Click to enlargeTake Great Images<BR>Click here<BR><BR>

Great images are easy...once you know the basics.

1. Use a plain background. Clutter ruins pictures. You have the perfect rose image with the garage in the background. If the subject of your pictures is a light color, then the background should be darker and the reverse is true also. The background should not overpower the subject - your little girl standing in front of a red corvette.

2. Choose a subject that is visually appealing by itself and then work it into an attractive composition by changing positions from varying heights and different lighting angles. After about 20 attempts you will start to see images that are creative and interesting.

3. The camera should be eye level with your subject, get down on your knees if necessary. If you get down on your stomach you will get a great flower picture and people will stop because they think you have died.

4. Don't put your subject directly in the center of the picture. If your subject is a little off to one side or in a corner. It will make a big difference.

5. Get close to your subject but do not risk harm to yourself or the subject. Don't show your neighbor's cat where to find the baby birds.

6. Use a tripod, or set the camera on a flat object. You can use a jacket or a purse to position the camera. Or carry a five pound bag of's good exercise.

7. Reduce the number of colors in the picture. The fewer the better. If you are photographing people, try to have everyone wearing similiar and subdued colors. A green background looks good in most images and it is easy to find.

8. Wait until an hour before sunset to take your picture, the sun will be very low in the sky, the light will be a warm color, the shadows will be very soft and very interesting. You can have soft light directly on the subject or produce a glow around and behind the subject. Soft light creates images that are easy to enhance in your computer

9. Increasing contrast with computer software makes the colors pop. So you want to work with an image that starts out low in contrast.

10. Before or after sunset the light is particularly warm and soft. Low light conditions often produce some exciting visual photographic effects.

11. In low light conditions the shadows are longer and softer, and the contrast between light and shadow are reduced. The subjects often reflect very warm sunlight tones - between pink and deep orange giving them a romantic glow. Details are not as obvious because shadows are reduced and color becomes the subject of the photograph.

12. It takes experience at looking at photos to learn the difference, but you will find that any photos you take within a half hour of sunset will almost always be more attractive than photos you took during other times of the day. This is often true of sunrise photos also, but the light is usually not as pink or orange.

13. Learn to see the color of light. It's called "magic light" among other things, with gold, orange or reddish light covering the landscape. Even when you are not taking pictures, you should go outside just prior to sunset and observe the sunlight on the trees. You will often see the tree trunks turn orange. It will help you to become aware of the color of light and how it affects your photographs.

14. Define a mood. The pictures taken in low light conditions intentionally appear moody (low key) and darker than daylight pictures (high key). This effect is produced by spot metering the subject (such as the sky) and slightly reducing the amount of exposure to ensure the colors are properly reproduced. Noon sunlight is hard to fix in a photograph with a few exceptions.

15. Use a meter. Low light landscape photography: with the sun behind you, meter the sky on the horizon in front of you and it will almost always produce a beautifully exposed photograph. A little practice may be necessary to allow for the quirks of your meter.

16. Successful pictures of wildlife will increase in proportion to the amount of food you provide. They will come in for food bait and hang around longer so that photo opportunities increase. The second best option is to find a natural food source and sit in a blind. If the animals are used to seeing cars they will ignore a person sitting in a car, effectively making it into a blind. If the animals are particularly wary, you can cover the windows of the car with camouflage cloth and take pictures with the lens sticking out of the cloth. If you are hidden the animals and birds will approach your location if you just sit still long enough.

17. The eyes are the most important. Getting the camera at the eye level of your subject will increase the apparent attractiveness of the photograph. It increases the intimacy of the moment with your subject and makes the eyes dominate the picture. Looking into their eyes creates a momentary relationship, a sense of "knowing" the subject by reading its expression. However, the safety of both the subject and the photographer are of primary importance. You will never make enough money off of a photograph to begin to justify injury to the subject or yourself. And wild animals look uncomfortable which makes a bad image.

18. An irresponsible photograph will be rejected by any responsible publication and earn you a bad reputation. Nobody wants to be accused of contributing to the harm of any wildlife subjects, either directly or indirectly.

19. Don't go on private propery without permission. You could end up carrying home some buckshot. Or you will be banned from future use.

20. Capturing motion requires more light. To capture sharp pictures of moving animals and flying birds you will have to extend your photography to the hours when the sun is higher in the sky and light increases sufficiently to use a fast shutter speed. At those times it is almost impractical to attempt to use a tripod. If you sit in a car and use a stiff camera bag resting on the window ledge it will give sufficent support to allow you to shoot with a long lens and track moving animals and birds. It will also take some of the stress off of your arms.

21. Digital cameras can be purchased that will allow you to hand hold the camera by increasing the ISO speed, but they are very expensive and the images will still need cleaning with software to remove digital noise. There are some good point and shoot zoom cameras with surprisingly long lenses.

22. Autofocus. Nothing can beat having autofocus on your camera. This photographer has many pictures of flying birds that would have been impossible without autofocus. It is hard enough just to keep a long lens steady and keep the bird in the viewfinder - without having to focus too. The automatic exposure combined with autofocus will capture a perfect picture even if the photographer knows nothing about photography. Cameras are so sophisticated now that impossible shots are becoming common. Almost everyone can get great flying bird shots.

23. Exposure: For animals or moving subjects, use the fastest shutter speed the light will allow. Shallow depth of field will make the subject snap out from its background in a photograph.

24. Use a spot-meter if your camera has one.

25. Bracket exposures (vary the amount of light). Some of the most artistic shots and best shots are taken when the exposure is "way off" average.

26. Learn how to correct the exposure in your computer with an inexpensive photo editing software program. Learn how to change the color cast from cool to warm. Learn how to add and subtract small elements to the image. Learn how to lighten overly dark areas and darken overly bright areas. All images need some corrections. Learn how to increase or decrease contrast. Learn how to create an "S curve" and improve almost every image in one click.

27. Buy a software program and get some books on how to use the program. Buy books for similar programs and learn more about the basics of photo correction.

28. Learn more:

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