Hints on taking better photos #5: Go with the flow

Some days thing just don't work out the way you planned. It's the same in photography. You might want to get some photos of the kids but they'd rather run away, or pull silly faces. You might plan to photograph a waterfall but it's raining or there's no water. So maybe it's time to give up, find a cafe and order an espresso. Or you could just go with the flow...

Hints on taking better photos #4: Leading Lines

When taking a picture, think about what it is that you want the viewer to see. Why are you taking the picture? How are you going to emphasise the subject? Minimising distractions is a good thing to try but you can also use leading lines: things in the scene to draw the viewer's eye in to the subject. Here are a couple of examples.

The first one was taken at sunset on Bruny Island. I had my camera on a tripod, quite low down and just at the limit of where the waves were coming up the beach. There were some rocks with straight edges going down toward the waves so I put the camera between them. The rocks frame an open triangle pointing into the picture and hopefully lead the eye to the breaking wave and the land on the horizon. Something else that helps here is the long exposure (a few seconds I think). As the water rushes out it leaves foam and bubbles that blur and also create lines to lead the viewer's eye.

Here's another one of the kids (quite a while ago now!) riding th…

Long exposures

There's an interesting article by Nick Melidonis in the current issue of Better Photography magazine (no 67, p 94) on the artistic effect you can get with long exposures and deliberately moving the camera while taking the picture. It's a great way to simplify the image and emphasise colour and structure, well worth a read. Anyway, I thought I'd give it a try.

We too a trip to Mt Field National Park recently and took a walk to Russell Falls. I had my iPhone with me and had been using the SlowShutter app to take a long-exposure photo of the falls. On the walk back down the path I decided to try a long exposure while walking. The photo below is an 8 second exposure. All I did was try to keep the point where the path disappeared into the distance at the same place. Anyway, I was pretty impressed with how it turned out. A small amount of editing was done using another app called Filterstorm to increase the contrast a little and saturate the colours.

One of the great things abou…

Hints on taking better photos #3: Take lots of photos

Something that took me a while to get used to when moving from film to digital was that it no longer costs anything to take a picture. That's a great freedom. With digital photography you're free to experiment with different compositions, camera settings, lighting etc. As you do this, you learn what works and what doesn't and the experience pays off. So the hint this week is to just take lots of photos!

The other benefit is that when you've got a moving target or targets, like a family group, you can just keep taking photo after photo. Many of the resulting pictures will be poor with someone squinting or pulling silly faces, but chances are there will be some good ones too. So keep the good ones and discard the rest. Easy.

Hints on taking better photos #2: Keep it Simple

When we take a photo, we tend to concentrate on the main subject and not think too much about the surroundings or the background. Then, later on we look at the picture and realise we placed Uncle George right in front of a lampost and it looks like it's growing out of his head! Similarly, when taking a landscape photo, we might be concentrating on getting a good picture of a mountain but not notice the garbage bin in the foreground. This hint is all about avoiding these situations.