Tips for Taking Digital Photography

The best tips for taking digital photography really come down to good composition. When a photograph is well composed, it's pleasing to the eye and it holds the viewer's attention. The image tells a story or conveys a message. A strong composition generally produces a strong photograph that inspires and is memorable. To get started thinking about composition, you'll want to consider the theme of the photo, the subject and how you can break the shot down to the simplest components.

Keeping these things in mind, there are number of proven techniques you can use to create a great composition. Your primary goal is to focus the attention on your main subject. Once you've done that, determining the theme and simplifying the shot should almost take care of themselves.

Placement
What do you want to say about the subject? Where and how you place your subject in the photo's composition says a lot. Dead center is a reliable placement, but it may depend on the subject and what you want the photo to convey. Use the rule of thirds to help you determine the best placement for your subject. Imagine the photo's composition divided into three sections-horizontal, vertical or a combination of the two. Place your subject at one of the divisions between areas.

Converging Lines
Imagine a person standing at the end of a long hallway. The person may appear very small in the image, but the eye can't miss it. Why? The construction of the hallway gives rise to several converging lines-the floor, walls and ceiling all meet at distant point that draws your eye to person standing at the end of it.

Playing off vertical and horizontal lines can make your composition more dynamic and pull the eye in. Converging lines are everywhere: Skyscrapers, long, trailing fences, city streets, tree-lined country roads, and stone walkways are just a few everyday examples.

Framing
You can enhance the subject of your photo by introducing the element of a frame into the scene. Look around and see if you can find a way to frame the subject of your photo through a fence, doorway or even tree branches. Experiment with using the sun to silhouette your subject but surround them with shadows. Window shelves, bookcases-open your eyes and you're likely to find a frame already waiting for you.

Repetition
When you're looking for a subject to photograph, keep your eyes open for any shapes, patterns or other elements that repeat. For example, a crowd of umbrellas on a rainy day or a line of aspen trees reflected on the surface of a lake. Taking your camera to a farmer's market is a great way to get used to working with repetition; photograph bunches of flowers wrapped in cellophane, boxes of apples or rows of multicolored peppers.

Selective Lighting
If you're photographing a person standing in a spotlight, there's no question what the subject of the photo or its emphasis is. See if you can find other ways to use light, concentrated or not, and adjacent shadows to create an air of mystery about your photo. Being selective with your lighting choices is a technique particularly suited to photography landscapes, especially at sunset.

Changing Focus
Adjusting the aperture or lens speed of your camera helps you focus on your subject in different ways. Usually you're trying to sharpen the area of the photo where you've placed your subject; the result is that other elements of the photo will be out of focus. Whether you like the effect is a matter of taste, but it can also be used to focus on a subject you've placed in the middle or background. This technique is particularly effective when you're taking informal outdoor portraits.

Clearing Distractions
Once you've chosen one or more methods to highlight the subject of your photo and compose the shot, you'll probably discover that you've hit upon a theme, story or message that you want the photo to convey. Take a lot of pictures. Vary your angle. Experiment. Reexamine your composition. Is there anything in the photo that distracts from the subject? Take a step back or move to the left or right. If possible, physically remove the offending object from the scene. Take more pictures.

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Follow these great beginner photography tips if you have ever seen a great photograph and wondered, "What makes that picture stand out? Why don't my photographs look like that?"

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You don't need sophisticated camera equipment to take better digital pictures, you just need to follow a few basic guidelines for distance and light and be willing to take several shots to better the chances of getting the one you want.

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