How to Take
"Many people ask me how to take good pictures.
I usually end up giving the same kind of advice depending
on the subject matter: portraits, landscapes, family photography...
I would like to share some of my advice in this article."
Most of the advice that I will be giving on how to take good pictures is based on the photographer using a single lens reflex (SLR) camera, but many of the areas still incorporate the use of a point and shoot camera: composition layout, rule of thirds...
My tips on how to take good pictures usually starts with composition.
There are many rules and techniques that deal with comoposition. One of the most common rules of thumb is the rule of thirds.
This works under the concept that tension in the picture will bring more interest.
The way that the rule of thirds is used is by splitting up the scene in the viewfinder into 9 equal parts like a tic-tac-toe board. Where the lines intersect is where points of interest in the photograph should be located. If there is a horizontal line of interest such as a horizon or edge of a table, it should be placed on the top or bottom one third line.
The picture to the right shows the proper layout using the rule of thirds in a outdoor portrait setting. Do not forget that with a point and shoot camera, what you see is not exactly what you get. Instead of looking through the lens, as an SLR allows, point and shoots use a viewfinder commonly mounted above the lens.
Of course, just about the most popular venues of the art is portrait photography. The techniques in this section are meant to be used in all kinds of portraits: family, friends, and professional.
Here is a scenario that I am sure we have all seen - The Vacation Portrait - A family is on vacation and wants to get a nice portrait shot with the wondrous background scene. The problem is when the family gets home and looks at the portrait and realizes that they tried to get too much background into the shot and they can barely tell who is in the picture. This scene can be anywhere: on vacation, at the beach, even in the backyard.
The most important thing to remember with portraits is that the subject is the person or people in the photograph. I recommend head and shoulder shots for the most part. It is okay to pan out a bit to let some background in, but too much background may cause a subject conflict and the viewer's eye may not be able to tell what to focus on.
If you pan out to get a better picture of an action portrait (children playing) and the background is too distracting there is something that can be done. Decrease the aperture setting on your camera to narrow the depth of field. This will cause the background to be out of focus while keeping the subject in focus. This technique takes a bit of practice but the effect is worth it.
While a point and shoot camera usually does not allow the user to change aperture setting, this same depth of field effect can be obtained by simply moving closer to the subject. The closer the subject is to camera, the narrower the depth of field it will appear in.
I think I will write a new article about how to take good pictures with a point and shoot camera.
Most photographers prefer that the scene in a landscape be in clear focus from foreground to background. In order to achieve this, wide angle lenses are commonly used. This lens's short Focal Length combined with the appropriately high aperture setting, causes a near infinite depth of field (everything equally in focus).
Since the aperture setting should be set high to help increase the depth of field, the shutter speed will have to be slowed to compensate for the decrease in the amount of light (higher aperture setting = small opening in camera lens).
The ISO setting may also have to be changed to get the exposure right. Getting the exposure correct in landscapes can take some practice, but thanks to digital cameras, we can practice as much as we want without having to waste film.
The slower shutter speeds associated with landscapes makes it essential to use a tripod. The slower the shutter speed the more essential a tripod is. With landscapes, they are an absolute must. Some photographers even use a remote shutter release so they will not shake the camera by pushing the button.
Good landscapes are often difficult to obtain using a point and shoot camera. Point and shoots come with a standard lens that can not be changed our for a wide angle lens.
I hope this article has offered a basic scope on how to take good pictures. As always, happy shooting.
Return to the top of
How to Take Good Pictures,
Beginning Photography Tips,