Before The Coffee » Photography

11 Tips to Improve Your Photography

View of Mesquite Sand Dunes in golden light at sunrise with wind ripples across the sand. Death Valley

Mesquite Dunes is fairly populated with foot prints. I can assure you a good workout getting to an area free of footprints.

1. Travel Photography – RESEARCH is your best asset. Plan A should put you at an exact location at a particular time to shoot a pre-visualized scene. After Plan A switch to Plan B which is reacting to what you see and like. Plan B emphasizes taking time to connect with the scene emotionally – explore, walk, be curious and identify the strongest elements.

2. Think of an image as being made up of elements, for example the clouds, water, foreground, texture etc. Identify the elements of a scene and realize that ALL the elements need to be great for a great image. Pay special attention to moving elements, like water and clouds; timing can be essential. Each bland element will degrade your overall image. However, some photographers use textures in post processing to mask weak elements.

3. Composing is the process of adding and taking away elements in the picture space by zooming and/or positioning. You should be spending most of your time doing this when taking a picture.

4. Watch your edges when you compose. Make a commitment for God’s sake – is that element part of your composition or not, don’t pretend it’s not there, we’ll all see it.

5. Work hard to develop a sense of quality of light and when to shoot. Know bad light, good light, and great light. If I’m at a great scene and the light is bad I take a few documentary shots and move on.

6. Even if you have not been bitten by the HDR bug take bracketed image sets. There is a good chance the 0EV will not be your favorite or you can blend several shots together. More images equals more options as your style evolves.

7. Take bad pictures. Who ever heard of such a thing? Well it’s part of the warm-up process to great pictures. Think of it as tuning your composition and camera settings, similar to a musician tuning his guitar before the performance. However, only share your very best, archive everything else.

8. Avoid pitfalls that immediately throw you into the rookie category – tilting horizons, sensor dust, red-eye, and both eyes out of focus.

9. Avoid busy images – each element should be a building block that makes the overall image pleasing. Busy images are like busy days – stressful.

10. Grab shots of the sunset from your front door are rarely great. The sunset is only ONE element of the picture, plan ahead by finding a strong foreground.

11. Your loved ones will tell you it’s a great photograph and it probably isn’t.

  • John Barclay - December 15, 2012 - 3:15 pm

    #4 make me laugh out loud. Make a commitment for goodness sake! I’m reading through these realizing I’m guilty of too many…. Ugh…ReplyCancel

  • valerie from I paint your pet - December 24, 2012 - 11:55 am

    WOW!!!!! Your photos are just beautiful, I had no idea you are a photographer, just found you when looking for clamps! Stunning, gorgeous work, well done you .. you must be so very proud of them all .. fabulous!! Cheers Valerie :-)ReplyCancel

  • Anna - January 6, 2013 - 5:42 pm

    You have always been thee BEST teacher. I value and appreciate your craft, Ferrell. Thank you for sharing your wonderful art work with the rest of us, amateurs. :-)ReplyCancel

  • ME Martin - February 3, 2013 - 12:24 pm

    Gorgeous shot again, Ferrell. And you ARE a good teacher with these tips! Smiling, and nodding – good tips can apply in multiple ways.
    Thank you so much, now that I think of it they can apply in other ways – FerrellReplyCancel

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