Date:26 September 2012
20 Ways to take a better photo
Square-one advice:  Get to know your camera. Spending time with the user manual won’t kill you. Some cameras even display tips on-screen while you’re shooting, as pop-ups or in help menus. Use the advice; you’ll be glad that you did. Keep it clean. Smudges, specks of dirt and other nasties ruin a shot. Stash your camera in a case; buff the lens with a microfibre cloth.
Balanced, centred, gaze-into-the-lens portraits are boring.  Have the subject look off-frame, and  use the rule of thirds: Imagine a noughts-and-crosses grid within your camera frame and set your subject at one of the intersections. In a head-and-shoulders shot, align the subject’s eyes with the top horizontal line of the (imaginary) grid.
 Get up-close and personal. Capture one part of the body – eye, mouth, bare shoulder – because details can be telling. You don’t need a zoom for this. In fact, we recommend that you  use a prime lens, which has a fixed focal length. With this type of lens, you zoom with your feet (step back or forward) to compose your shot within the frame. A prime lens also often has a low F-stop rating, which lets you  achieve a shallow depth of field. Dial down the F-stop and pull your subject into focus, and the background will blur, creating visual separation. Also regarding backgrounds:  avoid clutter. A neutral backdrop keeps the emphasis on the subject.  Place your subject in an unusual setting. Shots that take people out of their comfort zone yield unexpected reactions. But don’t go nuts: asking your nephew to pose next to the lion is not okay.
On overcast days or in the shade,  use your flash as a fill light to illuminate faces. Also,  get a hot-shoe bounce flash if your camera supports it. A bounce flash lets you manipulate light by reflecting it off a ceiling or other bright surface. With a basic point-and-shoot camera,  use a sheet of white paper to direct or diffuse light from a lamp or other source. Speaking of light,  avoid having your subject look into bright sunlight, unless you like squinty eyes and ugly shadows. If you must shoot in a sunny setting,  let the light fall at an angle across the person’s face. But if you can wait,  shoot just after sunrise or before sunset, when the light is softer and the colours warmer.
When snapping pics of kids or pets,  take a knee. Their cute mugs look even better when captured at their own height. Of course, you may also  shoot high or low: odd angles add drama.
 Take your camera everywhere as the best photos aren’t planned. And always  Carry extra batteries and memory cards. Having a camera with you that can’t do the job is worse than having no camera at all. Now that you’re fully equipped,  shoot multiple shots at a time. The second or third shot – or the fi fth one – when your subject begins to relax, can be the best one.