Photography tips

Shoot less, see more

Landscape and fine art photographer Paul Sanders says: "I would rather come home with one shot I have worked hard to perfect in the field than a memory card filled with mediocre images. Far too often we’re challenged by our insecurities to shoot more and more, when actually it’s better to take your time, refine the image in the viewfinder, carefully compose, and check everything before pressing the shutter button. It’s also a cop-out to say, 'I’ll fix it in post.' Get it right on-site and in the camera before you leave the location. You should choose the moment you press the button after really seeing into the subject. So once you commit to an image, don’t keep shooting unless the lighting dramatically improves. When you are happy, walk away and don’t look back!"

Set the AF point

If you let the camera choose the autofocus point automatically, it will often focus on the nearest object. Instead, set your camera to its singlepoint AF mode and move the active point so that it’s positioned over the subject that you want to be sharp

Use Auto ISO in Manual mode

Your camera’s Auto ISO function can be a life-saver, as you can freely adjust your exposure settings and the camera will automatically raise the ISO sensitivity at a preset shutter speed, so you don’t need to worry about camera shake. It can also be used in Manual exposure mode, allowing you to set your preferred combination of aperture and shutter speed, with the Auto ISO function ensuring you get a consistent exposure in changing light.

Shooting in the rain

Don’t be just a fair-weather photographer: rain’s where it’s at! The most challenging aspect of shooting in driving rain isn’t keeping yourself dry, it’s keeping raindrops off the front of the lens. The shallow hoods made for wideangle lenses are pretty useless in this regard. Our advice? Fit a UV filter and soak up any water just before you fire the shutter. It never hurts to pack more microfibre cloths than you think you’ll need, too.

Shooting in bright sunshine

Although the best light for shooting on a scorching summer day is typically at the start and end of the day – the so-called ’golden hours’ – a clear sky does have its advantages. There’ll be plenty of light, enabling the use of low ISOs and fast shutter speeds for sharp shots. Use a polarising filter to reduce glare and reflections in landscapes, and a reflector or burst of flash to open up the shadows in a portrait. Cold weather saps battery life, so to keep your camera working when the temperature drops, keep a spare charged battery warm in an inner jacket pocket. If you start to run out of power, consider not using power-hungry functions such as image stabilisation and Live View.

Take pictures you love

Doug Chinnery, Abstract Photographer, says: "The ‘Photography Police’ can only exist if we allow them to. No-one should tell you what your images should look like. "Make pictures that, first and foremost, you love. Then, if others love them too, so be it. But if they don’t, be proud that you are following your own creative path and not being forced to follow the herd. This takes creative courage and conviction, but leads to producing stronger, more fulfilling work."

Sharpness is over-rated

"Let a little blur into your life", says Doug Chinnery, Abstract Photographer. "Bring in a bit of wobble. Shallow depth of field and intentional camera movement can be used creatively, allowing your audience to make up their own stories about what’s happening in your images."

Print your own work

"Would you give your camera to someone else to make your photos? So why let someone else make your prints? The print is the culmination of the creative process, and nothing beats making a finely crafted print. No commercial printer cares about your images like you do. Don’t kid yourself that the prints they make are as good as they could be." – Doug Chinnery, Abstract Photographer

Develop your vision

Abstract photographer Doug Chinnery says: ”Copying the photographs of others is a great way to learn techniques as a beginner. But to really grow as a photographer, we need to look at the world through our own eyes and use the skills we have learned to make images that show our unique creative vision."

Ditch the tripod

Landscape photographer Andrew Fusek Peters says: “Go guerrilla with your landscape photography! Ditch the tripod and endless filters, and shoot hand-held, exposing for the sky at dusk or dawn. It’s much quicker to frame hand-held, and you can recover shadows and blacks in post.”