Top Tips to Improve Your Photography
Here are some of the best ways to improve your images, and it doesn’t involve buying any new equipment!rule-of-thirds
Composition is the way you arrange elements within your image and often, making some small changes can make huge differences to the look and feel of your photograph. While we often call these ‘rules’ of composition, they are not really rules, just guidelines and they really can help you take better images.
Rule of Thirds
This is probably one of the most commonly used rules and also one of the easiest. You divide your image into nine equal rectangles, three across and three down. Each of these lines, vertical or horizontal, provides the best place to put your main subject on. If you can, place your subject where two of the lines meet to get even better composition.
Many Parramatta cameras will have a rule of thirds grid line built-in that can be overlaid on your camera’s LCD (sorry, you’re going to have to get that instruction manual out to find it) screen making it even easier to compose your images.
Photographs are flat, 2D images that we try to give depth and dimension. One of the best ways to give your image depth and a greater sense of reality is to include foreground within the picture. Often we try so hard to get a clear, close-up image of our subject, that we remove many elements within the frame that could give the image depth and dimension and end up with an image that is lacking that 3-dimensional quality.
Foreground could be the rounded stones and pebbles leading into a stream, or a set of stairs leading down to the building. It doesn’t have to be dominating, just something that will lead your viewer’s eye into the image.
Leading lines are a way in which we can guide the viewer around, into, or through an image. Lines can be real: paths, roads or rivers for example or, can be implied such as the gaze between two people.
The human eye is drawn towards lines so it is important to think about where you will place lines within your images.
Ok, so earlier I said that the rule of thirds was an excellent way to improve your composition, well now I’m going to tell you that you can also have great images that do not use the rule of thirds. To be fair, I also said they are more guidelines than rules…
Symmetrical scenes or subjects work best when placed central within the frame as they have their own balance and stability. Architecture and architectural details such as doors, windows, and building facades can make great symmetrical images. You can also find summitry in nature; you may just need to look a bit harder!
In much the same way as you frame a picture to put on a wall, you can also create frames within your images. Frames are an excellent way to create depth within the picture, isolate the subject and a way to let you hide details that you may not want showing in the image.
Many things can be used to create frames such as windows, doors, arches and tree branches. And they do not have to completely surround the subject to be effective.
Humans are generally fascinated by patterns. It’s that appeal of the visual puzzle, the repeating design, texture or even the play of light and shadow. Patterns can be found all around us, especially in the man-made environment and they generally don’t use the traditional compositional elements such as the rule of thirds or leading lines.
However, simple repetition does not by itself create pattern. You need to find images that create rhythm or contrast within the pattern and that ideally show something about the subject.
It is important to make sure you have enough depth of field to keep the entire pattern sharp or you will lose the visual appeal.
Fill the frame
One of the first things I was told starting out in photography was to get close to the subject, the second was to get even closer!
This doesn’t mean you totally isolate the subject leaving nothing else within the frame. It does, however, mean that you need to get rid of anything within the frame that may be distracting or, may take the viewer’s attention away from the main subject. When you take an image look around the frame and ask yourself if everything you have included is adding to your subject. If it doesn’t then get rid of it.
As photographers, we often tend to be a bit lazy and take the simple approach, and that often means taking an image from where we stand and at eye level. Think a bit more about your subject and how you are trying to show it. Look at the foreground and the background and see if moving to a different location may give a better angle. Try photographing from above or, get down to ground level and see how it changes the image.
Often a small change in where you take the image from can have a huge difference to ho the images looks. You’ve gone to the trouble of taking an image so why not spend an extra minute or two and try to make it look even better.
Perspective and Lens Choice
Your choice of lens, or focal length, will have a significant impact on the overall look of your image. When choosing what focal length you will use you need to consider two important effects the lens will have.
The first is the amount of background you will include within the image. You can go close to the subject with a wide angle lens or further away with a telephoto lens while letting the subject occupy the same size within the frame. The difference will be in the background. Close to the subject with a wider angle lens will get far more background in the image compared to the telephoto image shot from further away. You can use this to your advantage to include or, remove, parts of the background within an image.
Secondly, lenses change the perspective within an image. Telephoto lenses will compress perspective and make objects within the image look closer together than they really are. Wide angle lenses expand perspective and make objects appear farther apart that they actually are.