Monday, December 17, 2007

One, two, three... click

An effective photo draws your eyes into the shot and then all the way around the frame. Megan Hirons/Gulf News

One, two, three... click
By Megan Hirons

Gulf News photographer Megan Hirons is often asked for advice on how to take great photos. Here she shares 10 tips for improving the quality of your pictures.

1. Know your camera

Read the instruction manual for your camera. Get to know your camera's features and settings. Experiment with different settings to learn what results they produce. Play. Your camera is your friend, so spend adequate time and energy with your camera. It will serve you to the best of its ability.

2. Move your subject out of the centre of your frame

If you place your subject anywhere in your frame outside of the centre, you are assured of a more dynamic shot.

3. Don't be afraid to take too many photos

In this age of digital technology, there is no film to waste. So take more pictures than you need; you can always delete them later. Move around, get high, go low, change perspective, use your flash, turn your flash off, zoom in, zoom out. In other words, play. Find out what suits your eye. Taking photos should be fun, so enjoy it.

4. Shoot with the sun behind you

Look at where the sun lights the things around you and go with it. Shooting into the sun causes flare - those circles of light you sometimes see in photos. Flare tends to destroy the saturation and contrast of your pictures. To avoid it, shoot while the sun is on your side or behind you.

5. Get close to your subject

Stay away from zooms and get close to your subject. You can feel the presence of someone who is close to the camera in the final shot. It adds a personal feeling to pictures that tends to be lost when you shoot from far away.

6. Make use of the 'magic hours'

Try to stay away from taking photos at noon. The light is very bright, high contrast and tends to wash out colours. Try to make use of the 'magic hours' - before 10am and after 3:30pm. The light is warm and soft, and colours tend to be more vibrant.

7. Use available light when possible

The flash is highly overused and can flatten images, taking away the shadows that give definition and depth. Make use of natural lighting when you can. It looks the most natural to our eyes.

8. Work with the natural lines of the scene you are shooting

An effective photo draws your eyes into the shot and then all the way around the frame. Work with strong lines, be they vertical or horizontal, to lead into the photo. Frame your image accordingly to take advantage of these lines.

9. Turn your camera to shoot vertical

Remember, you can hold the camera vertically to shoot vertical images. Shooting vertical is effective for portraits and architecture, and can suit many other kinds of photos. Don't forget to rotate your camera from time to time to vary your shots.

10. Look at photographs

One of the best ways to improve your eye for photography is to simply look at other people's photos. Use Internet, newspapers, magazines and coffee table books for inspiration.

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