Once you’ve got a firm grip on composition and exposure you’re well on your way to taking professional-looking images. In this post, guest bloggers from Photoventure offer 10 easy ways to help take your photography to the next level.
1. Lose clutter
Take a look at the average professional photograph and you’ll notice that there’s nothing there that doesn’t deserve to be.
Any extraneous detail is avoided or removed to allow the viewer to concentrate on the most important elements.
If you’re shooting a landscape this may mean picking up a bit of litter or shifting a couple of dead twigs, while it could mean taking pictures off the wall in the background or clearing up a few toys for a portrait.
Items that can’t be removed at the time of the shoot should be cloned out post-capture.
2. Attention to detail
Small details can make a huge difference in an image. You may not notice that a necklace has slipped off-centre when you’re pressing the shutter release, but it will scream for attention in a framed print.
Try to get into the habit of scanning your eye around the frame checking all the details.
Make sure that the model’s clothes are unruffled, backgrounds are clean and uncreased, any jewellery is correctly positioned and make-up is perfect.
Still life subjects should also be in tip-top condition, damaged petals or foliage for instance, won’t cut the mustard.
There’s a reason why landscape photographers like to shoot at the beginning and the end of the day, it’s because the low sun creates beautiful warm light and long, soft shadows that bring out the shape of the land.
At lunchtime however, when the sun is at it’s highest point in the sky, the light is very harsh and shadows are very short and dense.
The ‘right’ light can also make a huge difference to other types of photography.
Portraits, for example often look better when the light is soft and overcast conditions can frequently be better for macro photography.
In order to take great photographs you’ve got to have great light and that either means waiting or creating the light with flashguns, studio lights, reflectors or diffusers.
Cartier-Bresson is credited with coining the phrase ‘the decisive moment’, which describes the ideal time to take a photograph, the point at which there is maximum interest.
Deciding this moment is a key skill in photography and it can involve spit-second timing.
When photographing a footballer taking a shot on goal, for example, it’s usually better to capture the point that the foot strikes the ball (or very shortly after) rather than for their foot to be in mid-air after the ball has been kicked out of the frame.
When taking a photograph, keep an eye on any developing action or changes in the weather or light and try to anticipate what’s going to happen so that you are ready to press the shutter release at the decisive moment.
5. Level horizon
In the heat of the moment, when you’re concentrating on the main subject it’s easy to forget about the horizon in the background.
There are a few occasions when a creative slant may enhance an image, but as a general rule the horizon should be level — especially where there’s water involved.
SEE MORE: 4 ways to ensure a level horizon
This can call for a little creative licence where islands and shorelines come into play as they can make a level horizon seem wonky.
If your camera has an electronic level view, use it. If you don’t have one, slip a purpose made level into your camera’s hotshoe or use your tripod’s gauge. As a last resort straighten (or realign) in Photoshop.
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