Photography Tips.

Underline

Picture subject focused on in the centre of the viewfinder.
Imaginary grid, 2 lines spaced evenly horizontally and vertically.
Subject image focused at upper left imaginary grid line cross point.
Subject image focused at upper right imaginary grid line cross point.
Subject image focused at bottom left imaginary grid line cross point.
Subject image focused at bottom right imaginary grid line cross point.
This photograph was taken with a relatively high depth of field so most of the image is in focus.
Camera settings: ISO 400, Shutter Speed 1/125, Aperture ƒ22.
This photograph was taken with a relatively low depth of field so only the centre is in focus.
Camera settings: ISO 100, Shutter Speed 1/125, Aperture ƒ5.4.
This Photograph is taken at normal standing height with the camera more centralised to the path.
This Photograph is taken at normal standing height with the camera a fair way to the right of the path.
This Photograph was taken with the camera lower to
the ground placed slightly to the right on the path.
This Photograph was taken with the camera lower to the ground with the
path more centralised to lead the eye into the subject image.
The ants crawling over the tree bark made a good texture photograph.
The annual rings on this sawn wood made for an interesting texture subject.
The tree branch in the foreground of this photograph lends itself to break up the image.
It also acts as a medium to lead the eye into the background.
The overhanging branch in the foreground of this photograph again breaks up the background.
This time it changes the focus point to the foreground of the photograph rather than the background.
The plant in the foreground of this photograph draws the focus point
to the foreground of the photograph rather than the background.
Once again the overhanging plant in the foreground draws the focus point
to the foreground of the photograph rather than the background.
With a relatively fast shutter speed the water looks quite static!
Aperture set to ƒ4, Shutter speed set to 1/60th of a second, ISO set to 100.
With a relatively slow shutter speed the "blurring" makes the water look like it is moving!
Aperture set to ƒ11, Shutter speed set to 1/8th of a second, ISO set to 100.
With a relatively fast shutter speed the water looks quite static!
Aperture set to ƒ5.9, Shutter speed set to 1/60th of a second, ISO set to 100.
With a relatively slow shutter speed the "blurring" makes the water look like it is moving!
Aperture set to ƒ16, Shutter speed set to 1/8th of a second, ISO set to 100.
Photograph number one from a series of seven taken using a tripod with an indexing pan head feature.
Photograph number two from a series of seven taken using a tripod with an indexing pan head feature.
Photograph number three from a series of seven taken using a tripod with an indexing pan head feature.
Photograph number four from a series of seven taken using a tripod with an indexing pan head feature.
Photograph number five from a series of seven taken using a tripod with an indexing pan head feature.
hotograph number six from a series of seven taken using a tripod with an indexing pan head feature.
Photograph number seven from a series of seven taken using a tripod with an indexing pan head feature.
Windows Live Photo Gallery has a cool tool that can stitch all the images together seamlessly if there is sufficient overlap in the photographs that are used.
The sun is obscured by the tree branch which creates a sunspot as the light filters through the branches.
Focusing on the sun that is reflected in the water gives an interesting effect!
Again focusing on the sun reflection in the water makes for a different sort of photograph!
As the sun peers from behind the church tower it creates a sunspot!
The naturally surrounding trees in the foreground were used to frame
this photograph of the church to draw focus to the centre of the image.
With this photograph the cliffs form a natural frame which
lead the eye into the subject, (The boat on the beach).
This photograph uses a tree with overhanging branches on the right and a
wall and building on the left to frame the cloud covered volcano in the distance.
Similar to the preceding photograph this time two trees are used to frame the clouds and hillside in the distance.
This photograph is taken exactly as the camera decided with no manual adjustments to the shutter speed.
This photograph is under exposed by adjusting the shutter speed manually to make the speed faster by 2 stops!
This photograph is over exposed by adjusting the shutter speed manually to make the speed slower by 2 stops!
This is a combination result of the three photographs used to produce an HDR photograph.

Rule Of Thirds:

One of my greatest failings is that I tend to aim the camera at the subject with the subject image in the centre of the view finder, not that there is anything wrong with this as there are no golden rules as to how you should compose a picture but it can lead to a lot of uninteresting areas within the photograph if the subject is bang in the middle of the picture.
I have tried to get into the habit of re-positioning where the main focal point of a scene is to make it more interesting.
What I do is imagine a grid of four lines, (2 evenly spaced horizontally and 2 evenly spaced vertically) in the viewfinder and then pick the focus point for the subject at a point where the lines cross, as shown in these examples.
I have found that using this technique, (sometimes referred to as "The Rule of Thirds") it can dramatically change the outcome of how a picture can look.

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Subject Centred.

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Imaginary Grid.

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Upper Left.

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Upper Right.

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Bottom Left.

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Bottom Right.

Impact Focus Point:

Sometimes when you take a photograph it can be rather cluttered with the amount of information that is in focus within the photograph so much so that it distracts from the subject image.
Reducing the depth of field can add more impact to a photograph by concentrating on the subject image focus and having the rest of the image out of focus to give a blurred effect. This draws the eye to pay more attention to the subject image.
To achieve a lesser depth of field the camera settings need to be adjusted and a general rule of thumb is that the smaller the ƒ number, (larger aperture) the less depth of field is achieved although shutter speeds and ISO values also play a big part.
However using this technique requires more precise focusing on the subject image and is more vulnerable to camera shake due to the slower shutter speeds that might be used.

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More In Focus, Larger Depth Of Field.
Picture Taken With A Small Aperture.

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Less In Focus, Smaller Depth Of Field.
Picture Taken With A Large Aperture.

Point Of View:

Another of my failings when taking photographs is to always take them at the same height so they always give the same "point of view" as the camera is always at the same point relative to the ground.
Crouching down lower to the ground to take the photograph can again change how the photograph presents itself. Although this can lead to composition problems as you may find yourself sprawled on the floor trying to look through the viewfinder! This is where cameras with "Live View" come into their own.
Taking a few steps to the left or right can also effect the perspective of the photograph as shown by these examples.
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Camera Placed
To The Right.
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Camera Placed
In The Centre.
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Camera Placed
Lower Down.
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Camera Centred
Lower Down.

Sun Spots:

It is a general rule that you should take a photograph with the sun behind you and not in front of you this way the light source illuminates the subject and does not create "sunspots" on the photograph. However as with most rules they can be broken with some interesting results.
Another favourite of mine is to take photographs of the sun reflecting off of water, again generally frowned upon but the photographs can prove interesting.

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Sun Shrouded By
The Tree Branch.

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Sun Reflection
On Water.

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Sun Reflection
On Water.

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Sun Shrouded By
Church Tower.

Framing The Shot:

There are many different ways to make a photograph look more interesting one of them is to use natural surroundings that help you to frame or lead the eye to the main subject of the photograph. This generally means that the subject is going to be in the centre of the photograph but as mentioned earlier there are no golden rules when taking a photograph only guidelines.

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Trees Used As A
Natural Frame.

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Surrounding Cliffs
Lead In The Eye.

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Tree And Wall
Used As A Frame.

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Trees Used As A
Natural Frame.

Texture:

There are many textures in nature that can make for a good photograph it is just a matter of keeping an eye out for that interesting subject. It is worthwhile carrying a tripod or mono pod with you as well because sometimes getting into those awkward areas can be difficult and a bit of extra stability can be a godsend.
I tend to go for the natural wooden textures as I think the bark and the annual rings can be very interesting especially if the wood has started to split or if it has some sort of creature or fungus invading it but this is just my preference, basically if it looks good take a photograph of it.

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Tree Ants And Bark Make
An Interesting Subject For Texture.

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The Annual Rings On These Logs
Also Have An Appealing Texture To Them.

Foreground:

As with using natural surroundings to spice up the photograph, having objects that interfere with the main focus point can also make for an interesting photograph. Picking a subject that has an obstruction close to the camera can make a surprising difference to the outcome of the picture.

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Tree Branch In
The Foreground.

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Tree Branch In
The Foreground

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Flower Obscures
The Foreground.

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Flower Obscures
The Foreground.

Motion Blur:

When I use my Olympus E-510 DSLR on the auto setting it tends to default to the widest aperture and fastest shutter speed for the condition in question and as a result the photograph is very static looking with an almost "freeze frame" feel to it. A way to give the photograph more life to represent movement is to use a slower shutter speed and smaller aperture to give a blurring effect of anything that is moving when the photograph is taken, running water is an excellent example medium to show this. Using the image stabalizer built into the E-510 body I was able to get away with a shutter speed as low as 1/8th of a second at ƒ16 without to much camera shake but a tripod would have suited for these examples better.

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Water Cascade
ƒ4 Speed 1/60.

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Water Cascade
ƒ11 Speed 1/8.

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Water Cascade
ƒ5.9 Speed 1/60.

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Water Cascade
ƒ16 Speed 1/8.

Panoramas:

There is a neat tool that comes with Windows Live Photo Gallery where you can stitch overlapping photographs together to create a panoramic view similar to what you would expect to get from a high quality "Fish Eye" lens.
To make it work successfully you really need to mount the camera on a tripod and index around to achieve best results although this is not essential.
Make sure there is enough overlapping information in the preceding and following photographs to get a good analysis for stitching the images together, you can use as many photographs as you like my example uses seven photographs as seen opposite, (the technique can be used in the vertical plane as well as the horizontal).

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Panorama Image 1.

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Panorama Image 2.

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Panorama Image 3.

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Panorama Image 4.

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Panorama
Image 5.

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Panorama
Image 6.

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Panorama
Image 7.

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Panorama
Result.

HDR Photography:

HDR (high dynamic range) the idea is to merge a number of photographs that are of the same subject some of which are over exposed some of which are under exposed with the intention of achieving a photograph with a higher dynamic range to it. For this demo two photographs were taken either side of normal, manually adjusting shutter speeds by 2 stops + & -
Paint Shop Pro Photo XII Ultimate has an HDR merge tool that is quite good. Access it from the drop down menu as follows... File / HDR Photo Merge, this launches a dialogue box where you can import your photographs for merging. Align the photographs and a preview of the result can be seen, use the suggested settings button and click OK which produces the merged photograph results as a new image for further editing should it require it.


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Normal Exposure
Camera Ideal
Shutter Speed.


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Under Exposure
Minus 2 Stops
Shutter Speed.


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Over Exposure
Plus 2 Stops
Shutter Speed.


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HDR Result Of The
Three Merged
Photographs.



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