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10 rules of photo composition (and why they work)

10 rules of photo composition (and why they work)
In photography, it’s not just what you shoot that counts – the way that you shoot it is crucial, too. Poor photo composition can make a fantastic subject dull, but a well-set scene can create a wonderful image from the most ordinary of situations. With that in mind, we’ve picked our top 10 photo composition ‘rules’ to show you how to transform your images, as well as offered some of our best photography tips from the experts who do it on a daily basis. Don’t feel that you’ve got to remember every one of these laws and apply them to each photo you take. Photo composition doesn’t have to be complicated. In the real world, you’ll be working with a wide range of subjects and scenes, and this requires a more open-minded approach. The key thing is to understand how all the decisions you make about composition can affect the way a shot looks and how people perceive your photos. Technical know-how is very important in photography, of course, and even in some aspects of photo composition.

Sky Photography: how to take pictures of the sky that dramatically fill your frame Big sky photography can give your landscape photos immediate impact, but how do you cope with the obvious contrast issues when taking pictures of the sky? Follow these simple DSLR tips and learn exactly how to adapt your approach to sky photography that fills your frame. Words and images by Mark Hamblin All images by Mark Hamblin Alongside the latest camera gear, the most talked about topic for photographers seems to be the weather. No, what we want are skies full of cumulus clouds, shafts of sunlight, rainbows and the constant threat of a downpour. For many landscape views it’s the sky that makes the picture. But the opposite is true for big, cloud-filled pictures of the sky when the sky itself can become the main focal point of the picture. When faced with dramatic skies, try to make the most of them by increasing the ratio of sky to land, filling half or more of the frame for added impact. Don’t forget the land altogether though.

49 awesome photography tips and time savers Fitting your photography around the demands of family life (check out our ever-popular free family portrait photography cheat sheet) and the working week is often more difficult than figuring out the technical complexities of your camera. To help you get the absolute most from your photography time, we have come up with 49 of the best photography tips and time savers that are guaranteed to get you better results, help you edit your shots with ease and simply enjoy your picture taking more. From checking your kit before you leave the house to setting up your camera on location and tips for improving your photo composition, you’ll find plenty of suggestions for saving yourself time and getting organized – thereby reducing the chance of missing out on shots – long before you even press the shutter release. And of course, no matter how much preparation and care you’ve taken when shooting, you’ll need to store, sort and edit the images you take. Before you shoot Camera settings

White Balance: how to use a colour chart to get tones perfect When you photograph most subjects, getting the colours 100% accurate isn’t usually critical, and if you shoot on Auto White Balance, nine times out 10 your digital will do a pretty good job of getting the white balance roughly right, so that whites actually look white, blacks look black, and all the colours in between look how you’d expect. But sometimes getting colours 100% accurate is critical – when you need to photograph a painting to be reproduced in a book, say. The only way to ensure accurate colours is to get your white balance spot on, and the best way to do this is to use a colour chart. These charts are calibrated to ensure that the white square is pure white, the black one is pure black and so on. By using these colours as a reference, you can eliminate colour casts caused by different light sources. Of course, most of us don’t photograph priceless artworks, but the principles apply to any subject. Step 2: Get the right length You need to use the right focal length.

How to set custom white balance for perfect colours Your camera’s Auto white balance setting is great for general subjects, but strong colours can fool it. It can also be difficult to match the white balance presets to the conditions you’re shooting in. In these situations, you can use a Preset Manual (Nikon) or Custom white balance (Canon) setting to get colour spot on. Shoot an image of a white or grey subject (a piece of card or paper) in the same lighting as your subject and the camera then uses the colours in this image to get the white balance right (for more, see how to get spot on white balance using a colour chart). Because this white balance is then fixed, this technique is only suitable for shooting in consistent light. Creating a custom white balance setting will save you time when you’re editing your shots, and also enables you to more accurately assess the colours when you review the images on your camera’s rear LCD screen. How to set custom white balance Step 1: Position the card

DSLR Tips: the best settings for preserving detail in any situation Tired of losing detail in high-contrast conditions? Try these DSLR tips and learn how to use your camera’s lighting optimisation feature for preserving that detail in any situation you may find yourself. Images by Mark Hamblin Many cameras have a widget that helps to extract additional detail from your images. Auto Lighting Optimization (Canon) or Active D-Lighting (Nikon) makes a post-shot adjustment of the highlight and shadow areas to improve the tonality of an image by restoring detail in the brightest and darkest parts of the picture. With this function switched on, digital processing is applied to the shadows and highlights when necessary to produce a final picture with less contrast and increased detail. It’s a useful tool for scenes with a high dynamic range and can be applied at various strengths. It can also make exposure adjustment features such as Exposure Compensation and Auto Exposure Bracketing less effective.

In pictures: insect macro photography Macro photography can open up a whole new world. The below photographs feature macro photography of insects; you might feel disgusted to look at them, you might cringe, but you might also see insects in a whole new light – close up they are fascinating, colourful, beautiful, and even cute! If you’re looking for tips on photographing insects, read our post ‘8 things every insect photographer must know‘, and if you’re looking for macro photography tips, look no further than our post ‘How to set your autofocus for macro photography’. I’m Coming © Ondrej Pakan Shower © Lee Peiling Incoming © Bob Jensen Eyes Wide Open © Velian Jagev RIP © Uda Dennie Takeoff © Bob Jensen The Katydid © Steve Passlow Red Veined Darter © Martin Amm Parasitoid Wasp’s Eye © Yousef Al Habshi Moya © Magda Wasiczek © Vitali Bolucevschi Butterfly © Vincentius Ferdinand Small, but Strong © Uda Dennie Sympetrum sp © Thomas Valenta Bull? Wasp © Soheil Shahbazi Tiny Wasp © Popumon Tih We’re Friends © Popumon Tih Frozen © Tom Kruissink

10 portrait photography mistakes every photographer makes (and how to fix them) Most photographers take a portrait shot at some point. You might not think of it as such, you might think of it as a holiday photo, documentary photography shot or a family photo, but if there’s a person in it, it’s also portrait photography . People photos can be particularly tricky to get right because many subjects have strong ideas about how they do and don’t want to appear, and not all are comfortable in front of the camera. In this article our head of testing, Angela Nicholson, explains some of the common mistakes that photographers make when shooting portraits and explains how to avoid them. Portrait Photography Mistake No. 1: Shooting wide Although you can produce really funky shots with a wide-angle lens, few of them tend to find favour with the subjects. Wide-angle lenses make close subjects look much bigger than those that are further away and with a portrait this can mean a big nose, above a receding chin, on a small face with tiny eyes.

99 Common Photography Problems (and how to solve them) As well as being one of the most expensive hobbies around, photography is also one of the more technical pastimes you can pursue. But it doesn’t have to be confusing! We’ve spoken to numerous experts over the years, as well as photographers like you, who may either be just starting out or have been taking pictures for a while but keep encountering the same nagging problem. From all our conversations, we’ve noticed some common photography problems that seem to plague snappers of all ages and abilities. Below, we’ve put together 99 of the most common photography problems and offered solutions to get round them, so you never have to be in doubt ever again! We’ve offered a mix of camera tips, explanations, definitions and more to help answer your questions. Finally, if you have a nagging photography problem and we didn’t cover it… let us know! General photography problems we all experience A full-frame camera uses a sensor that’s the same size as a frame of 35mm film. Follow us on Pinterest!