July 16, 2024
Backlighted Fall Color / bwb-images

5 Photo Tips To Improve Your Photography –


Are you shooting more photos and enjoying it less? Not satisfied with the photos you are taking? Well don’t feel alone. Thousands of cameras are sold every day to customers expecting to produce National Geographic type photos. Unfortunately, their results are often less than they had hoped for. If this sounds like you – this is the list for you. Here are five simple tips to improve your photography.

1. Shoot a LOT!   Let’s face it, your photography isn’t going to get much better while you sit at home on the couch drinking Pepsi and munching on potato chips. (Trust me, I know this from personal experience!) Get out the camera and then get out of the house and shoot. The more frequently the better. I really recommend that you shoot on a daily basis. Yes, that’s right – shoot everyday. Keep your camera with you – you never know what interesting shots you might encounter. Shooting frequently allows you to become very comfortable with your camera and its operation. It also helps you develop an “eye” for discovering, framing, and shooting images. Get out there and shoot!

2. Read you camera’s owners manual.   OK, I know — BORING? Yes, it can be boring. Not sure why growth is frequently painful but it often is.  This is one of the more painful steps if you want to improve your photos.  But let’s face it – your camera (and yes, mine too) has many features which you and I are really not very well acquainted with. Heck, you may not even aware that many of those features exist. Think about it. The company that made your camera put those features in there for a reason. And then you actually paid for those features. So doesn’t it make sense to find out what those features are and how to use them? Sound like a big task?  Sure.  Reminds me of the old saying about big tasks:  “How do you eat an elephant?  — One bite at a time!”  So my suggestion – take one feature at a time. Read about it. Try a few shots in your home. Then for the next three days (you are shooting every day now aren’t you? If not – re read #1 above) practice shooting with a primary focus on your new feature.  Then move on to the next feature.  Eventually you will have eaten the whole elephant.

3. Study photographs that you really like. When you see a photo that you really like, don’t just admire it and say “gosh, I wish I could shoot like that.” Study photos you really like. What do you like about it? The intensity of the color? The framing? The depth of field? Ask yourself how this photo was shot. What is the source and direction of the light? What time of day was it taken? Where are the subjects located in the frame? Don’t simply enjoy looking at great photos – learn from them.

Roman Coliseum at Dusk / bwb-images

4. Shoot at the right time of day.The quality of light has major impact on the quality of the photograph. Remember – photography is all about the light! For outdoor photography the quality of light varies dramatically with the time of day. The “Golden Hours” for photographers are those early in the morning, just as the sun is rising and bringing light from the east, and those in the evening, as the sun is low in the west and about to set. Yes, you can shoot at other times of day – sometimes, especially when traveling – you shoot when you can. (Me personally?  I think that the harsh light of mid-day is best avoided by taking a nice nap.) But if you have the ability to plan your shoot – think morning and evening. I did this when I was shooting the coliseum in Rome. I scouted the location early and picked my view. Then I set up the tripod and waited. Having planned the experience ahead I had packed some nice antipasto and Chianti (It was Italy after all.) It was like an urban picnic. I enjoyed my snacks as I periodically took photos from late afternoon until well after the sun had set. It was really enjoyable, indeed a memorable experience and it allowed for some nice photos.

5. Show your photos to others. True, sharing your work with others can be a bit scary. We can tend to get ego involved with our photography and criticism can be hard to take. But learning involves getting feedback. Ask your friends for HONEST feedback about what they like and don’t like in your photos. Learn from your fellow photographers. They have a different set of skills and different experience. And they can look at your photos with a very different eye. Ask them for that same HONEST feedback.  And then, of course, you have to consider their ideas and start to incorporate their suggestions into your shooting.  See how you like it.  If it helps – do it some more.  If you don’t like it – forget it.  (after all, you are the ultimate decider in your photography)

Photography is a wonderful and enjoyable creative endeavor. You can never know it all. It’s an on-going learning process for the “newbie” to photography, the talented amateur, and the seasoned professional. The more you learn, the better your photos. I hope you find these five “tips” helpful with your own images.

As Always – Enjoy the Adventure

Dr.B, The Photo Trekker

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