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A Guide To Taking Better Pictures - Time To Banish Boring Snaps!

These articles are packed full of tips for taking better pictures with your digital camera. My aim is to help you turn disappointing snaps into stunning photos, and light the fuse for your own creative experiments!

Learning how to take great photos does rely on getting to grips with a few basics first, though. Visit this section of Photography Art Cafe if you're not confident with things like aperture and shutter speed yet: Digital Photography Basics.

One of the best photography tips I know is this: simply shoot whatever you are instinctively drawn to, in whatever way you feel inclined. But we all know that some photos come out so much better than others!

I bet you also know that feeling of looking at a professional's photos and thinking, 'What is that elusive thing that makes his/her shots so amazing!?' The answer...? Lots of little things!

The practical and creative tips that follow will reveal lots of these little things. When all put together, you're snaps will become wonderful photos, worthy of the pro's!

 

Introduction: Beginners' Tips

So we'll kick off with a quick overview of some of the key things that make for good photos. This will help you to stop to think about what the difference is between a snap and a brilliant photograph!

4 essentials of taking good pictures

Right, let's start by looking at some basic building blocks of a good photo: subject, composition, focus and exposure.

6 tips for taking your digital photography up a notch!

Now, here are 6 areas that are important for taking better pictures: taking your time, manual controls, discovering famous photographers, the right camera, shooting in Raw, using a tripod.

 

Photography Composition

Taking more time to compose pictures carefully is one of the best ways you can improve your photography. Often we compose images instinctively, lining up the scene until it just looks right/balanced. But there are lots of techniques that photographers and artists use to help themselves with this process. The articles below will introduce you to some of the best methods and ideas to keep in mind next time you're out with your camera.

21 photography composition tips for more interesting photos

The golden mean and rule of thirds

Popular techniques and guidelines that photographers use to compose great shots. These will stay with you forever!

The value of a good foreground

Professional landscape photographer David Fleet talks about how great foregrounds strenghten shots with depth and perspective.

"Fill frame" - what does this really mean?

Is filling the frame just one of those little phrases people say to beginners, or is it genuinely helpful for good composition?

Visual balance and weight

A quick look at how to avoid 'lop-sided' photos. Use foregrounds, middlegrounds and backgrounds to master composition in photography.

How does focal length really effect your photos?

You might think focal length and angle of view is just about zooming in/out. It actually has a huge impact on the aesthetics of a photo...

Positioning the horizon in photographs

Where's the best place to position the horizon? It affects the whole of the image so is really important to get right...

Recommendation:

This is one of my favourite photography books. It's the best guide to the key ingredients of a good photo that I know about:

How to Take Good Pictures of...

 

Time for some practical tips on taking better pictures of specific subjects. Each article will provide you with a little technical and creative toolkit for approaching the respective subject! I've tried to summarize all the things that have helped and improved my own photography the most in each area.

 

10 Landscape photography tips

I absolutely love landscape photography and these are my top 10 tips for capturing the drama of light, land and sea in your photos.

More landscape photography tips (from a pro)

In this article professional landscape photographer, David Fleet, shares some of the things that contribute to special images.

Using lines and curves in landscapes

Take the viewer on a journey through your images by employing lines and curves.

21 inspiring landscape photos with 21 quick tips

A collection of 21 inspirational landscape images, each one with a quick tip to take away.

How to take stunning beach sunset photos

Ever failed to do justice to an incredible coastal sunset? These picture taking tips will ensure you never waste an opportunity again!

My crazy but cool landscape photography tip

This is not a practical landscape photography tip, but it is one of the most effective ways to boost inspiration and master composition.

10 ways I rediscovered my love of landscape photography

A few weeks ago I felt my motivation to shoot was taking a dive. These are the 10 cures I used to fill me with enthusiasm again!

The art of photographing reflections

Practical and compositional advice on how to go about incorporating reflections into your shots.

10 killer night photography tips

Night time presents some of the best opportunities to photographers. Here are 10 ideas for awesome and original pictures.

10 Wildlife photography tips

Good wildlife photography takes practice and planning. Here are my top tips for taking better pictures of the animal kingdom.

Shooting flowers - without being boring!

Don't be boring! Flowers can be really cool subjects. Here's how to take good pictures of them without getting too 'samey'.

An introduction to night photography techniques

There may be less of it, but there's still plenty of interesting light to work with after the sun goes down!

Sports photography tips

Sport is jam packed with potential for exciting photos. Make the most of it and take better digital pictures next time you're at a game!

5 fast action tips for sports photography

Fast paced sport is a brilliant but tricky subject. Here are 5 tips to help you get some awesome captures next time you're at a game.

Fashion photography tips

Clothes, models, lights, lenses, poses, props...! Take a breath. Here's a a simple introduction to fashion photography for the uninitiated.

Taking long exposure photos (fun!!)

Silky waterfalls, peaceful waves and vibrant traffic lines; This article gives you all the tools and techniques for these amazing effects.

Decisive moment photography - planned spontaneity

Unless you have the reactions of a cat you'll need to use some of these techniques to seize brilliant but fleeting moments.

4 Ideas For Photography In Cloudy Weather

Don't despair when the sky is an overcast. It might seem like photo opportunities have disapeared with the sun, but the soft, diffused light under clouds can be put to good use.

15 awesome pictures of fireworks, plus tips

I've picked out a selection of stunning fireworks images, and shared 15 tips to help you take similar shots.

7 funny people pictures with tips for creating your own

I've picked out 7 funny pictures of people and shared some ideas for producing your own versions below each one.

12 indoor photography tips

Indoor photography is not a choice between hard flash, blur or underexposed pictures. These tips show you why.

Bitten by the bug!? Which magazine...?

Read these reviews of my personal favourite digital photography magazines!

 

Taking Better Pictures In Black and White

 

Black and white photographs have something special about them.

With all that colour drained away they're just one step removed from the world we see around us. Shapes, patterns, contrasts and textures all seem to loom larger somehow!

 

Introducing black and white photography techniques

Here are my top picture taking tips for shooting in black and white. It's great fun and very different to colour photography.

 

The Raw File Format

Have you heard of shooting in 'Raw'? Sometimes people make it sound really technical and complicated, but trust me - it's not! The day I started shooting in a Raw file format my photography changed forever. It makes taking great photos - consistently - a whole lot easier.

How to shoot in Raw file format

Let's look at a quick definition of Raw files and see how how easy it is to save our pictures in this format.

Converting Raw files in Photoshop

The fun bit! This is where you see the power of Raw. Learn how to do this and you'll be taking better pictures today!

 

Want to Learn HDR Photography?

How do you make photos appear brighter, bolder, sharper, bigger than life!? Find out now!

 

Cleaning Your Camera's Sensor

Sound boring? Well there are quick, cheap and simple solutions to eliminating dust specks on your camera's sensor that I'm going to share with you. You may already have been driven half mad by those little dots that intrude on otherwise good photos! Help is at hand...

Keeping your sensor (and your photos) spot free

It's hard to work on taking better pictures if your sensor is covered in dirt! Well, get ready to make friends with the squeeze bulb blower.

 

Photography Ideas

Sometimes the inspiration just runs dry. I think it's never a good idea to photograph something just for the sake of it; it should grab you! Equally, setting yourself a little project can force you to think creatively and spark all sorts of new creative ideas.

10 photography project ideas

Try a few of these cool projects and I promise you'll have a head full of new ideas in no time!

Where to get photography inspiration?

Here some thoughts on how and where to find new inspiration for your next photographic venture.

A guide to golden hour photography

A pro landscape photographer explains how making use of these wonderful times of day can't fail to help you start taking better pictures.

Bokeh tips! Wahoo!!

The first time you take a shot with really proper, sumptuos, soft 'bokeh' is the day you truly realize how much you love photography!

Painting with light tutorial

Time for some serious creativity! Learn how to 'paint' cool light shapes and illuminate specific areas of a scene.

9 awesome creative photography tips

9 sure-fire ways to put some life into your photos. Don't settle for the same kind of shots all the time, express yourself!

15 photography mistakes I made all the time as a beginner!

These are the dumbest things I made a habit of when first discovering photography. Any of these sound familiar?

Scary things that have happened to me whilst shooting

What is it about photography and danger? Sometimes they just seem to attract each other! Here are the stories of my close scrapes!

10 telephoto lens tips for beginners

My first pictures with a telephoto lens would have been much better if I'd come across these 10 tips.

How to boost photography motivation

10 strategies I use all the time to get that buzz for taking pictures back! These will definitely give your motivation a boost.

 

Books and Magazines With Picture Taking Tips

There's quite a surplus of photography books and magazines out there. They're spilling off the shelves in most book stores and news agents. I want to let you in on which are my personal favourites. So here are 2 books and 4 mags with fantastic advice on taking better pictures

A couple of must read photography guides

These 2 books are always on my desk! They are really easy to read and packed with a wealth of practical advice.

Awesome photography magazines to check out

I either subscribe to or read all of these publications. They make it easy and fun to get more out of photography.

 

Using Camera Phones

More and more of the images we see in the media have been snapped on increasingly high quality camera phones and whipped straight off in an email. Some breathtaking shots have been taken on phones, so don't write them off!

Shooting with your phone - don't be a DSLR snob!

So, here are few tips for you if a photo op presents itself when you're out and about without your main camera.

 

Online Digital Photography Courses

Like the idea of learning more about photography, with the support of a personal tutor to assess your work, purely from home? I know I did! The main course from Proud Photography was a lot of fun and an excellent investment.

A cool photography course I took online

Find out whether any of these courses could be for you by reading my reviews.

The Photography Crash Course: 17 Short Lessons To Camera Mastery

Where Next?

Equipment Guides

How to Sell Photos Online

Photoshop Tutorials

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