Top Tips

Look before you shoot

We all do it from time to time, but try to curb the tendency to get your camera out immediately when out on a shoot.  Take time to look around and view a location from many different angles and note the best possible viewpoints.  This will help you  develop your observational skills and help you to increase the number of really good shots. 

A copy is not a backup!

To avoid a lot of heartache, make sure you have at least a two stage backup system in place.  You need to backup your images (and catalogue if using Lightroom) to at least two separate drives.  Ideally you should keep the drives in different locations.  External HDD are relatively cheap now but remember hard drives (even solid state) can sometimes fail.

 

Always use a Lens Hood

A lens hood protects your lens from rain but also offers general protection if you have your camera in your bag with the lens cap off.  When shooting into the sun the lens hood will help to avoid flare and when shooting through glass if you put your lens hood right up against the glass you can avoid unwanted reflections.

Compose in mono for monochrome prints

 

If your camera allows you the view a potential shot in monochrome (and nearly all mirrorless cameras do), try using this facility  to compose. It will enable you see immediately see whether the shot works in mono.  Regularly going out on a shoot with a monochrome setting will also help you develop a feel for potential mono compositions.  However, if you are forced to shoot in colour and then decide whether to convert to mono, ask yourself  “Is colour an essential feature of the shot?”  If not, convert to monochrome.

Shoot in RAW

To give yourself the greatest flexibility when editing your images shoot in RAW.  This will enable you to recover under/over exposed images with ease.  If you are using Art filters or film emulations in your camera shoot in RAW + jpeg.  The jpeg will show you the effect of the filter but if you don't like it you always have the RAW file to fall back on.

Get Help from Adobe

Check out the Adobe website adobe.com for inspiration and Lightroom and Photoshop Tutorials.  You can also access the live events and if you are a registered Adobe user enter images for their competitions.

Compose for your aspect ratio when shooting rather than cropping in post-production

Most digital camera will let you see the effect of different aspect ratios on the LCD screen.  Try composing with a non-native aspect ratio eg 16:9 or 1:1 to ensure that the composition works with this rather than cropping later and finding it doesn't quite work.

Take full advantage of all the shooting possibilities

 

When you find a good subject remember that you can capture it in a number of ways:  landscape and portrait views are the most obvious.  However, try a low shot or a high shot (rather than just stick to eye level) - easy if your camera has a tilting screen.  Also try different apertures to alter the depth of field and, where appropriate, different shutter speeds to give a sense of movement.  Finally, try looking at the scene with different aspect ratios. Each can bring its own subtle differences to a composition.