Photography Advice For Everyone

The Perfect Landscape Photograph

Nearly everyone loves taking photographs and we all would like to improve our rate of success. Unless you use your camera every day, it is difficult to remember how you achieved that terrific shot or to analyse why a particular photograph didn’t turn out the way you thought it would. I hope in this article to help change that for the better. Don’t worry if you if you don’t have the latest equipment,  good photography is about using your eyes and brain, being in the right place at the right time...and being ready! 

Here's a secret that professional photographers use all the time, it's simple secret that will make all the difference to the pictures you show everyone. The secret might be simple but effective - take more than one shot. It sounds obvious, but many people fail to do this. 

 Imagine you are on vacation, perhaps you are by the coast and you take a walk early one morning. The weather isn't great, it's a cloudy day and you almost don't bother to bring your camera. However it is quite early and things might change so you grab a camera and head for the door. As you're walking along the coast you spot an old, abandoned boat and figure that it might make a nice photograph. You pull out your camera, set it on auto, and point it in the general direction of the boat and press the button. It's OK, but nothing great. As you hang around for a minute, looking at the scene you realise the sun imperceptibly starts to break through the clouds. The sharp light breaks through the clouds and all of a sudden it brings out colours and texture you hadn't noticed before. You raise the camera to your eye and take a few more exposures. The sun is starting to break up the clouds now but somewhere in those dozen shots will be a perfect exposure - dark balanced against light. Shadow detail balanced against the highlights. A beautiful image that makes that initial snap look positively mundane!

Welsh BoatCredit: © simon kemp 2013

With landscape photography we have no control over the light, just the ability to wait and choose a time to trip the shutter.  Most people, on spotting a nice looking scene, press the button,  put their camera away and head off somewhere else. If you wait a few minutes longer and take two, three or four more pictures, not only will you have a better photograph of that scene but you'll know that you have earned it and not achieved it by accident.

Be it landscapes, sunsets, sports or pictures of your family, almost all subjects benefit from this approach. Light, expressions, action - all can change within seconds. Take a couple more shots and you are almost guaranteed a better photograph.  If you are feeling confident with your camera’s controls, try a couple of images with different settings. Underexposing the picture (as in the above photograph) for example can intensify colours and change the impact of the photograph.

The beauty of this is that you don’t have to show anyone the “also ran’s”. Professionals know this and a bit of skillful editing before presentation ensures only the best shot is seen. There is no excuse with digital photography of course, if you are using a film camera it can be more expensive but film and developing is far cheaper and easier than waiting for next year’s holiday, or organising  the next family get together.