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10 Simple Photography Tips

Elvis Elvis

How many times have you waited for your films to get back from the lab, or excitedly connected your camera to the computer on return from holiday, only to find the results not quite as you saw in the glossy brochures ?

If, at the moment you suffer from dull, uninteresting, blurry images, don’t worry ! By following a few simple photography tips and techniques, you will have photographs to be proud of, to display on your walls at home, to show friends and family, or maybe even turn into cash !!

If you think you need the latest, fully loaded, most expensive cameras available to get great results – think again !

My own personal kit comprises of one digital compact camera, two basic Nikon digital camera bodies, three inexpensive lenses, one tripod, one monopod, a couple of filters and a bag to put it all in.

As a professional, I need the versitility and back-up of more than one camera, but remember – good photographs are taken by good photographers, not by “break-the-bank” equipment.

Photography Tip 1. Time Of Day.

Any type of photography is all about light, and you will often hear landscape photographers talk about the “golden hour”. This can either be the hour or so around dawn or dusk, when the light can be pure magic. At mid-day, the sunlight becomes quite harsh, resulting in too much contrast between highlight and shadow. Use this time to visit local attractions like historic buildings, or explore Dartmoor to seek out your next photographic location.

10 Simple Photography Tips

Getting up early and missing breakfast, or staying out late when everyone else is back at the hotel enjoying an evening meal will reward you with images bursting with atmosphere.

Photography Tip 2. High Vantage Points

For images with real impact, find locations where you can photograph from a high vantage point. This does not neccessarily mean trekking for hours up a remote hillside or Tor ! For instance Combestone Tor, situated between Hexworthy and Venford reservoir, has a car park almost on its summit ! But the views down into the Dart valley are breathtaking, and if you combine the superb vista with the granite rock outcrop of the Tor as foreground interest, the resulting photograph should be a winner !

Photography Tip 3. Foreground Interest.

When you first look at a photograph, your eye needs to have something to “grab” on to, otherwise your brain just wants to move on to the next thing. This is best acheived by adding foreground interest to your picture.

For instance, if you wanted to capture the view over Burrator Lake from Peek Hill, there are many features such as rocks and trees that will make excellent foreground interest. If you cannot find something suitable, get someone to stand in shot (looking away from you into the view) to give interest and a sense of scale.

For this technique, you need plenty of depth of field to keep everything sharp from foreground to horizon. A wide angle lens is perfect for this job. Set the aperture at f16 or higher and your image should be crisp and pin sharp.

Photography Tip 4. The Short Walk

Although there are some fantastic photographs to be taken from the side of the roads over Dartmoor just by taking a short walk from the car (armed with map and compass of course), you will discover a whole new world to capture with your camera.

Go to Postbridge on any day in the summer and you will see everyone taking the same shot of the ancient clapper bridge, but just by walking south up the footpath towards Bellever, the view back towards Postbridge opens up to give a very different and more interesting scene, which still includes the bridge, but has the high tors in the north moor as a backdrop.

So, pull on your boots and get walking !

Photography Tip 5. The Wide Angle Lens.

One of every landscape photographers’ “must haves”! I use it for about 80% of the photographs I take.

To make use of foreground interest, and to ensure sharpness throughout your picture, this lens set with a small aperture (f16, f22) will be invaluable, and is sure to add dramatic impact.

But remember, using small apertures on your lens will result in slower shutter speeds on the camera, so to avoid camera shake, use a tripod or some other means of support.

Photography Tip 6. Use a Tripod

I have already talked about setting the lens to a small aperture (large f number) to ensure greater depth of field, {more of the fore, middle and background in focus}.

The downside to this is that the shutter speed will have to be quite slow to compensate, even in bright conditions. The simple answer is to always use a tripod. Not only will it ensure that your camera is steady during the long exposure time, but it will also slow you down a bit during the framing of the photograph, and you will find that your composition will improve greatly. No more uphill horizons !!

Try to avoid touching the camera when the shot is taken by using a cable release or remote trigger. You could also use the time release found on most modern cameras. Photography Tip 7. Rule of Thirds

In landsape photography, the view should always look well balanced to the eye. But the main subject, a lone tree for instance, will look odd if placed in the centre of the frame.

The rule of thirds is something artists have used to create more balance, energy and interest in their paintings, but it works equally as well for landscape photography.

The rule states that an image should be divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced vertical lines and two equally spaced horizontal lines. The four points where the lines intersect are then used to position the main features in the photograph.

Photography Tip 8. Filters.

I rarely use filters to try to keep my images as natural as possible. However, there are three I may use at certain times. These are the polarizer, warm up and natural graduated filters.

Of the three the polarizer is the most effective. It helps make colours more vivid, and skies will magically appear bluer and the grass greener. It will also help to cut down reflections on water.

The warm up filter is useful at the begining and end of the day and will enhance any sunrise or sunset picture. This type of filter does just what it suggests and gives warmth to the scene.

One big problem when taking a landscape shot is getting the contrast between the bright sky and the dark ground correctlybalanced. Meter for the ground and use a natural graduated filter to prevent the sky from being over exposed.

Photography Tip 9. Be Original.

By this I mean, try to find a new angle to take your photograph from. Take a tip from pet photographers and get down low. Vary how much sky to include, or leave it out altogether. Don’t be afraid to break some of the rules I’ve suggested – experiment !

Photography Tip 10. Come back in November !!

My favourite month for landscapes on Dartmoor. The morning light arrives much later, so no need to set the alarm so early, and it’s dark by 5pm – home in time for tea !

Then of course, there is the quality of light. The atmospheric misty dawn over Dartmoor reservoirs, frost covered moorland landscapes, and mile after mile of superb walking country – with hardly another sole around to share it with !!