Most people assume that beautiful photographs are taken by great photographers with very good and very expensive photographic equipment. While that may be true most of the time, it is not true all the time. Just about anyone with a camera, expensive or not, can produce beautiful images with a little reflection. In fact, thinking before you break may be the main key to creating that wall-hanging masterpiece.

Here are some things to remember when taking pictures:

1. Move closer – Once you see the shot, before you press the shutter, get closer. Eliminate background distractions. In other words, if you’re looking at a sleeping puppy, for example, fill your viewfinder with the puppy. Cut out what is behind or to the side. Zoom in until the sleeping pup fills your view from side to side.

2. Be quick – This may take some practice, but learn to be quick, in case your subject moves, flies away, or gets tired waiting for you to release the shutter. Take the picture. Don’t worry about firing too many shots. In this digital age, wasting film has become a thing of the past. Remember… watch it… compose it… shoot it…

3. Composition is important – A well-composed image is much easier on the eyes, so take a little time to balance your shot. Keep the shooting horizon level. Cut out the extra stuff in the viewfinder. Move the subject around the frame. In other words, just because the vase is in the middle doesn’t mean it has to be there in the photo. Move it off center for a more interesting shot.

4. Be selective on the subject – To take interesting and eye-catching photos, you will need to determine what you really like. This will require shooting all sorts of subjects until you figure it out for yourself. Once you find your passion, your art will follow. Finding ways to document the different aspects of your passion will take a lifetime. You will never run out of sunsets, or cars, or people, or landscapes, if that is what you are passionate about. Again, fill your visor with your passion and leave the rest out.

5. Focus on your subject – Pay attention to your topic. Learn how to erase or blur the background. You want to move the subject forward so that it commands the attention of those looking at the image. Just as some artists paint the same subject over and over again, it will be necessary to photograph the same subject over and over again with different shutter speeds, through different apertures, or in different light. The subject may look better centered in the frame, or it may look better to one side or the other. Play until you are satisfied.

6. Playing with shutter speed – One of the biggest opportunities with photography, sometimes left out of beginner photography tips, is experimenting with shutter speed. Shutter speed allows you to speed up or slow down time. The effective use of shutter speed is what controls the timing of the freeze frame. Using a slow shutter speed and a tripod can capture a time lapse event. While using a fast shutter, you can capture that split-second event that the eye might miss. The important thing is to experience and play. This is the way to learn what can happen.

7. Pay attention to light – Now don’t look at the sun, but watch the light play around your subject. Is it a cloudy day or is it dazzlingly bright? How do the shadows fall on the subject or is there any shadow? Is your subject squinting? Can you see your theme? What does it mean that the sun is in front or behind? Strong light can bring out rich colors, while indirect light can soften the focus. Paying attention to your light source is probably number one for success in passing on photography tips for beginners.

8. Watch the weather – The sky can affect how your photos turn out. A cloudy sky will mute the image tones and wash out the sky and background. Sometimes black and white photography works best on a cloudy day. If it’s sunny outside, then the sky is the limit. If your camera allows you to shoot through filters then get a polarizing lens. This is the lens that brings out fluffy white clouds against deep blue skies.

9. Keep setup simple – At first, it’s best to stick with the simple camera setup. Don’t leave it on automatic and shoot. That can sometimes be frustrating when trying to achieve a certain effect. Put your semi-automatic camera to allow some adjustments and after it improves, put it in the manual program to allow you complete freedom over your settings. So start slow and grow, learning as you go.

10. Cheer up, be bold – Don’t worry about whether or not you have the camera set to the correct settings. Take the photo and keep taking it until you are satisfied with the image. Don’t be afraid, timid or paralyzed by indecision. There is no such thing as politically incorrect in taking pictures.

I hope you have enjoyed my photography tips for beginners.

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