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Go on a shooting spree

chris higgins
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in focus On the occasion of World Photography Day today, follow these tips and tap the photographer in you

New anglesHone your photography skillsPHOTO: G.N. RAO
New anglesHone your photography skillsPHOTO: G.N. RAO

There are many simple tips and tricks that you can employ to take your photography to the next level, without worrying about any technical aspects of your camera.

Patience.

Stop rushing your photos. Just because your camera can point and click, that doesn’t mean that you should end your effort there. Take a moment before you hit the button and think – is there another way to take this photo? Is this photo capturing what I want to capture?

Change your viewpoint.

Taking photos at standing eye level all the time gets boring. Instead, look for opportunities to view at the world from different angles. Stand on a chair or table or lie on the floor and start exploring what happens when you look down or up with the camera. Similarly, don’t be afraid to move items or people around so that you get a more exciting composition.

Avoid the clutter!

Cluttered images look amateur. What sets aside professional photography is that the images typically have a single aspect that draws the viewer’s eye. There are two things that you can do to achieve this effect:

Firstly, get in close. Fill the frame with your target object or person so the viewer understands what is important in the image. Secondly, look for simple backgrounds that allow the subject to stand out. A simple background can be coloured or textured, but it should provide contrast. There should be nothing in the frame that is more interesting or eye-grabbing that the topic of your photo.

Lighting

The ability to use complex lighting is what separates professional photographers from the rest of us. Think of film sets with dozens or even hundreds of lights. Obviously, this sort of equipment and technical knowledge is out of the reach of most people, so what can you do to improve your own photos?

When outdoors, turn on your flash if you are photographing people. This will fill out the small shadows that appear on people’s faces in bright sunlight. Also, take a moment to think about the direction of the sunlight and the shadows that are being cast.

Indoors, try to avoid using flash at all. It almost never looks good. Instead move your subject closer to a window or lamp. Try using lighting from different angles, including from the sides, to create interesting shadow effects.

Simple composition tips

The rule of thirds says that if you divide your composition into thirds, both horizontally and vertically and then align important elements of composition on these lines, the image will look more balanced. The simplest way to think of this is that you shouldn’t put the subject in the centre of the photo. Instead, move them slightly to one side. Remember – this isn’t a passport photo!

When you are photographing people, there are two easy compositions that work well. Take the photo at either full length (you can see their feet to their head) or a close up from chest/shoulder level to the head. Photos that are cropped at knee, hip or waist height can look awkward.

Practice makes perfect

Even professional photographers know that less than one in a hundred photos is worth displaying. Get used to carrying your camera around with you and take as many photos as you can. When you find a photo that you love, ask yourself, what is it about the subject, composition and lighting that you like? Then try to use this knowledge the next time you are taking photos.

chris higgins

(The writer is VP, Admissions and Marketing, Annapurna International School of Film + Media)


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