old film camera to play around with. You can pick them up for peanuts and when restricted to 24 or 36 exposures you’ll find yourself thinking a lot more about your shots before you fire the shutter – a good habit to get into.
Always be on the look out for candid shots.
Always be on the look out for candid shots. Some of the best shots are taken with the subject not looking at the camera. Try and capture people doing their usual things rather than posing artificially for shots.
To learn more try to read some photography books. You’ll surprise yourself by how much there is to learn.
Invest in a tripod
Invest in a tripod. If you want decent sunset, sunrise or landscape shots then you’ll need to invest in a tripod.
Find a new angle
Find a new angle. You don’t always have to be head on to your subject. Try kneeling down to get a shot or getting up high on a bridge looking down. Varied angles often give a fresh perspective on a scene.
Be patient. A pro exhibiting their work will have often spent months shooting images for a show of about 25 photographs. Don’t expect to come back with a memory card full of killer shots every time.
Buy cheap UV filters to put on the
Buy cheap UV filters to put on the front of your lenses to help protect damaging them in case of accidental knocks and scrapes.
Only got a split second to
Only got a split second to snap a scene before it disappears yet still want professional looking results? Switch out of manual mode to Aperture priority (AV) mode, select your aperture (for the required depth of field, switch to auto focus and shoot. Leave the shutter speed to your cameras light meter.
Want to save money on
Want to save money on lenses? Make a friend with the same brand of camera and buy different lenses and get in the habit of swapping kit every few weeks.
Want a retro look in your photos?
Want a retro look in your photos? In photoshop try upping the color saturation and applying a vignette.
It is still possible to get blurred shots
It is still possible to get blurred shots caused by camera shake despite using a tripod – caused by the movement from you pressing the shutter release button. To avoid this either use a remote or if you don’t have one set your cameras delay timer allowing any vibrations to dissipate between you pressing the button and the shutter releasing.
Are you scoping out possible locations for
Are you scoping out possible locations for a killer landscape shot or see a scene you must come back later to shoot? If so avoid forgetting by taking a quick shot with your cell phones camera.
Are you worried about your lenses
Are you worried about your lenses rattling around in your camera bag and knocking into each other? A cheap solution is to use some old hiking socks cut down as home made lens cases. Just be sure to wash them first!
Create extra depth in your images by
Create extra depth in your images by always trying to have something of interest to the viewer in both the foreground and the background.
Avoid getting yellow looking indoor shots
Avoid getting yellow looking indoor shots. Learn how to adjust the white balance setting on your camera according to the lighting conditions you are shooting in.
Make time every few weeks or
Make time every few weeks or so to sit back and look through some shots you have taken a while ago. You will always get a new feeling about such shots and you can hopefully see what you did right or wrong more clearly than just after a shoot.
If you are photographing something
If you are photographing something unpredictable, erratic and fast moving such as your kids playing sport try using your cameras continuous shooting mode. This mode will allow you to hold down the shutter release button and let the camera fire of multiple shots per second – increasing your chances of catching a decent shot.
Fancy becoming a wedding photographer?
Fancy becoming a wedding photographer? Use weddings of your family and friends to get some practice in and build up your portfolio.
Are you thinking about investing all
Are you thinking about investing all your hard earned cash in a new expensive lens? If so it makes sense to try before you buy and rent a lens for a few days to be sure that it will be the right purchase and you’ll have no regrets.
Look for contrast in your shots
Look for contrast in your shots. Aim to shoot subjects with strong elements of light and shadow in order to achieve more dramatic shots.
Get down low
Get down low. All to often us photographers miss the best shots because we always lift the camera up to our faces. Try lying on the ground to get a different perspective now and again.
Use the Sunny 16 rule to quickly estimate the
Use the Sunny 16 rule to quickly estimate the correct shutter speed. The rule states that on a sunny day set your aperture to f16 then set your shutter speed to match your ISO. 1/125 of a second for ISO 100, 1/250 of a second for ISO200, 1/500 for ISO 400 and so on.
Expose to the right.
Expose to the right. When using a histogram to ensure you get a correct exposure you should aim to have most of the pixels towards the right (light) side of the graph. This will ensure well exposed highlights and great detailed photographs.
Why not make your hobby pay?
Why not make your hobby pay? By selling your images on stock photography sites you can make your hobby pay for itself!
If you currently own a cropped sensor
If you currently own a cropped sensor camera and think you might want to upgrade to a full frame sensor body at some point in the future make sure that any future lens purchases are compatible with both types of sensor. If you don’t do this you may end up having to buy a whole new stable of lenses as well as a camera!
By using plastic LCD Screen Protectors
By using plastic LCD Screen Protectors you can prevent your cameras lcd screen from scratches and dirt – great for when you want to sell your camera to upgrade!
Learn to manipulate light.
Learn to manipulate light. Photography is the art of capturing light with your camera. Learn to manipulate the light by using multiple light sources (lamps, the sun, flashes – whatever is available). Use diffusers, snoots and reflectors to help you control the light in your shots.
When looking back at old shots
When looking back at old shots always refer to the exif data. This is the data attached to pictures that contains the cameras settings when the shot was taken (aperture, shutter speed ISO etc). By looking at this data you can often see why shots worked or failed helping you learn from you past successes or failures.
Don’t forget to use your flash outside
Don’t forget to use your flash outside. Though it seems silly (especially on a sunny day) using the flash can help light up your subject (what is known as ‘fill flash’. This is particularly useful for avoiding silhouetting your subject when the sun is shining from behind them.
When taking sunsets or
When taking sunsets or sunrises set your white balance to daylight and not auto as your camera will often be fooled by the low light. Better still use manual white balance mode if possible.
Back up now
Back up now. It is amazing how many photographers still do not back up all of their images. You can now get a 1 TB External Hard Drive for about $100. Do yourself a favor, buy one, back up all your photo’s to it every couple of weeks and store it somewhere safe (ideally not in the same building as your normal pc. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Are you continually running out of
Are you continually running out of space on your hard drive? When sorting through your shots after going out on a shoot select the images to definitely keep and move them to your storage area as opposed to selecting the shots to delete. You’ll find by doing this you end up keeping a lot less ‘average’ images and will be left with much better quality shots.
Where possible try to avoid your
Where possible try to avoid your cameras built in flash. While it can be useful sometimes it often leaves your subjects brightly lit in cold harsh light. If possible invest in an external flash and a diffuser and learn how to use it.
When taking portraits try to
When taking portraits try to talk to your subjects. It will not only help them relax but may also help you get some more candid laughing shots depending on how funny you are!
Just starting to learn how to
Just starting to learn how to use your cameras manual mode? Every shot you take first take one in auto mode followed by one or two in manual mode. By comparing the settings and results of these shots you will quickly see what has worked best and why.
If not using a tripod or
If not using a tripod or monopod always try to brace yourself when shooting by leaning on a wall or resting your camera on a car roof when shooting. Doing so will give you sharper images, even if you are using relatively quick shutter speeds.
Next time you can’t seem to
Next time you can’t seem to get the right exposure try metering the light off the palm of your hand. More often than not this part of you will be close to 18% gray which is what you need to meter off so if you do not carry a gray card use your hand instead!
During walkabout photography once
During walkabout photography once you have taken your shot, always try to return your camera to ‘average settings’. That way if you see a great scene unfold you’ll be ready to snap away and won’t miss out while you fumble with your settings.
Draw with light by setting your camera up
Draw with light by setting your camera up for say a 30 second exposure at night. As the shutter is open take a flash light and draw a person/shape in the frame. The results can be spectacular
If you are shooting with a compact
If you are shooting with a compact camera a nifty trick is to hold your sunglasses up to the lens to act like a polarizing filter to reduce glare and reflections and increase the color saturation. You may need to take a couple of shots to ensure you do not get the frames in the picture.
Don’t stick to the rules.
Don’t stick to the rules. It is easy to think you can learn photography by reading the theory. Don’t forget that you can also discover it by experimenting and trying out new techniques, perspectives and subjects. Do what ever feels right.
If you like street photography it can
If you like street photography it can be worth while getting some cards made up. That way if confronted by someone about taking their picture you can explain you are not a pervert but an artist. Hand them a card, give them a smile and they’ll usually walk away feeling happy you chose to take their photo!
Can’t decide whether to keep or
Can’t decide whether to keep or delete an image? Ask yourself if you would hang it up on your wall. If the answer is no then you should probably delete it.
Even if you have no ambitions to
Even if you have no ambitions to turn pro or semi-pro it can be great to build a portfolio. You can do this for free by signing up to a site like flickr and DA and only putting your best photographs on your photo stream. Building a portfolio like this will help you critique your own work more and raise your standards!
When taking a shot before firing the
When taking a shot before firing the shutter take a few moments to look around the rest of the frame. Make sure all of the photograph is of interest and helps to tell the story of the photograph. If it doesn’t consider recomposing the shot.
Set yourself a challenge to take
Set yourself a challenge to take one good photograph a day. Even if you are tired, out of time and not in the mood you’ll be amazed how you can get a great interesting looking photo from the most seemingly uninspiring subjects. Forcing yourself to do this will help you to see more creatively.
This may seem an obvious one but
This may seem an obvious one but sit down and read your cameras manual. I guarantee you will find at least one really useful piece of functionality that you currently don’t even know exists.
Want to shoot some great city-scapes?
Want to shoot some great city-scapes? Try to find the multi-story parking lot where you’ll usually find some great views over the city and a fresh perspective from your ground level shots.
Don’t let the rain put you off
Don’t let the rain put you off. On wet days you can still get some great moody looking shots – try shooting through a rain covered window to get that dreary almost dream like effect.
Something as simple as a large piece of
Something as simple as a large piece of white paper can be used as a light reflector of still-life or portraits. Experiment and see what a difference something as simple as this makes.
Does your son always end up
Does your son always end up with his eyes shut in your photographs by blinking at the wrong time? A simple trick is to tell him to close his eye and only open them when you say. Take the frame just after you say “Now”. I guarantee he’ll have his eyes open and he’ll most likely have a big smile on his face too!
If you are struggling to get
If you are struggling to get your focus right when taking a self portrait try this trick. Turn out the lights and hold a small flash light up next to your eye. Half press your remote shutter release to auto focus and lock it. Now turn the lights back on and sit down again and your camera should be perfectly focused on your eyes.
If you are using a compact camera learn to
If you are using a compact camera learn to recognize when your camera is using optical and digital zoom. Where possible always try and stick to just optical zoom to prevent losing quality from your images.
When traveling or on vacation, a great
When traveling or on vacation, a great way to make sure you photograph all the right things is to grab a few brochures or leaflets. They’ll usually be full of photographs taken of all the major attractions and from the best angles. Use this as a start but by all means get out there and look for something more unique/off the beaten track as well.
If you can’t get the right exposure don’t be
If you can’t get the right exposure don’t be afraid to switch to AV mode or even auto and take a shot. If it comes out okay take a look at the settings the camera chose – that way you’ll know what to do next time.
It is worth checking the website of your cameras
It is worth checking the website of your cameras manufacturer every now and again. Quite often firms release new software releases of your cameras firmware that will improves it’s functionality. In addition they often have a dedicated support area on their website to answer camera specific questions.
Create your own presets.
Create your own presets. Most digital slr cameras allow you to create and store your own presets. Once you find some settings you like store them away so you can easily reproduce them again.
With modern camera batteries it is
With modern camera batteries it is usually good practice to let them fully discharge about once a month before recharging. Doing so can help to increase the life of your battery in the long run.
Do you keep noticing small spots in
Do you keep noticing small spots in your photos? This might be a sign that you have dust on your cameras sensor. If you are sure your lens is clean consider investing in a sensor cleaning kit.
Want to photograph fireworks?
Want to photograph fireworks? Then ensure you; focus to infinity, use a tripod and use long shutter speeds (try between half a second and 5 seconds).
Don’t become over reliant on programs like
Don’t become over reliant on programs like photo shop to fix problems in your photographs. When possible take you time to get it right when you take the shot.
Look for the un-obvious shot.
Look for the un-obvious shot. For example if you are out shooting the football game try turning your camera round onto the crowd where you’ll almost certainly get some great photo opportunities to capture their reactions to events on the field.
If photographing quick moving subjects
If photographing quick moving subjects you may want to use your cameras auto/continuous focus tracking mode. This will get your camera to track the moving object and continually readjust the focus allowing you concentrate on getting the composition right.
Enjoy your photography.
Enjoy your photography. Don’t beat yourself up if you get no decent shots on a shoot. This happens to even the pros. The only way to respond is to get out there and shoot some more!