take better digital pictures

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So, you want to learn how to take better digital pictures. You've come to the right place! This web site is full of tips for taking digital photography. This post is an intro that covers three main elements you will want to explore.

  • Photo Composition
  • Photo Lighting
  • Photo Exposure

You might feel that finding what to take pictures of is a big challenge for beginning photographers. I don't think it should be. You can take extraordinary photos of ordinary objects by starting with those 3 basic elements and improving your photography incrementally. 

Imagine what it would be like for you to improve your digital photography by just 5% each week. After just a month of very small weekly steps your photography would be 20% better as a photographer. After celebrating your anniversary of 1 year of improving your photography, you'd be %250 better.

That's a significant improvement in taking better digital pictures. Here's a search box if you want to find out more about a specific topic on this website:

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Each of these 3 elements for improving your photography has links to more detailed, in depth information. Make sure you know how to use your camera before you read this section. It may be boring, but you should read your Camera Instructions carefully before you work on learning how to take better digital pictures.

photo composition

One of the great things about shooting with a digital camera is that you can shoot a few variations of the same subject. You can compose horizontally (also called "landscape"), then turn your camera on it's side and shoot vertically (also called "portrait"). You'll get to take better digital pictures one way or the other. Just try both.

Try using diagonals when composing your pictures. I've given you a few sample photos with the use of diagonals as a photo composition tip on the Beginners Photography Page.

Experiment with several different photos of the same subject and you're sure to get a better digital photo. The photos below shows what a dramatic difference you get when you change perspective.

  1. In photo #1 above, I used the telephoto setting on my zoom lens. This is a narrow view and so very little background shows. This telephoto setting is what I usually use to take better photos when shooting portraits,
  2. I zoomed out to wide angle and moved my camera very close to keep the doll the same size in photo 2. This wide view includes many more distracting elements in the background.
  3. In photo 3, I lowered the camera and cropped in a little. The nurse doll looks much taller, doesn't she? You can get more in depth composition tips like these at Photo Composition Tips.

photo lighting

I am still learning lighting after 40 years of photography. There are few simple qualities of light that are very important to be aware of. Once you know them, you will be able to take better digital pictures.

Learn to notice the direction of the light. Is it coming from high up above your subject, or from behind or in front? Look at the shadows it is creating. Usually a strong overhead lighting is the least flattering when photographing people. 

Observe the intensity or the brightness of the light. Is it a big light source like a reflection from a nearby wall or building. Is it a harsh small, light like direct sunlight? Look at the photos below. All three photos are taken of the nurse doll in the exact same spot on my kitchen counter top.

use a few lighting tips to take better digital photos

Here's just two ways to improve your photography lighting.

Change Your Lighting to Take Better Digital Pictures
  1. In the first photo, I shot with two large windows behind my subject. This is very strong backlighting and the subject is too shadowed to make a great picture.
  2. I turned my flash on in photo 2. This is called "fill flash". It almost equalizes the light hitting the front of my subject with the light from behind.
  3. In photo 3, I moved to a 90 degree angle and turned the doll toward my new position. The result is a big, beautiful, soft, natural light source from those same windows. Much better photo!

best natural lightingEarly morning sunrise, Salem County, New Jersey

Taking better picture often means preparing and waiting for the best lighting. For this sunrise photo, I arose at 4:00 am on a very cold day, drove for 45 minutes, waited for about 30 minutes, and finally captured this great lighting which only lasted for a few minutes.


For a better understanding of lighting, go to Photo Lighting Tips.  For some information on different options in how to light your photography with accessories go to Photography Lighting Equipment.

photo exposure

Your camera does a great job handling exposure most of the time, although learning a little extra about photo exposure will take you a step closer to getting great digital photos. You can correct for under exposure or overexposure when it's not too severe, but it's much better to get the correct exposure the first time.

Most auto exposure digital cameras do a fairly good job, most of the time, at getting it right, but you're going to run into special situations.

Once you understand how a camera works and the relationship between the shutter speed, aperture and ISO, you 'll get great photo exposure every time.

  • Shutter Speed is how long the shutter is open to allow the light to enter the camera.
  • ISO is how sensitive the sensor is.
  • Aperture is the size of the opening that allow the light to enter the camera. Think of your own eyes and how your pupils open more when it's dark and how they close smaller when it's bright.

use the exposure triangle to take better exposed digital pictures

Use the Exposure triangle to understand a change in an exposure settingExposure Triangle

The exposure triangle illustration to the right shows the three camera settings that effect photo exposure.

For any given subject, if you change any one of the three settings, at least one of the other camera settings must change to keep the correct exposure. If your digital camera is set on an automatic setting, the change will be made for you.

For a more detailed explanation of this topic try this article titled Photo Exposure Tips. Learning the 3 components of photo composition, photo lighting and photo exposure will take you a long way to help you take better digital pictures. 

How to take sharper photos

The biggest source of disappointment for beginner photographers is blurry photos. This means that one of the simplest ways to take better photos is to improve your sharpness. Here are 3 simple tips for improving sharpness in your photos.

USE A TRIPOD. It will slow you down and force you to take a little more time making your photo. It will also eliminate blur caused by camera movements, one of the biggest rerasons for blurriness.

USE A HIGHER ISO SETTING. This will let your camera's auto exposure system use a faster shutter speed and freeze your subject and your camera.

LEARN BETTER FOCUSING. Whether you have a touch screen or use your camera's viewfinder, you do have control over what your lens focuses on. Read your camera manual section on focusing. It will make a world of difference for you.

My strengths in photography have always been toward the technical, numerical, geometric stuff. Photography is more of an art than a science.

You can improve your photography by getting some creative inspiration. Here is an alternative book that will interest you.

It is not a book on the technical side of photography.  It's  not a how to book for beginners.

It is more about a purposeful thought process behind making photographs. It's good book for developing your creativity, illustrated with a lot of sample photographs.

Have a blast learning how to take better photographs. It's an amazing time to be interested in photography.

Article published by Bruce Lovelace

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For a lighting lesson in photography go to Lighting in Photography

Go to Simple Ways to Improve your Photography Creativity