6 Easy Tips to Improve Your Outdoor Photography

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Introduction: 6 Easy Tips to Improve Your Outdoor Photography

Sure, you can spend many hours experimenting with f-stops, shutter speeds, filters, post-processing, and HDR... but most of the time these quick-and-easy tips are all it takes to make your outdoor photographs more appealing.

Step 1: Move Your Subject Off-center

You've all heard this one before... but it's the most effective photography tip out there. Focus on your subject, as usual, but before you click the shutter, pivot your camera just enough to put the subject off-center. For some reason, this adds energy and vitality to your picture.

Tip: make your pivot in a way that suggests movement towards the center of the pic. It gives a kinetic energy to the picture, as if your subject is about to move into that open part of the scene. The 3rd and 4th photos above are examples of this.

Step 2: Include a Foreground Subject

Consider the first picture above. It's of Mount Shuksan in Washington State. Beautiful, yes... but a boring picture. There are a thousand others just like it, on postcards and calendars.

Include a foreground subject, and you'll add scale, depth, and interest to your pictures.

I like people shots, so even if I'm viewing an incredible landscape, I try to get people into the frame. You could also select an interesting rock or tree in the foreground. Either way, it makes your picture unique and separates it from all the postcard shots that are just "too perfect."

Step 3: Seek Out the Action

A still picture is, of course, inanimate... but that doesn't mean your pic can't suggest motion. Be alert for those opportunities to capture action.

It doesn't have to be intense; even subtle, everyday movements add dynamism to your pics.

Step 4: Vary Your Viewing Angle

A ho-hum shot can be elevated to an "oh, that's cool" shot just by choosing an unusual angle. I'd wager that 99% of pictures are taken with the lens at the photographer's standing eyeball level... just because it's comfortable.

Make your pic stand out by sprawling on the ground or finding other suitable positions. This is effective with shots of flowers, too -- everybody's seen flowers from eye level, but not so often from ground level.

Step 5: Take a LOT of Photos

In this age of digital photography, there is no reason not to take a lot of photos. Carry a fully-charged battery or two, and lots of room on your memory card, and fire away.

Step 6: ... But Only Show a FEW Photos

Some photo albums (physical, or online) go on and on for dozens of shots. Don't be that person.

Filter your pix ruthlessly. Only show the very best. If two great shots are essentially similar, ditch one of them.

A good photo album is like a good sermon: a good beginning, a good ending, and very little distance between the two.

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    52 Discussions

    I have to agree with all of these suggestions. They can turn you from a good photographer to a great photographer. Good job.

    1 reply
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    GaleW1

    2 years ago

    All great suggestions, I might add one, if your album is about a trip or vacation, order your pictures so they can go alone with your story.

    Great tips! Also, avoid mid-day light! Try to shoot in early morning or evenings...richer light. Thanx for your contribution!

    1 reply

    That's a great tip. Those "golden hours" at daybreak or early evening, when the sun is low, add a lot of depth to a shot -- for portraits and candids as well as scenery shots.

    Great tips, the sort of stuff it takes years to figure out on one's own. Step one is a concept called the rule of thirds, which I've found particularly useful.

    1 reply

    Thank you. Yes, the rule of thirds is a good guideline. Although I don't often use this feature, some cameras have an option to show a 3x3 grid in the viewfinder, as a reminder to position the subject at one of the grid crosspoints. A handy reminder!

    Wow. Thank you for these. After reading a couple of times, it all makes sense. But how do you weed through and delete the bulk of them?

    1 reply

    Thank you so much.
    As far as weeding and deleting -- it gets easier with time. I find it helps to set yourself a limit. For example, I have a "policy" of keeping my Facebook photo albums to ten or fewer photos. In reviewing my shots, I might filter it down to 25 or so, and then I pick the absolute 10 best from those. Those might be shots that turned out really well, or they might be ones where I caught a really good expression on one of my daughters, but for whatever reasons those are the ten that give me the biggest emotional response.

    The payoff? Way more people will open and view your album if it only contains a few pictures. People will take a pass on it if your album has, say, 40 pictures in it. So... that's your reward for the ruthless culling!!

    These are some good,and what should be common sense tips,but are a lot of the time overlooked,for those interested there are some other good free stuff,if you google Light Stalking,or Picture Correct.Thanks for bringing these up,they are important parts of taking nice photos.

    1 reply

    Thank you so much! Those both look like excellent photography sites... I just followed them both on Facebook.