Practical tips for taking more beautiful photos
Tips for taking better photos
First and foremost, a beautiful photo must have a coherent structure. An unusual perspective, a particularly harmonious atmosphere or an exciting interplay of colours, light and shadow. Although many errors can be corrected with the help of image editing programs, they cannot turn a bad photo into a good one. We’ll show you how to take some great pictures that are sure to look particularly good in your living room, bedroom or kitchen – and with these eye-catchers you’ll always have an exciting story to tell your visitors!
Focus on the main subject
There’s a lot that can be retouched when it comes to digital images. But only rarely can very prominent details in the background be hidden completely. So pay attention to any potentially distracting factors in the background when taking the photo. If a dominant element is visible, for example, then this will distract from the actual subject. To put it another way: when taking a photo, make sure that your attention is actually on the main subject and is not deflected away by bright colours or large objects. Objects with a very eye-catching colour pose the biggest problem here. Other prominent objects that do not stand out with respect to their colour can be moved even further into the background by playing around with sharpness and blur.
To get only the main subject in focus and the background out of focus, you should open the aperture wide to reduce the area of the shot that is in focus. Remember: the faster the lens, the more pronounced the interplay of sharpness and blur that these smaller f-numbers create.
Putting a person in the picture as the main subject
On most trips, the focus of your photographs will be on capturing beautiful landscapes and special sights as souvenirs. But photos of nature and extraordinary buildings alone are not everything. After all, you should also be able to look back at your photos and see that you were actually there at your destination. So you should put yourself or your fellow travellers into the scene together with the sight or the breathtaking landscape that you’re capturing. We’ll show you the most important rules when it comes to positioning your main subject within the photo.
Going on holiday this summer? Then we’ll go into a little more detail here about how you can capture the best moments of your trip. Take a look right away!
The golden ratio as a rule of proportions
In general, it is advisable to follow the golden ratio when it comes to the placement of your main subject. The golden ratio is the division of a distance into a ratio of 61.8 per cent and 38.2 per cent. This proportion is considered to be particularly aesthetic, as it is found both in nature and in humans.
If this rule of proportions is applied to both the long and short sides of the image section, both from the left and from the right, a grid of four lines is created. These four lines in turn give rise to four intersections, which serve as a guide to correct placement. The main subject should therefore cover or at least touch at least one or two of these intersection points.
A simplified variant of this division is the rule of thirds. As the name suggests, here the sections are divided into three equal areas, which also creates a grid. The big advantage you get with the rule of thirds is that this grid can be shown on most digital cameras, either in the viewfinder and/or on the display in live view mode.
Centred positioning for variety
Sometimes the middle of the photo can also be just right. For example, certain routes leading through a city or landscape, as well as bridges, temples and other historical structures, offer a certain symmetry in which the person can be perfectly placed.
The right perspective for your photographs
It can be exciting to photograph an object from an entirely different perspective. A worm’s eye view is a particularly good choice for places with high buildings or even in forests. The opposite of this would be the bird’s eye view, with which photographs are taken looking down from high above. Particularly in these times of drone photography, entirely new ways of working with a bird’s eye view are being opened up.
Here we’ll explain in a little more detail what drone photography is all about, and how you can start your own first attempts at flight yourself!
However, both perspectives can lead to falling lines when photographing buildings. These lines make a building look as though it is tilting forwards or backwards. This effect can be applied intentionally. Or if you want to avoid such lines, you can do so by standing at eye level with the subject of your photograph. If, however, you are unable to achieve such a position, you will be able to correct the falling lines to a certain extent during post-processing.
The most important thing to remember when choosing a perspective is that you should not be afraid to try out new and unusual perspectives. Because often it’s the uncomfortable poses in particular that help create the best photos and give them that special something. Unusual perspectives in particular will encourage those looking at your photo to think and wonder – so if you’ve managed to take such a picture, it will definitely be the perfect snapshot to show off in a prominent position at home. Aluminium dibond in particular will make the colours in your photos really pop!
Make the image come to life
If you want to achieve photos that appear true to life, make sure not to artificially drape the subject. It’s better to just snap away at your subject when you get the chance. Especially when shooting people, it’s important to ensure that the shot is not too posed. So keep your preferred background and subject in view at all times. It’s not unusual for a fellow traveller to stand at just the right vantage point and marvel at the surroundings. This exact moment gives you the perfect opportunity to press down on the shutter button and capture the moment. Only in this way can you make the shot look natural, spontaneous and lively, since you rarely get an authentic feel from a subject looking directly into the camera.
To be able to react quickly enough for such shots, you will need a rather short exposure time of 1/125 seconds or less. But a short exposure time will require sufficient ambient light. If your ultimate goal is to bring the person into focus, you can open the aperture of the lens wide. Since this is how we achieve the combination of sharpness and blur we talked about earlier. Make sure that the focus of the camera is on your subject to ensure this is actually in focus and only the background appears blurred.
If, in spite of an open aperture, the ambient light is insufficient, the ISO value can be increased. Modern cameras in particular are capable of noise-free photography even when at higher ISO settings. Nevertheless, always be careful when increasing this setting and take a look at the first photo, making sure to zoom in when doing so, before taking any more. For still subjects like landscapes and buildings, the ambient light factor is not as problematic. With the help of a tripod, you can take enough time during your shoot to try out different settings until you get the perfect shot. A tripod eliminates any problems that could otherwise occur as a result of taking photos with long exposure times, such as when taking a photo that is entirely in focus using a smaller aperture, for example. For pure landscape shots, special light effects, such as the blue or golden hour, help you to bring life to your shot. Likewise, backlighting and aperture effects can add the finishing touches to a landscape image.
Correct use of the flash
Another mistake that is often made is the incorrect use of the integrated flash. You do not need to have the flash on when taking photos of buildings since the camera’s built-in flash will not be able to illuminate them at all. At this point you would be better off using a longer exposure time and a tripod.
On the other hand, when taking pictures of people against backlighting, you should always use the flash so that you will be able to recognise the people in the photo later on. Use one of the semi-automatic programs, such as automatic mode (P), shutter priority (S or Tv), aperture priority (A or Av), or manual mode. In these modes, the camera does not automatically trigger the flash, and you will have to turn on the built-in flash manually. To manually turn on the flash, most SLR and system cameras have a separate head on the housing. In this moment, the flash acts as a fill-in flash or auxiliary light, softening any harsh shadows on the face.
Automatic programs are not always the best
In addition to the flash, the fully automatic mode integrated into many cameras and the various subject programs make them easy and convenient to use. For starters, these can be a good solution when it comes to getting used to handling a system or SLR camera. Although the automatic programs usually achieve a good result, they do not always deliver the result you were expecting. This is because the automatic mechanisms of your camera sometimes use the flash inappropriately or are unable to properly vary the depth of field. So you should gradually work your way up from semi-automatic to manual mode if you want to get the most out of your camera equipment.
To operate the camera in manual mode, it is important to know the individual parameters such as the aperture, exposure time and ISO value and to understand how these interact with one another. So to begin with you should gradually work with the various semi-automatic modes, since you can then always influence one of these parameters manually, while the camera adjusts the other parameters for you. When reviewing your images, make sure to also take a look at the meta data so that you can analyse the situation in which your camera used the parameters and how.
Read and learn more about this in our little glossary:
To sum up,
a high-quality camera is by no means a guarantee of taking good photos. As with so many things, in photography, too, it’s a case of practice, practice, practice. Start small. To begin with, use the convenient subject programs, observe the meta data and familiarise yourself with the most important terms. Take your time with your shots and don’t be afraid to play with the different settings and functions.
Even if the setting gets it totally wrong at one time or another, see it as an important moment you can learn from. Once you’ve made the transition to semi-automatic mode, manual mode is not much further out of reach – and you’ll soon be able to flawlessly capture breathtaking moments in your photos.
A little tip:
To keep track of your progress, think about keeping a small daily journal in which you record your experiences, settings and comments – ideally in the form of a photo diary in which you can note the lighting conditions, camera settings and much more right next to your photos! This is not only very practical, but also a pleasure to look at and learn from.
We hope we’ve been able to successfully inspire you! One more thing: You can now quickly and easily send your favourite snapshots to all your friends and family as a postcard via direct mail using our ifolor app. Try it out now!