Whether you're a complete beginner or a seasoned pro, it's always possible to learn the best photography tips – new photography techniques that will improve your skills.
From camera craft to photo-editing and pro photography tips, this huge guide compiles some of the best expert tips and advice that's guaranteed to help you improve your photography.
So if you're after ways of mastering landscape photography, taking better portraits, improving your wildlife and macro shots, or just after quick photo-editing tips for Adobe Photoshop CC, Lightroom or Elements, this is the essential guide for you.
Tip 1. Go eye-to-eye with nature
Take the same approach for portraits of animals and plants as you do for portraits of people. That means getting ‘eye to eye’ with the subject with a relatively long lens and using a reasonably large aperture, such as f/4, to help separate them from busy background details.
At close distances, only a small part of the subject will be sharp, so care needs to be taken with focusing.
Tip 2. Find a frame to shoot through
A framing device can help to funnel a viewer’s attention to the right place in a picture, add context and structure – and mask ‘dead’ areas, too.
Frames can be actual frames, such as shooting through an open door or a window, or implied, such as the branches of a tree. They can also be diffuse – try positioning the camera close to flowers and shooting a subject beyond them to add a soft, colourful frame.
Tip 3. Using flash in daylight
If you find that you’re coming unstuck with your exposures when you’re trying to mix natural light and flash, switch off the flash and set the exposure for the daylight first.
Use Manual mode so that the settings stay locked in on the camera, and base your exposure on the brightest part of the scene. Finally, switch on the flash and use this to brighten up the darker areas of the scene for a balanced result.
Tip 4. Sharp shots without a tripod
There are times when it isn’t wise to set up a tripod, such as on a bustling city street, and times when you need to stay mobile.
Shutter speed becomes a prime concern in these situations; increasing the ISO, employing shake reduction, firing short bursts of shots, pulling the camera strap taut and bracing yourself against a wall or other available ‘furniture’ can all help.
Tip 5. Shooting in a new location
While it’s easy to explore Google Images to get a feel for the photographic potential of a location, if you’re visiting a spot for the first time, it’s worth pausing and getting a sense of place before trying to express it in an image.
It might be tempting to attach your camera to your tripod, but there’s a lot to be said for exploring different viewpoints with a handheld camera to find the right angle and height to shoot from first.
Tip 6. Include odd numbers
Odd number of objects typically give more balanced compositions than even numbers, whether you’re shooting a group portrait, a sporting event or a landscape. So three is not a crowd... it will usually look better than a pair
Tip 7. Use the dioptre adjustment
Many cameras enable the viewfinder sharpness to be improved using a feature called dipotre adjustment. Keep an eye on the readout in the viewfinder rather than looking at the image as you make any adjustments.
Tip 8. Activate highlight warning
You can set the playback display to flash a warning for highlights that are at risk of being exposed, which is a quick way to check exposure.
Read more: How to always get your exposure right
Tip 9. Remember to reset your camera
If you’ve been making adjustments to your camera for a specific shot, such as dialling in exposure compensation, don’t forget to return the settings to normal when you finish shooting, ready for next time.
Tip 10. Pre-focus for action
If you’re able to predict where a moving subject is going to be, pre-focus the lens on that spot: this can speed up the time it takes for the autofocus system to lock onto the subject and give you a much better chance of grabbing the shot.
Tip 11. Try Shutter Priority
For sharp shots, you need a fast shutter speed. To guarantee this, use Shutter Priority, dialling in your preferred shutter speed, and switch to Auto ISO; the camera will adjust the aperture and sensitivity according to the light
Tip 12. Try Aperture Priority
Shooting in Aperture Priority mode enables you to control the depth of field as well as the exposure.
Keep an eye on the camera’s shutter speed in the viewfinder, though, otherwise you might end up with shots ruined by camera shake.
Tip 13. Check the AF mode
Make sure that you use One Shot/Single Servo for stationary subjects and AI Servo/Continuous Servo to keep track of moving ones.
Tip 14. Close-up depth of field
The closer you are to a subject, the shallower the depth of field is. If this results in too much blur, try moving farther away and crop the shot to a tighter composition later.
Tip 15. Spot metering
For more accurate exposures, switch to spot metering and aim the metering area at a part of the subject you want to be recorded as a mid-tone.
Use your camera’s exposure lock function to lock this setting before recomposing the shot.
Tip 16. Shoot sharp landscapes
Small apertures such as f/16 and f/22 increase the depth of field, or the amount of front-to-back sharpness. Perfect for landscapes, you might think.
The trade-off is that they lead to softer pictures due to the effects of diffraction (where the light rays are bent out of shape as they pass through the small hole).
For sharper details, it may be worth sacrificing a little depth of field and using an aperture that’s a couple of stops down from the smallest setting.
Tip 17. Working with a tripod
A tripod enables you to close the aperture of your shot down if you require a greater depth of field, and also to reduce your ISO to the highest quality setting.
It’s also essential when you want to shoot longer exposures in low light, but a combination of strong gusts and spongy ground can make things tricky.
In these conditions, you may have to resort to setting up on a firm area and keeping the tripod low, shielding the legs from the wind with your body.
Read more: 7 golden rules of tripod stability
Tip 18. Brush up on your reflector skills
To prevent your portrait-sitter from squinting into the sun, position them so their back is towards the sun and use a reflector to bounce light onto their face, ‘feathering’ the reflected light rather than bouncing it directly into their eyes.
It’s worth experimenting with different reflectors. A silver one adds a clean, crisp quality; a white one gives softer results that are often easier to blend in. Gold reflectors add warmth, but use them with care.
Tip 19. Shoot more flattering portraits
The low-contrast light afforded by cloudy but bright days is great for portraits as you won’t get ugly shadows under eyebrows and noses, or glare on people’s skin. Focal lengths of 85mm and longer are more flattering than shorter lengths.
The angle you shoot at also counts: shooting from slightly below eye level implies confidence and power, while shooting from slightly above is slimming and intimate.
Tip 20. Get set up for candids
Things happen quickly when you’re shooting candids, so you need to have your camera ready to go. Avoid using a brightly coloured camera strap, and wrap it around your wrist rather than over your shoulder.
Hold the camera at chest or head height, where it’s quicker to get it up to your eye. Not only does enable you to react faster, it’s less likely to attract your subject’s attention.