Sunday, July 27, 2008

How to Improve Your Photography With Good Photograph Composition

Photo by ChrisY

Story by stanwa

Many people believe that the only qualification needed for taking a good photograph is being able to use the manual controls of their digital camera. However, although this is important, composition is just as essential if not more so. In fact using the auto settings and getting the composition right will result in better quality images. Photograph composition conveys your influence on your photographs and without doubt the most crucial part of creating a good picture is the correct arrangement of the subject and background and yet, the majority of novices and amateurs ignore it.

The basis of good composition is accepting what does and doesn't belong in a photograph. To some this seems to come naturally while others have to work at it and although the editing process can achieve good composition later it's more beneficial to be successful when capturing the image in the first place. It's a lot easier to edit a well-composed photograph.

There are a few guidelines, however, to follow that will help improve the quality of the composition and therefore the quality of the images. Simplicity is probably the first and foremost important rule. Selecting backgrounds that are uncluttered will not transfer attention away from the chosen subject and the most visual treatment should be given to the center of attention in the pictures.

Another good suggestion for better photograph composition is the Rule of Thirds. Basically, this entails dividing the image into thirds, vertically and horizontally and, depending on the subject, place the center of interest on one of the four options where these lines intersect. Compositions using this technique usually turn out more appealing and many digital cameras now include this feature.

For outdoor pictures the time of day can be significant with the colour of the light surrounding the subject further enhancing or detracting from the photograph's composition with the shadows and light direction becoming part of the construction of the image. Enhance the composition with energy and depth by the use of diagonal lines and patterns. A strong foreground will lead the eye onto the main subject and give the composition perspective and interest.

There are many things that go into making a good photograph and composition, although important, is just one of the elements. However, get the composition right and you will enjoy the results of your photography much more. Keep practising and it will become a habit to give consideration to the composition of any image when taking a photograph.

About the Author

If you would like to know more about using digital cameras , or see our range Digital Cameras, visit


Sunday, July 20, 2008

How to Become An Excellent Photographer

Photos by ChrisY
James D. Humphrey

Photography can be learned by anyone. In this modern age, photography is as common as anything else and there are a lot of people who need useful, solid tips, techniques, advices and ideas about taking pictures. Aperture to shutter speed, framing and film. From the basic principles to the advanced techniques. Amateurs photographers can learn the basics and the adepts can level up their skills by gaining more knowledge of the advance techniques. That is just how things are turning in the photographer's world. You can't just slack away and feel confident on your present skills, but you have to keep on learning and studying to be competitive.

The process will take time but displaying passion and showing true interest in photography will make things a lot easier for you. Once you feel you have fully grasped the basics, you can now enter photo contests. The fun part begins and all your effort will be put into the test. The world og photography is vast, you will someday be a part of it and hopefully your name will be listed among the top.

Build a Name, Utilize the Internet

This is the most exciting part and also the hardest. Building a name in a multitude of photo shooter is difficult, just imagine the numbers of amateur and professional photographers. But that doesn't matter at all, stick to your style, be the best of it and eventually you will shine from the many. You can start by joining online photo contests. The internet offers many picture contest both for amateurs and professional photography ethusiasts. Since you are just starting, I suggest you first focus on picture contests without entrance fee or registration. Win or lose, you will have the chance to experience what it is like to compete with the world. In addition, your entry will still be posted on their sites. Viewers can help you develop your skills by posting comments and feedbacks onm your work. You will be assessed by the world, so be prepared with photo critics who might sound harsh. Their comments will somehow make you feel bad but don't lose confidence, that's how picture contests really works, basically these people are the ones who make picture contests more challenging and intimidating at the same time. Use google and find suitable photography contest to gain experience. Remember, stick to your natural style.

Classification of Photography Contests

Black and White Photography The photographs are taken without colors..

Portrait photography Photography of individual persons.

Fine Art photography Photos taken with the intention and purpose for creativity.

Fashion photography Also known as glamour photography.Photography specialised in displaying clothing, other fashion items and models. It is also a form of advertising photography.

Architectural Photography Capture of building and architectural elements.

Cityscape Photography Urban environment captured on photos. Examples of Cityscape photos.

Nature photography Photography taken with the emphasis on nature, wildlife, flora and fauna.

Advertising Photography Photos generally done by advertising and design agencies or in-house design team that illustrate a service or product.

Aerial Photography Photos taken from a plane, helicopter or skydiver.

Landscape Photography Photographic interpretations of the land and its beauty.

Underwater photography Photographs taken while underwater. It is usually done while scuba diving, snorkeling or swimming. Needs special equipment. Example of Underwater photography.

Macro photography Photography where the image is taken close up.

Food Photography Taking of food in an attractive and appetizing manner.

Night photography Photographs taken outdoors between twilight and dusk.

Fine Art Nude Photography Taking photos of unclothed persons for the purpose of artistic expression.

Wedding photography Taking images of a wedding event.

Photography Tips by Geoff Lawrence

Here are some must read tips before joining any photography contests. These guidelines were proven useful by professional photographers during their amateur years. When joining photography contests, stick to these 10 basic rules of rules in photo shooting.

1. Selection - Select only the best of your pictures to show to others and leave the rest in the drawer. Showing someone every picture you have taken dilutes the effect of the best pictures and gets very boring. You may want to show twenty pictures of little Johnny at the park because they are all quite good and you can't decide which are the best but, trust me, you will be better off making that decision and showing only the few good ones.

2. Turn the Camera on it's Side - At first it feels awkward holding the camera on it's side, but it is worth getting used to. If the shape of your subject, a person or a building, fits into an upright rectangle, you waste so much picture space if you shoot in landscape. You paid for all those millions of pixels, don't waste them.

3. Framing - One of the easiest ways to improve your photography is with careful attention to framing. Look into the corners of the viewfinder to see what is there. Do you need all that background? Can you get closer to your subject or zoom in?

4. Direction of Lighting - Photography is all about light, the direction of the light falling on your subject is most important, you must look at your subject carefully and see how the shadows fall.

If you are able to choose the time of day to shoot your pictures, try to pick a time when the sun is low in the sky, either shoot in the early morning or late afternoon. Shooting pictures of people with the sun too high in the sky, tends to mean the subject's eyes will be in shadow and/or your subject will be squinting in the strong light, both of which tend to look horrible. A nice side effect of shooting in the early morning or late afternoon is that the colour of the light is 'warmer', reds and yellows are stronger which generally gives a more pleasing effect.

If you are photographing in sunlight, try to position yourself so that the sun hits your subject from the side, this will give you nice 'modelling' and help create a 3D effect in the picture.

Sunlight behind the subject can give a very pleasing 'backlight' effect but be careful that you are not getting 'flare' in the lens, which degrades the contrast of the image.

5. Direction of Lighting (2) - The very worst kind of lighting is provided by the little flash fitted into all modern cameras. Not only does it give your subjects the dreaded red eyes, but also flattens all faces into shadowless featureless blobs. Use the in camera flashlight only in an emergency, when there is no other choice.

6. In Camera Flash - When you have to use the in camera flash, keep your subject(s) away from walls, especially light coloured ones, if at all possible, and avoid that ugly black shadow which looks like an outline. This will not show up against a dark background.

7. Exposure - Using auto exposure to your advantage.

If you have a modern camera, the chances are that the default metering system is 'centre weighted average', which means that, although it takes an average reading of the whole scene, it takes more notice of what is in the middle of the frame. Which is good news for us. The other good news is that it takes this reading at the time when you take 'first pressure' on the button to take your picture. When you push it halfway down and it beeps at you, not only is the focus now set (on an auto focus camera) but the exposure reading is taken and the aperture and shutter speed are set. So, if your main point of interest is not in the centre of the frame, it's a good idea to put it there temporarily while you focus and take your light reading, then move the camera whilst still holding the button halfway down and compose the picture the way you want it to be. A common use for this technique is when you are taking a close up shot of two people and there is space between their heads, if you're not careful the camera will focus on the wall or trees behind them. If the background is very dark or very light this can alter the exposure significantly and result in faces that are too dark or too light.

8. Shutter Speeds - When the shutter speed is important as with moving objects, it's a good idea to set the camera to 'Shutter Speed Priority' mode. This is where you select the shutter speed and the camera selects the appropriate aperture according to the light reading.

9. Apertures - If depth of field is important to either make sure everything is in focus or to throw some things out of focus, select the 'Aperture Priority' mode on your camera. In this mode you select the aperture and the camera selects the shutter speed according to the available light.

10. Neutral Density Filters - If you are shooting in bright light and want to restrict the depth of field, use a neutral density filter in front of the lens to reduce the light entering the lens. These are available in different densities, 2x, 4x, 8x etc. each one cutting the light in half, quarter, eighth etc. In extreme circumstances you can screw a couple of them together. Although they are 'neutral density' filters and should not effect the colour balance, if you use two or more together you might need a little colour correction at the printing stage.

If you're really planning big with your photography career, joining photo competitions is the fastest and easiest way to be recognized. Try putting your heart in every shot and try your very best in every photo competition you join. Some people join photo competition for the price, some for experience and some just do it because the of the fun that it brings. No matter what your reason is, have fun in every click of the camera.

About the Author

James D. Humphrey is one of the developers and sales executive of Photo laureates. The site's photo contest provide a platform of artistic expression for amateur and professional photographers to gain exposure and recognition. We promote photographers through technical workshops, improvisation sessions as well as photography con

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Framing Your Firework's Shot

Pix by Kamal

by Dan Feildman

Fireworks Displays
are something that evoke a lot of emotion in people as they are not only beautiful and spectacular to watch but they also are often used to celebrate momentous occasions.

The choice in where to aim your camera can be one of the hardest parts of firework photography. The challenge is that you will have to anticipate where the firework will explode and aim the camera in this area. Getting your framing right is still possible with the help of a few pointers.

Photo by Stuck in Customs Scope out the location early - Planning is important with fireworks and getting to the location early in order to get a good, unobstructed position is important. Think about what is in the foreground and background of your shots and make sure you won't have people's heads bobbing up into your shots (also consider what impact you'll have on others around you also).

Take note of where fireworks are being set up and what parts of the sky they are likely to be shot into - you might also want to try to ask some of those setting up the display for a little information on what they are planning. Also consider what focal lengths you might want to use and choose appropriate lenses at this time (rather than in the middle of the show).

Watch your Horizons - One thing that you should always consider when lining up fireworks shots is whether your camera is even or straight in it's framing. This is especially important if you're going to shooting with a wide focal length and will get other background elements in your shots (ie a cityscape). Keeping horizons straight is something we covered previously on this site and is important in fireworks shots also. As you get your camera on your tripod make sure it's level right from the time you set up.

How do you choose vertical or horizontal? There are two main ways of framing shots in all types of photography, vertically (portrait) or horizontally (landscape). Although both can be used in fireworks photography, I myself find a vertical perspective is better, mostly because there is a lot of vertical motion in fireworks. Horizontal shots will work if you are aiming for more of a landscape shot with a wider focal length or if you want to capture multiple bursts of fireworks in the one shot.

Remember your framing - I find that when I photograph fireworks that I spend less time looking in my viewfinder and more looking at the sky directly. As a result it's important to remember what framing you have and to watch that segment of the sky. Doing this will also help you to anticipate the right time for a shot as you'll see the light trails of unexploded rockets shooting into the sky.

Looking into digital photography? Check out this Digital Photography Guide HERE... Get Great Tips on how to take Digital Photographs plus Digital Camera Reviews

About the Author

Now You Can Shoot Beautiful Digital Photos and Create Awesome Digital Memories - Guaranteed! This is just a small part of what's on offer for you to learn about digital photography and start to get to grips with all that technical digital jargon and really feel at ease when you pick up your digital camera.

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