Five Tips for Taking Better Pictures

Posted: March 1, 2012 in kind of like news

This past week I was in the town of Banff, Canada, a common tourist stop on the way through the Rocky Mountains.  There is no denying that the Rockies are a spectacular site and as I watched the bus loads of Asian tourists stop and unload, I realized they thought the same thing.  I’ve never seen so many Canons and Nikons converge on the streets of one, small town.

It’s hard to walk down any street without seeing a camera.  With the addition of cameras to cell phones, our ability to take pictures wherever we are is endless. And although we all have the equipment to take a picture, could it be better?  What if you could make a picture verses taking a snapshot?

Taking time to set up your picture can make your photos into something more than a mere snapshot.  I asked Paul Bartell of Photobart Imaging, Phoenix, Arizona, who has won the Guru Award at the 2010 Photoshop World Conference, what he sees as the most common problem with people’s photos.  “The biggest general problem I see with people’s photos from a compositional stand point is the angle of view. People (myself included) tend to be lazy, they will snap a photo from where they are currently standing,” Bartell says.  As someone who makes his living from retouching and manipulating photographs, Bartell, suggests that with a little care and the use of five easy tips, anyone can take picture making skills to the next level.

1.  Move to their level:  For example, if the subject you are photographing is a small child or pet, crouching down to take the photo from a lower angle can greatly improve the image. Also, changing your position to eliminate a busy, distracting background will allow you to make the subject the main focus of your photograph.

2.  Crop in close:  Fill the frame of your camera with your main subject.  This will cut out any distraction in the background, creating an intimacy with your subject.

3.  Use the Rule of thirds:  Think of your photograph in a graph of thirds both horizontally and vertically.  Put your main subject or focus on one of the grid points.  This will eliminate the “bulls eye” look of a picture that has the subject centered.

4.  Avoid harsh/midday sunlight:  Try to shoot early morning or late afternoon.  You can also look for shade and with the use of your flash, fill in the light that is needed.  If you can, find a natural light source.  It will work best as it delivers a diffused, flattering light.

5.  Hold your camera steady:
Make yourself into a tri-pod by bring your elbows into your sides and stand with your feet shoulder width apart.  If you are shooting down, plant your knees on the ground or use the ground itself to stabilize your arms.  You can also use slow and steady pressure on the shutter release to avoid camera movement.  This will help reduce motion blur and give you sharp, clear pictures.

These techniques can be used by the most seasoned photographers, Asian tourists or college students taking photos for their Facebook pages.  Photography rules need to be learned so that you know when it is appropriate to break them.  Like any form of art, it is subjective… you need to shoot to please yourself, be passionate about it.  At the very least, take a few moments to make the best photo you can.  These are your memories, after all.


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