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5 Ways to Improve Your Photography

If you are keen to improve your photography, seek out opportunities to practise. Have your camera with you as much as you can. And ask others for tips.
Here are 5 to help you improve your photos now.

1. Take time to learn
It takes time to reflect on and research new information and techniques. Don't skip this essential part of your growth as a photographer. What makes a great picture? Study other photographers who are successful in your field. Think about why they chose their subject, what inspired them and why they took the photo that way. It's not about copying other photographers, rather, learn from them. And carry that expertise over into your own style and thought process.
2. Study light
The quality of light on your subject and it's direction has a huge effect on your picture. Things to consider carefully are the colour of the light, the amount of light available, how harsh or soft it is, and where it's coming from.
Colour: Warm light (producing golden tones) occurs naturally just after sunrise and just before sunset. But you modify the colour or temperature of the light by adjusting your camera's white balance setting to suit your desired look. You can make light look cold (bluer) using theses settings, or you can shoot in the shade, at midday, or in the hour preceding sunrise and following sunset.
Harsh vs Soft: Harsh light creates strong shadows. Natural light is most harsh in the middle of the day. When shooting in harsh light, try and use the shadows to your advantage, make them part of you picture to add interest. Soft (or diffused) light creates soft shadows which is usually preferred for portraits and most other types of photography. It is usually created by reflecting light from a large, light coloured surface. Easy reflectors are walls, concrete, a flash bounced onto a white ceiling for example. Or you can place a large semi-transparent material between the light and your subject. The sunlight is naturally diffused or softened on a slightly cloudy day, where the sun shines through a thin layer of cloud.

3. Use your histogram
The histogram on your camera looks like a graph with peaks and valleys and is used to make precise exposures. It displays the distribution of light in your exposure. If there is a gap to the left of the histogram and the graph moves to the right, your image is over-exposed. If your image is under-exposed, the graph looks the opposite. You can change your exposure before you shoot by studying the histogram in your viewfinder or on your camera's LCD to adjust your exposure correctly.

4. Give your subject room to move
Make good use of space around your subject. How much of the surroundings do you want in your picture? If they add to the image in an interesting way, give your story context or add to the emotion you are wanting to evoke in the viewer, they should be included. Include less of the surroundings if you want your subject to dominate the image, but take care not to make the image look 'cramped' if your subject lacks space to move into the picture. The viewer naturally looks into the area that the subject is looking or moving into. To keep your shot looking balanced, leave more space ahead rather than behind your subject.

5. Have a really good look at your work
A great way to improve your photography skills is to critically analyze your work. This doesn't mean looking at your photos and deciding why you don't like them. It's better to look carefully at your photos, especially your favourites. What it is about the photo that makes it pleasing to look at? What would you do differently if you could shoot it again? Have other people give you feedback on your work. It can be a bit intimidating to put your photos out there for critique, but having an extra set of eyes on your photos will help you hone your skills.

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