As a professional photographer, one of the questions I get asked a lot is, “Why do your photos look better than mine, even when we are standing right next to each other?”
Just a little bit of photography know-how can take your photos from mediocre to marvelous. Here are five quick tips for taking better photos so that you can confidently capture better images.
#1 – Depth & Framing
Landscape photos should have a sense of depth. Having something in the foreground, middle ground and background will give the impression of real depth. Without some of these features, you end up with a “flat” image. Place a rock, tree, or flowers in the foreground so that the mountains in the background seem much further away. Some photographers will even frame their images with overhanging branches from a tree or shoot through an archway or window.
#2 – Time of Day
Time of day can also be important for not only setting the mood but also for better contrast and lighting. Early morning or afternoon has the sun close to the horizon which will give you deep shadows for texture and tone. Also, you might find that early morning will also give you much less cluttered images, as only a few brave souls will actually get up that early.
#3 – Move Around
Move your feet! It sounds simple, but how many time have you been guilty of walking up to a landscape or building and just snapping one shot? After all, if you got the shot, why bother with getting a few more? Two reasons. One is that the bare piece of ground you are standing on will give you the exact same shot as hundreds or thousands before you. It is said that if you go to Yosemite Park and view the famous Yosemite Falls, you can find where Ansel Adams photographed them. Just look down for the three holes in the ground where thousands of photographers have placed their tripods in the exact same spot. Now I am not saying not to get that iconic shot, but move around and get a number of other photos too. Who knows – you might even come up with your own vision of the landscape that is pretty good too. Also, don’t be afraid to move or zoom the focal length of the lens for different looks. Yes, wide angle is the norm for landscapes, but who says you can’t zoom in too?
And speaking of moving your feet, don’t get too comfortable. So many times we look for the easy shot. Start walking around and really seeing the area you want to photograph. Drive down the road a little more. Walk up the hill and turn around; there might be something interesting behind you too. Don’t just stop to smell the roses – photograph them too.
#4 – Experiment
If you are photo geek with more than one lens in your bag, why not challenge yourself? Pick one lens and shoot with it for an hour or two. Got a zoom lens? Rack it all the way out and don’t move it, then move your feet to get a different look. Experiment and have fun with your photos!
#5 – Set Yourself Up for Success
One last bit of wisdom comes from a National Geographic photographer I know. If you are complaining that you can’t find anything interesting to photograph, go and stand in front something more interesting. Take your camera to areas that will offer more visual and exciting photographs. Get up early and drive out to some of those vistas you like and see what they look like just as the sun comes up. Get on a plane and go to countries that don’t speak English for a different point of view. Or, at the very least, pretend you are a tourist. Look at the land you are in as if you are seeing for the first time. You might be surprised at what you will see!