A little knowledge can go a long way in the world of photography. You may not want to study the subject or understand the technical aspects of how a camera works, but a few simple hacks can make a big difference to your results. Whether you’re shooting snaps on a smartphone or learning to use your first digital SLR, the following tips will bring great improvements to your results.
1) Move closer to your subject.
Filling the frame with your subject is the number one way to improve your pictures. Most modern cameras have zoom lenses, but moving closer to your subject generally produces better results than zooming in. This tip applies to all subjects, but it’s particularly important for pictures of people. Filling the frame with a smiling face makes a highly effective portrait picture.
2) Check the frame before you shoot.
Distractions appearing in the frame is one of the most common ways photographs are ruined. Check behind your subject for signposts, trees and building before your press the shutter button. If there’s something you don’t want in the frame, move around your subject or crop the picture more tightly.
3) Read the instructions.
Do you know if you’re using all of the functions and tools your camera has available? Even point and shoot digital cameras offer a range of shooting modes. Take the time to read the instruction manual so you’re really making the most of what your camera can do.
4) Take control of focussing.
Focussing systems inside modern digital cameras are highly sophisticated, but they still need a little help in some situations. Out of focus pictures can be a massive disappointment, so make sure you know how to focus manually when the need arises.
5) Hold and shoot correctly.
One of the most common mistakes photographers make is allowing camera shake to spoil what would have been a great picture. Shooting at slow shutter speeds can be the cause of this, but it’s often the result of not holding the camera correctly. Elbows should be tucked in close to your body, and the camera should be pressed gently against your face to keep it steady. Gently squeeze the shutter to take a picture rather than jabbing it suddenly.
6) Keep your camera clean.
The sensors inside digital cameras attract dust, and this can lead to the appearance of dark patched on your pictures. Most modern cameras offer an automatic sensor cleaning feature. Larger particles of dust can be removed with a blower brush. Keeping your lenses clean also helps to ensure image quality isn’t affected by dust.
7) Always carry spare memory cards.
You may need to take dozens of shots of a subject to get one you’re really happy with. Carrying spare memory cards means you don’t have to limit the number of pictures you take. Don’t compromise the quality of your pictures by shooting in lower quality modes. Memory cards are cheap to buy and easy to carry.
8) Don’t edit as you shoot.
Deleting pictures as you shoot can lead to mistakes. If a picture is out of focus or technically poor it makes sense to delete it to save memory space, but don’t delete one just because you don’t like it. You may change your mind later or be able to crop or edit it into a better image in the digital darkroom.
9) Switch off the camera’s flash.
Built-in flash often produces harsh shadows and high contrast. If shooting indoors with a digital SLR camera, select a higher ISO setting and switch the flash off. Move your subject into an area where the light’s better if possible rather than relying on flash.
10) Learn by your mistakes.
Even the most experienced photographers make mistakes. Technical errors are often the cause of disappointing pictures, but it can also be due to poor framing or composition. Take the time to study your pictures and learn from your mistakes.