We asked our Fujifilm guest, professional-photographer Mat Trim (LBIPP) to give us his top ten tips for taking the perfect picture.
1: Don't just snap. Take a photograph
A snap is what people take with a mobile phone camera or something similar. When you have a digital camera, people sometimes don't think about what's in the picture; rubbish bins, things growing out of people's heads, inappropriate signs, the list is endless!
It only really takes two or three seconds of thought and you can change the whole picture.
2: Nobody looks good shot from a low angle
If you ever have a professional portrait done, the guy is halfway up a step ladder. So, for portraits always get height and shoot down.
Everyone looks better. It gets rid of double-chins and all sorts of problems. The only drawback with shooting down is if someone's losing their hair!
3: Use contrast
Use light and shade, texture, colour, anything to provide a bit of interest. It's looking out for the shot, which links back to tip number one.
4: Use the rule of thirds
What people often do when taking a picture of a landscape is to divide it perfectly in half, balancing with the sky and the land.
If you look at any good landscape photography it's always either one third sky and two thirds land or vice versa.
It also works on the vertical plane as well as the horizontal. On Fuji cameras you can press a button and get a 3×3 grid up on the screen and then you can move your camera around and put the horizon in the right position.
5: Frame the shot
A big sky shot can be pretty boring so you might want to put trees into it. Or, if you're taking a picture of someone, you might want to put them into an archway. Use anything to frame the shot.
6: Look for different angles
You can use the lines of paths or railings to lead the eye into your shot. A classic example would be on a pier. With most people what you would have is just two converging lines of the pier rails and that's not interesting.
If you take just one step to the left or right and allow the railing to travel into the picture, they will lead the eye. It's a classic painters' trick. They use lines to lead your eye in and to make you look.
It's literally just taking a step to the side to change the whole aspect of the picture.
7: Use the self-timer for night shots
If you're doing any night-time photography, one of the most useful camera tools is the self-timer.
Obviously, if it's a night shot it's going to a long exposure, which means the shutter's going to be open for a prolonged period of time.
You just stick the camera on a rock, frame the shot, activate the self-timer, and press the shutter. Nothing happens for a couple of seconds, giving the camera time to be still, and you're away. It works every time.
8: Turn the camera 90 degrees and fill the frame
This is really simple, just turn the camera!
Everybody takes their pictures in landscape, but some pictures look better vertically rather than in the horizontal position.
If you're taking a picture of Battersea Power Station you could do it in landscape but it'd mean it'd be quite a long way away because you couldn't get the height in. But if you did it in portrait and came to one corner of it, it'd be a much better shot.
Also, fill the frame. People seem to worry about fitting it all in and take pictures from too far away or they get excited and take a picture before they're anywhere near it.
Get in close and get a tight shot!
9: Learn to use the focus lock
You've probably seen these pictures where the person in the foreground is fantastically sharp and everything behind is blurred. It really brings to focus the person in the foreground and you can use it in all sorts of situations, mainly in close-up work where you're taking pictures of butterflies or flowers.
Using focus lock, half press the shutter button to frame the camera on what you want to get a picture of, so everything in the picture is set. Then move the camera. The point being that everything behind the object of the picture is out of focus while the object is pin sharp.
It's meant to separate the foreground from the background. When you're doing pictures of plants and trees sometimes you can't see the wood for the trees, literally. But if you want to focus on one tree, just get closer. Then focus on the tree, use the focus lock, move and take the picture.
There's a bit more than that but the focus lock is a very useful tool. It gives you more control over your camera. It's such a useful feature, professionals use it all the time.
10: Be aware of the light
If the sun is behind the person you're taking a picture of, the camera sees a lot of light coming into it so it starts to shut the doors so that the sun and everything else are perfectly exposed while the people in the foreground are in shadow.
Some cameras have a fill-in flash which will fire a flash off when it detects light behind the subject. However, it's not always guaranteed and the flashes on digital compact cameras aren't normally powerful enough to overcome that amount of light.
So it's just a simple thing, if the sun's behind whoever you're shooting, just get them to turn round and you go where they were. Now, if they're squinting into the sun, which is often the case, all you have to do is get the sun slightly over to their left or right.
The word 'professional' doesn't necessarily mean that someone's photos are any better, it just means they're getting paid for it. There are amateur photographers who are a million times better than I am or another professional photographer because it's an art, so stick at it.
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