ACC Tips for Taking Photographs

Here's some tips for taking photos. They are arranged in no particular order. If you've got more we can add, please contact the webmaster.

Taking photographs

  • The first rule of photography is to know the rules of what makes a good photograph. The second rule is that you can break the first rule.
  • Whatever photos you take are the right ones to to take, for you, at that time. Only professionals need worry about what others think.
  • While expensive cameras are nice, the most important bit is the brain behind the camera. Modern cameras are amazingly clever and you can take great photos even with your phone.
  • Where possible, use a tripod when taking photographs. In crowded areas, a monopod can also help with stability.
  • When using a tripod, turn off lens stabilisation. If time, turn everything to manual, slow down and think.
  • Take and edit photographs in RAW format. Use Adobe colour space for maximum colour capture.
  • Keep your horizon level. Use a clip-on spirit level or in-camera level.
  • Be intentional about tilt in verticals, eg. to emphasise height.
  • Do as much as you can in-camera, minimising the need to tweak things (like horizontal) during editing.
  • Avoid all-white 'burned out' sections, even in small areas. Set up you camera (if you can) to highlight burn-out.
  • Expose to the right (ETTR) -- go as bright as you can without burn-out.
  • If you're not sure, under-expose photos (though this increases noise and decreases colour range).
  • It is surprising what detail may still be found in the shadows.
  • Take +/-2 exposure bracketed photos to allow for increasing the dynamic range during editing.
  • Use zoom-in live view (if you can) with manual focus to get the exact focus you want.
  • Stop down the lens, closing the iris, (if you can) so you can better see what will really be in focus and not.

Composing images

  • Beware of distractions in the background, including any light areas that may catch the eye.
  • Pay attention to what is in focus and what is not. Beware of focus going off at extremities of main subject.
  • Ensure eyes are pin sharp. Make sure they can be seen unless deliberately hiding them.
  • Consider removing other distractions, from litter to dangling wires. Photoshop cloning is surprisingly easy.
  • How are you capturing and using light and shade?
  • What is the tonal range of your images? Are they flat and lifeless or deep and striking?
  • Look at the histogram. Does it cover most of the range from dark to light?
  • Avoid putting things in the middle, including horizons.
  • Put subjects on the intersection of 'thirds' lines. Or be brave and use the 'Golden Ratio'. Or even push things to the corners.
  • When a person looks at your photo, where will their eye go first? Then where will it go?
  • The eye is attracted by red and light items, also by people, text and big things such as large blocks of colour.
  • The eye will follow lines. It will stop if a line crosses its path.
  • We look where people are looking, so put a space in front of them for our eyes to traverse.
  • We predict where moving objects will go, so put space in front of them so we can see what will happen next.
  • What story does your photograph tell? Is it interesting?
  • What are the major objects in your image? How do they relate to one another?
  • The mind likes photos that are relaxing. It also likes interesting photos.
  • An odd number of items is often better than an even number. Threes are often best.
  • Desaturate images, viewing them in black and white. What do you see differently. Would a monochrome be a better option?
  • Basic shapes are easy on the eye. What forms triangles, circles, squares, etc. in your photographs?
  • When we see texture, we imagine feeling it. Texture can give depth and complexity to an image.
  • What can be removed from your image? What is essential, non-essential, obstructive or distractive?

And generally learning

  • Take time to closely examine images wherever you find them, in magazines, posters, exhibitions, online, etc.
  • When viewing images, look for the intent of the photographer. What caught their eye? What are they trying to show you?

Copyright 2004- Abergavenny Camera Club. The copyright of images on this website belongs solely to the photographer. Images may not be copied, downloaded or used in any way without the specific written permission of the photographer.