147 photography techniques, tips and tricks for taking pictures of anything

Tip 31. Pan with action

Moving the camera at the same speed as a moving object means the subject will remain in the same position in the frame and will be recorded sharply.

 Experiment with the shutter speed: the slower the shutter speed, the more the background will blur, conveying greater speed. 

Tip 32. Double-check the background

Details in the background can take viewers’ attention from the main subject. They don’t have to be obvious colourful road signs: even the out-of-focus line of the horizon will be a distraction if it runs directly behind a person’s head. 

For clean shots, look for clear backgrounds that are well separated from the subject. Darker backdrops tend to work better than bright ones, but be mindful of patches of bright sky through trees. 

Tip 33. Develop an eye for abstracts

The middle of the day, during the non-magic hours like the golden hour and the blue hour, is often a great time to go looking for abstracts to shoot. 

With an abundance of light, you’re less likely to need a tripod, and the hard light can be used to accentuate shadow, form, texture and tone. 

Alternatively, head out on overcast days, when the sky acts like a giant softbox, making it easy to pick out fine details.

Tip 34. Choose good shoes

Don’t underestimate the importance of comfy shoes. Whether you’re pounding the cobbles in pursuit of street photography or chasing the light in the hills, you’ll be more inclined to walk farther and shoot for longer if your feet aren’t sore.

Waterproof boots or Wellingtons are a must for shooting at the coast or when you’re photographing a waterfall, where the best views typically involve getting your feet wet.

Tip 35. Avoid camera shake

The rule of thumb when it comes to beating camera shake is to make sure the shutter speed is equivalent to or faster than the effective focal length of the lens – so at least 1/100 sec for a 100mm lens on a full-frame camera. 

If you’re shooting on a camera with a smaller sensor, multiply the focal length and shutter speed by the crop factor: 1.5 for APS-C sensors (1.6 for Canon APS-C models) and 2 for Micro Four Thirds.

Tip 36. Be prepared to get down and dirty

Don’t photograph everything from your eye level: finding a higher vantage point or getting down low can help your pictures stand out. 

Shooting from a low angle makes subjects look more imposing and allows you to draw viewers into a picture: look for leading lines to pull the eye from the foreground to the subject. 

A camera that has a fold-out LCD screen or Wi-Fi compatibility for seeing the Live View feed on a smartphone can help with framing.

Tip 37. Focus for close-ups

You need to be very careful to make sure your focus point is absolutely spot-on when you’re at close proximity to a subject, as the depth of field is minimal. 

It can often be better to put the camera on a tripod, switch to manual focus and magnify the Live View display so that you can position the focus precisely.

Tip 38. Travel light

For urban photography, you want the minimum amount of kit. A fully loaded camera bag feels heavier as the day goes on, so stick with just one or two lenses. 

Bag type is down to preference: backpacks spread the load, but a shoulder bag gives you faster access.

Read more: The 10 best travel cameras

Tip 39. Dealing with high contrast

If a scene includes an expanse of light sky and a dark foreground, fit a graduated neutral-density filter to the lens to help balance the exposure. 

Alternatively, take two shots, one with the sky exposed correctly and the other with the land exposed correctly, and blend the exposures in software.

Tip 40. Background exposure

If the background of a shot is much darker than the subject, the result may be overexposed, so try setting exposure compensation to -1 or -2. 

To prevent a much brighter background causing the camera to underexpose, try exposure compensation of +1 or +2.