With the rise of Point and Shoot digital cameras being affordable for many and even the more serious pieces of kit being within most photo buff's budgets lots of photographers need to know it's not just about the hardware your using but how you use it!
You can help an image have a sense of direction by using lines to help the image flow, it can show direction and can help the onlooker of the image understand and navigate the image better.
The directions of the lines of an image can also help to invoke emotion within the onlooker and cause the image to trigger feelings.
Slanting lines can also imply movement, action or change. Repetitive elements create a sense of rhythm, which is often more interesting if the rhythm is broken by a missed element.
The rule of thirds helps you create more interesting compositions. Imagine two horizontal and two vertical lines equally dividing your shot, then place subjects on the lines or where they intersect with each other.
Place your horizon on the top or bottom line to add emphasis to the ground or to the sky respectively.
The human eye is drawn to elements that are in focus, this will influence how your photo is seen by onlookers, auto-focus will focus on what is in the centre of the frame; Use pre-focus to move your subject away from the centre of the frame.
Use your zoom lens to reduce the 'depth of field' (sense of depth) and throw the background out of focus. This will emphasise any in-focus element in the foreground.
Zooming out allows you to capture more of the view, A wide-angle lens will keep everything in focus while helping to maximise the 'depth of field', or feeling of depth in your shots. Zooming-in will flatten the sense of perspective and make distant objects appear closer together. Be careful to avoid camera shake when zoomed right in, as tiny movements in your hands become magnified.
If you are standing between your light source (for example the sun) and your subject then details could be lost in the shadows.
Standing between your light source and your subject can create some interesting visual effects, but it is tricky to get right – take the time to practice these shots before using them in the spur of the moment. Lighting from the side produces more interesting shapes and structures.
The best times for side lighting are at the beginning and end of the day.
Natural light is white, while artificial light is often shades of yellow, orange or green. Our eyes naturally adjust to yellow light sources to make them appear white.
Earlier and later in the day, natural light tends to be more orange.
Balance the flash with the best light for ideal results. If your camera has a setting to do this for you, it is probably 'slow flash' or 'synchro flash'.
Use your camera's red-eye reduction setting (if it has one) when taking flash photographs of people and avoid red-eye by turning up or providing more light in the room.
Aiming the flash directly at your subject can result in harsh lighting. Try to bounce the flash off a reflective or white surface, such as the ceiling, to produce a softer light.
Lighting for Time of Day
At dawn and dusk there are natural shadows to help give depth and form to your subject.
For night time and early evening shots, you will need to allow for slower shutter speeds. (Shutter speed is the length of time the camera requires to absorb enough light for the required shot.) The slower the shutter speed, the more likely your photographs will be blurry due to camera shake, so use a tripod to keep the camera steady.
Don't be afraid to point the lens at a setting sun, but whatever you do avoid looking directly at the sun, especially through the viewfinder of your camera.
Take lots of pictures – with digitals they don't cost you anything.
Move around as you photograph to experiment and give yourself plenty of choice.
Stay alert for that chance-of-a-lifetime shot.