40 Essential Tips and Tricks for Taking Better Photos - Part1


In this article, we want to introduce the set of the best tips on photography with a digital camera. This will help you to remember the things you already knew and also learn about new recommendations. Now the quality of your photos will increase in the shortest time.

So, take advantage of your new knowledge about the usage of the settings of your digital camera to reach new heights. 


Tip 01: Always reset camera settings

Imagine a situation when suddenly you see an interesting picture and want to capture it. Press a shutter release button and get disappointed. As a shot, it was taken with the wrong ISO, etc. The moment is lost. You can avoid it if you check and reset the setting of your camera each time before you switch from one shooting to another. Choose settings according to conditions of the shooting.

Tip 02: Formatting

Format a memory card before the shooting. Preliminary formatting of a memory card will minimize the risks of any data damage.

Tip 03: Firmware upgrade

Camera's firmware is a software that allows to process images, adjust a wide range of parameters and control functions that are accessible for you. Go to the website of your camera's the manufacturer to learn about how to provide your camera with the latest software.

Tip 04: Charging a battery

You shouldn't blindly rely on a chance, hoping that a battery in your camera is fully charged. Charge it and make sure that it will have enough energy if you have planned a long photo session. And if you plan to shoot a lot, it's preferable for you to get an additional battery.

Tip 05:  Adjust the size of the image

In the majority of cases, a camera offers high resolution shooting on default and it doesn't matter what do you shoot. However, do you always require it? Sometimes a small image is enough. In fact, using a smaller resolution, you will be to able place more photos on your memory card and also increase the speed of the shooting. If you enjoy sports photography, then a small resolution will help you to avoid delays, when your camera is cleaning its temporary storage.

Beautiful woman posing in frame in studio shot

Tip 06: File format: RAW or JPEG?

If you are going to edit your taken shots, make retouching, then RAW format will suit better due to its increased resolution. However, RAW files are rather extensive, so you will require more time to post-process them. Moreover, you won't be able to print them without preliminary processing.

As for JPEG files, they are processed in the camera during the shooting, so you can print images or share them immediately. Moreover, you will find that you can take more consecutive shots much faster. For example, you don't plan to change images hugely after the shooting; then you may think that there is no difference in these two formats.

If the speed of the shooting doesn't play a great role for you, then it's difficult to choose. Why not use the both formats simultaneously? The majority of digital cameras provide such opportunity. And only when images will be on your computer you can choose the format. The most import is not to forget about the additional memory card.

Tip 07: Experiments with the parameters settings

When professional photographers are not busy with the targeted shooting, then they devote a lot of time to experiments. This could experiment with a lens to determine the best diaphragm or focal distance. And also ISO and white balance tests, to see what options provide the best results or even dynamic range test, to be aware of the possibilities of the sensor.

You can make the same with your camera, to know exactly its strong and weak sides. This is not a search of an ideal image, but an experiment with the equipment, to learn about its potential and try new methods, which will be useful during the future shooting.

Tip 08: Don't spare on a tripod

A good tripod – is worth its weight in gold, so don't spare on it. It's better to buy a high-quality tripod, which will serve you for a long time. It's a long-term investment. Don't forget to take it with you when you are going to take photos.

Tip 09: Camera in hands or on a tripod?

The fact of attaching your camera to a tripod could slow you down. Although this will help you to focus on the object of your shooting, while fixing your camera you can lose time and your images won't be spontaneous. We come to the conclusion that it is best to mix these two techniques, using them by turns. If you always use a tripod, try to take photos without it. Also, if you usually work without a tripod, take it with you to see the different results of the photo session.

Tip 10: Improvised support for a camera

To ensure the steadiness of the camera, you don't always need to use a tripod. Be creative. You can use a wall or a tree as a support or even a sack of rice as a platform. All of these will help to avoid camera's shake.

Tip 11: Aligning the horizon

The horizon line on the photo should look straight without any slopes. If your digital camera has digital horizon level, use it. This will help you to save your time when editing shots in Photoshop later.  Many reflex cameras have a grid that can be activated. It's overlaid on the actual image and is seen on the LCD screen of the camera. Use it as a guide. The horizon should match the horizon line of the grid. Moreover, use autofocus points in the center of the viewfinder, to do the same.

Reine in winter

Tip 12: Check your bag twice

This may seem evident, however, recheck a bag with your camera if you want to photograph far from home. It can contain a camera, lenses, a tripod and accessories to it. Don't forget to take a filter adapter ring, if you use lens filters, etc.  A forgotten small detail has more chances to disrupt your trip, than the main items of your kit.

Tip 13: AF or manual focus?

You shouldn't fully rely on your camera's autofocus. In some situation, manual focus will suit better. For example, to take a photo of a fast-moving object on a speedway or the detailed focus during macro photography.

Tip 14: How to use AF points?

Digital reflex cameras can have a huge amount of autofocus points. However, for the majority of shots, you need only one - the central.  Place it behind the object, press a shutter release button halfway to fix a focus, then just change the composition of the shot.

Tip 15: A new lens

A bad lens will always be a bad one, regardless of what camera you will install it on. So before you decide to change your camera, believing that you have grown out of it, think about buying a new lens. This can become a right decision. Several extra pixels and smart settings of a new camera can seem an attractive perspective. However, most likely what you need is just a maximum aperture and lens of the higher quality, to increase the quality of the shots with the help of the camera you already have.

Tip 16: Manual focus lens

Since the days of the 35-mm film remained thousands of lenses. A lot of digital reflex cameras have a “backward compatibility” with them (in particular Nixon and Pentax). All of them can be used in our time of digital technologies. Moreover, they have the so affordable price, which provides a splendid opportunity to expand your set of tools. However, there are some minuses. Some lenses work better than the others, and the only way to select the best ones is to try them. All in all, zoom lenses and also a wide-angle lens, as a rule, perform worse. Moreover, there is a necessity in manual focus. Exposition measurement in the camera can be unpredictable and unreliable. However, several manual focus lenses really can overcome modern inexpensive zoom lenses in the terms of sharpness. 

Tip 17: Focal length

Wide-angle lenses can create an impression of the increased distance between the near and far elements and a telephoto lens visually brings an object nearer, compresses perspective. Use focal length according to the situation. Consider the distance of the object of photography.

Moraine lake

Tip 18: Using hyperfocal distance

If you want to increase the depth of field in the shot with a predetermined focal length, then set the manual focus in camera on hyperfocal distance. So you provide the maximum sharpness of the image from the half of the focal length to infinity.

Tip 19: Check the edges of the shot

Most viewfinders do not provide you with a 100% coverage, so unwanted elements easily fall into a shot. The only way to avoid this is simply to check the camera's LCD screen after a test shot. If there is nothing undesirable in the shot, change the composition and take pictures again.

Tip 20: Photograph more

Even while shooting static subjects use a burst shooting mode. You can catch slight changes in lighting, for example, when shooting a landscape with moving clouds. Or when taking a portrait photography, you can capture the changes in facial expression. These are examples of the shooting where some "great moments" happen that can be lost if you take a single shot. So photograph a lot and then choose the best shots.

In my next article, I will share with you more 20 tips. Enjoy!