10 Photo Tips For Better Images

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a high-end DSLR photographer. These photo tips will help hone your photography skills.

1. Get Closer

Get closer and fill the frame with your subject.

If what’s in the background truly doesn’t add to the photo, eliminate the background. In some instances what’s behind or beside your subject may help tell the story, such as a travel location or hanging out with friends, but when it’s not, cut the background out. Move closer to your subject or use the zoom lens. Focus in on the details, expressions and textures that make your subject special.

2. What’s in the Background

Are there distracting lines, too much clutter, reflections, or objects coming out of your subject’s head? Simple things can turn an otherwise great photo into one that’s not so good. Before you press the shutter, scan all areas of the frame. If you see something you do not want in your photo, reposition yourself, or the subject, until you get an even better frame-up.

Try this: if you normally frame your subject by looking through the viewfinder, consider making a quick check by dialing up Live View. A glance at this larger display shows exactly what your photo will look like once the shutter is pressed. Sometimes just moving your eye away from the camera to look at the LCD view gives a fresh and more objective glance.

3. Focus, Lock, Then Recompose

All Nikon cameras have the ability to lock focus on a subject. To use:

  • frame your image,
  • focus on your subject,
  • then press the shutter release half way down and hold it there.

Now you may reframe your shot or reposition your camera to create a more interesting composition while preserving focus on your subject.

4. Rule of Thirds

Try this: pick a stationary subject that’s set against a clean background. While looking through the viewfinder, visually imagine your framed scene divided into thirds, or use the camera’s vertical and horizontal compositional grid lines. Take your first photo by placing your subject dead center.

Next, move the camera slightly to position your subject where the lines intersect at the upper left-hand corner, then take a photo. For a third image, move the camera so your subject is in the lower right-hand section of the frame where the lines meet.

Now, look at each shot on the LCD. As a general rule, dividing your scene into thirds, then placing a subject where the points intersect, will make a more pleasing image. A photo where the subject is right in the middle of the frame is often uninteresting.

Select your subject, use the camera’s Focus Lock, then reframe by moving the camera to reposition your subject to one of the intersection points.

5. Steady Your Camera

Seems obvious, but it’s worth a mention, holding a camera properly helps ensure sharper images by minimizing camera shake. If your camera is on where the lens juts out from the body, use your left hand to support the lens from underneath. Then firmly grip the camera body with the right hand, placing the index finger on the shutter. For point-and-shoot cameras, make sure you have a firm grip. You can use the wrist strap for added security against dropping the camera.

Use Nikon’s VR (Vibration Reduction) image stabilization system for sharper images. Be sure your gear has this switched to ON. Get your grounding, brace your elbow at your sides (if possible), take a calming breath and click.

6. Look Into Their Eyes

To photograph children at their level, use your camera’s Vari-angle LCD, or position yourself so you’re at their height.

Unless you’re trying to demonstrate perspective of height variation with your photos, consider taking things down to the individual level. Small subjects? Sight things up to their eye-level.

Try this: to photograph children at their level, use your camera’s vari-angle LCD, or position yourself so you’re at their height. Another benefit to dropping to a new level is noticing that poor lighting or shadows are falling into the frame may be easier to detect and correct.

Not only will your image have a more pleasing and realistic head-to-toe balance, but the grins will look wider and you gain more control over what lands as a background.

7. Learn About Panning

Panning is a simple effect that adds drama and movement to a still image. Panning is most often used when photographing motion that will pass in front of the camera, for example, a horse race or a merry-go-round.

Set the camera to Shutter Priority (S) mode, then choose a slow shutter speed such as 1/15 second. Then, while holding down the shutter release, follow your subject by moving your camera in the same direction. You will need to experiment with different shutter speeds for different effects – it may take a few tries to get a favorable look.

8. Use the Light

More light is a good thing. While it may seem contradictory, using a flash with your outdoor photography can often improve things. Even though the outdoors is usually bright, the major source of light is the sun, which most often comes from overhead and creates shadows on faces.

Set your camera to use the flash by either popping up the flash or enabling the flash feature in the menu. What this does is provide fill-flash; the light from your flash “fills” in the shadows. After you take a photo, view the resulting image. You may wish to take a few shots by repositioning the camera ever so slightly. You’ll notice some subtle differences, and you’ll have a few more good photos.

9. Always Be Prepared

Have ever said to yourself, “I wish I had my camera.”

Just think of all the additional great images your portfolio, social media profile, or art wall may have. Make it a habit of always having your camera with you and ready to capture those unexpected photo opportunities.

Remember to keep the batteries charged and a memory card at the ready.

10. The Power of Practice

Shoot every day; make a photo journal and give yourself photo assignments. Consider inventing your own Photo a Day challenge and make it a habit to post to social media. When they see you’re sharing an image each day, your family and friends will become your biggest fans. There’s nothing like a thumbs up and a positive comment to keep you inspired.

Another nice thing – after 365 days of shooting and posting, look back and see how your skills have improved. Heed these top 10 photo tips for taking better photos, and you’ll be well on your way to stardom and the admiration of family and friends. Be sure to post what you create; a social media upload every few days never hurts.


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