You can improve your photographic skills and get better picture-taking results with a little self-education. The only thing it takes to avoid novice-level photography errors that spoil shots and make you miss important moments is a little education.
Pay attention to your light. The lighting in a photograph can bring a subject into better focus or change the mood of the picture. Different lighting setups will result in very different photographs. Avoid harsh direct lighting on your subject’s face, as this will generally cause them to squint.
Use manual white balance to spice up your photos. It is possible to let the camera decide the proper white balance for a given environment, but sometimes the camera will get it wrong and the photo will look washed out. Using a manual white balance also allows you to take artsy photos with sepia tones, for instance.
Use the right lens for the job. If you are photographing a landscape, for example, you need a wide-angle lens that will let you capture as much of the scene as possible, while sporting events generally require a telephoto lens that let you capture faraway players in high detail. Knowing what lens to choose will make it much easier to produce quality photos.
If you’re doing a landscape shot, try and capture some movement in the shot. Whether it’s the wind blowing the trees or a wave crashing against the shore, capturing this movement can add an extra layer of depth to the photograph. If you’re going to try and capture movement, make sure you’ve got the shutter speed set correctly.
Shoot during the “golden hours,” especially if you are shooting human subjects. The time around dawn and dusk are named “golden hours” because the hue of the light makes objects look like they are glowing. This light also complements human skin, making human subjects appear to look better than they would in photos taken at other times of day.
A good photography tip is to try and be helpful when you’re offering criticism. Don’t just tell someone that their photograph is nice, or that you like it. Tell them specifically what you like about it, and why you think it makes the photograph strong. The same goes for what you don’t like about the photograph.
Don’t rely too heavily on image-editing software. It’s a great tool to have, but if you rely on it too much, your photographs will start to look highly artificial. Try to achieve what you want before bringing it into image-editing software.
Learn about composition rules. Practice and experiment with these rules to create unique pictures. For instance, organizing a picture around diagonal lines gives an impression of depth. You can also play with colors and gradual nuances to give an impression of movement to a picture. Do not follow the rules blindly, but learn when to use them.
Hopefully now you understand that improving your photography skills isn’t quite as hard as it appears. All it takes is learning new techniques, taking lots of practice shots, and continuing to experiment with new ideas. When you see the quality of your photos improve, you will know that your efforts are having a positive effect.