Ten tips for better pix

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Photography is a continuous learning process. Even at the professional level, photographers are experimenting with new processes, new techniques and even shared knowledge to improve their images. To become a pro usually means that the photographer has spent some time as an “apprentice” to a well established pro shooter. However, you can get there on your own, with the help of books (something I wrote about a few weeks ago).

Now, despite the advent of technologies such as auto-exposure, auto focus and ‘instant’ review of shots, the practice of photography remains the same. Follow the ‘rules’ and you will find your ratio of good images to bad images will improve.

Over the years, I have been asked many times to give out the “secrets” you learn in the professional photography arena. I have written the basic ones here, just keep reading. I should add that all these tips come from real life experiences.

Tip number 1. Incredibly basic, but it is simply to read your camera’s manual. Read the manual again. In the case of digital cameras, read the manual again. You cannot do it too often. With digitals, you can see the effect immediately. When all else fails – read the manual again. The answer is all in there.

Tip number 2. Always carry one more memory stick or card than you think you’ll need when on holidays. The shot of a lifetime will appear and you will have already filled your card. When you are digital, you haven’t got the time to sit there going ‘review-delete-review-delete’ with your digital SLR.

Tip number 3. Frequently check the exposure controls on your camera, that they really are set on Auto, or Shutter priority, the ISO rating you want or what your standard settings are. It is very easy to knock the controls and settings when taking the camera in and out of the bag, or even when it has been hanging round your neck.

Tip number 4. When you get back home, download the images into one electronic folder clearly marked with information such as “Loy Krathong 2014” for example. Once again, very basic, but very necessary when you are looking for one particular image. And by the way, download into a back-up folder as well.

Tip number 5. When going on holidays with your camera, take spare batteries with you – always. No matter how new the batteries, if there is a failure while you are trekking in Mongolia, or just lazing on the beaches in Koh Samet you will not be able to get the correct replacement. Remember also that your camera may use more than one type of battery, another trap for young players. Keep spares of both kinds. And just taking the charger with you does not help when you are in the middle of a desert somewhere.

Tip number 6. I mentioned this next one a few months ago. Always check that the camera neck strap is indeed tight and secure on both ends. If one end lets go, the camera will hit the ground before you have time enough to catch it. Cameras do not bounce well, if at all.

Tip number 7. Never keep your camera in the glove box of your car. The temperatures that can be reached in the cubby hole reach as high as 50 plus degrees Celsius in our blazing summers. The newer “plastic” bodied cameras and camera backs can actually warp with the high temperature.

Tip number 8. Always put spare memory sticks or cards back in their plastic containers, and keep them in the camera bag. I even suggest you tie them in place, so they don’t get lost. When you need it in a hurry, it has to be accessible. It will happen, believe me.

Tip number 9. When shooting children or animals for doting parents/owners, get down to the subject’s level. You’ll get a better shot! Remember bacon fat for cats and a box of matches for dogs!

Tip 10. Remember the Rule of Thirds. Place the subject one third in from one side and one third down from the top edge for photos that appeal.

Now that was simple, wasn’t it. Now go and apply them.