Top 10 photography tips

No matter what you’re shooting, these tips will ensure your best ever photos. Here’s our top 10 shooting tips of all time…

1. Composition rules

When you’re setting up your shot think about the rule of thirds, and try to place your horizon on the top or bottom third line, and not through the middle. Look for leading lines to guide the eye, like fences, tree lines or meandering rivers. Place points of interest like castles or dominating trees on the third cross sectors. Don’t be afraid to move with your feet, not just your lens, to get the right composition.

2. Keep it straight

There’s nothing worse in landscapes than a scewed horizon. Invest in a spirit level or buy a camera with a level displayed onto the LCD or in the viewfinder.

photography tips

3. Light is everything

Think about the time of day you shoot. Midday sun can be fine for valleys or seascapes, but often landscapes look their best in the golden hours of sunset and sunrise. Try shooting the same location at a few different times of day.

4. Filter fun

Filters can transform your image from good to great. Invest in an ND Grad filter to darken skies and bring out cloud detail, and a polariser to enhance blues and greens. Continue reading

Shooting in low light

It’s tempting to think that once the sun has gone down, it’s time pack up your camera and go home – but you couldn’t be more wrong. Sunset itself is a formidable technical challenge with extremes of lighting contrast, but once the fiery globe has disappeared, the lighting becomes much more manageable. The best time to shoot low-light images is the hour after sunset, when there is either reflected sunlight in the clouds, or the sky still retains a blue colour. Once it gets black, then only firework displays or concerts are really worth persevering with.

The real attraction of low-light photography is that it largely doesn’t matter if it’s been cloudy all day.

After sunset, clouds take on a blue colour, and if there is artificial light in the scene, and you focus on that, then the camera’s auto white balance will actually enhance the blue colour.

Shooting in low light

In this feature, we’ll be explaining the best methods for photographing everything from seascapes to fireworks, showing what camera settings you need to use and explaining the problems that you’re likely to encounter, as well as how to overcome them to capture great images.

Master your camera settings and take control of your photography

The success of your low-light photography depends largely on good preparation and knowledge of your kit. We’ve always stuck by the philosophy that it’s the photographer, not the camera, that makes the picture. However, there are some models that do perform better than others after the sun’s gone down. Compact digital camera sensors are improving all the time. However, the low-light performance of some models can leave a lot to be desired. Manufacturers have a battle on their hands, insofar as compact sensors are tiny. This means that the number and size of the pixels they can pack onto them is limited, and, while by day image quality may be good, areas like noise performance can suffer as night falls.

DSLRs have larger sensors, and generally offer a greater range of ISO sensitivities to work with. They also offer greater control over settings and have interchangeable lenses, so the photographer can take advantage of the highest quality, fastest lenses that can gather far more light than the average fixed lens on a compact, making them ideal for low-light shooting. Continue reading

How photos can engage your readers

While a written blog certainly relies heavily on well-written and nutritious content in order to keep its readers coming back regularly, they also benefit greatly from the inclusion of a few great images. Confront your readers with a sea of words and you’re guaranteed that plenty of them will be overwhelmed and skip to the next page or out of your blog altogether. A healthy sprinkling of images courtesy of even the most basic of digital cameras will break up that text and can even complement the content really constructively, grabbing your readers by the shoulders and urging them to read on.

Visual learning

Ever heard the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words? Well, it’s actually true, because studies have shown that 60 per cent of your readers learn and retain information more effectively using image as opposed to text. A picture just makes us sit up and helps us remember a story.


Metaphorically speaking…

You can describe a comparison you’ve made as much as you like in the hope that your readers will know what you’re talking about, but a photo will instantly paint the picture that lots and lots of words might not otherwise be able to.

So if, for example, you’re talking about the power of something (a business, a car, whatever), then you could choose a photograph of a big cat, perhaps. Similarly, if you’re talking about, say, government cutbacks and austerity measures, a big, shiny red axe would do nicely.

A good photo is magnetic

Your photo can either be straightforward or it can be cryptic. A straightforward picture will compel the reader to continue reading about the interesting topic they’ve just spotted, and a cryptic picture will play on the reader’s curios side (we all have one), again compelling the reader to find out more.

For example, perhaps you’re going to cover the latest celebrity scandal – a good picture summarising what the article is about (e.g. a post about an affair would benefit from a photo of the cheating couple in question) will work wonders. If your article is about something a little more photographically inexplicable, then focus on a more abstract focal point of the article. You could even choose a photo that’s saying exactly the same thing as your title (i.e. taking it very literally). Continue reading

Lowlight Landscapes

What You’ll need

Sunrise and sunset times – knowing these are crucial as the best photographic opportunities are ½ hour either side of the set or rise.

Tripod – Long exposure times means a tripod is a must. Manfrotto make good tripods for outdoor photography.

Camera – This type of photography is easier with a DSLR however some compact models have manual controls.

Torch – This will come in handy once the sun has set!

Skills you’ll learn

Composition – how to frame a landscape image.

Exposure – how to open your camera for long periods of time

Location – The best time and locations for lowlight photography.

Lowlight landscape photography can produce some of the most visually stunning images full of colour and atmosphere. This tutorial will be closely guiding you through the shapes and tones of the landscape and teaching you how to capture the best images using the dramatic and minimal light produced by mother nature.

Lowlight landscape photography

Images can be taken any time of the year however the Autumn is one of the best seasons to be shooting as the colours in the land are spectacular and the time of sunrise is not at stupid o’clock as it is in the Summer months! The bad thing about Autumn is the weather can be unpredictable, so make sure you take sensible clothing on a shoot. Remember dramatic rain clouds can produce fantastic images so don’t be put off if it looks like it is going to rain. A large umbrella to protect your camera and gear may come in handy and a lens cloth is always a good accessory to have to hand. Also remember your tripod, as a long shutter speed will be needed to shoot in these conditions.

There are many locations that will work for this type of photography. For this tutorial we selected a forest and a seaside location however the same rules applies in other settings. For the beginner photographer there will always be a lot of trail and error in landscape photography so it is best to practice somewhere that is close to home and easily locatable to build skills. Continue reading

Celebration photography

This article will show you how to take inspirational party images.

What you’ll need

Camera – DSLR or compact.
Manual controls are useful however not fully necessary.
Light source. Whether you are using flash, natural light or dealing with sunlight learn some simple techniques.
Tripod. For lowlight light photography and light trails a tripod is an essential item.

Skills you’ll learn

Portrait tips for formal and informal celebrations and learning how to deal with the pressure
Long shutter speeds using some form of light source.
General photography portrait and lighting tips
Celebrating special moments in life for many of us becomes the perfect opportunity to get out the camera and take those all-important images, which will remain on the mantelpiece for years to come.

Weddings, birthdays, graduations and parties are just a few occasions to list where the camera is sure to make an appearance. Unfortunately while many of us have good intentions of taking some great images sometimes it can be extremely difficult to be in the right place at the right time, or know what settings to place the camera on.

If this sounds like a familiar predicament you often find yourself in, fear not as this is where DCE comes to the rescue.

Celebration photography

By following this simple celebrations photography guide whether it be photographing a formal occasion or just wanting to capture some natural looking portraits at a birthday party, this informative tutorial takes you though a through step by step guide so you can capture the best celebratory images of friends and family.

Learn to capture the moment, people and surrounding objects and atmosphere of any celebratory moment and remember those special moments for a lifetime.

Formal celebrations: For those once in a lifetime moments make sure you are fully prepared

Weddings, graduations, and some formal occasions are all key lifetime moments to remember so it is very important to be prepared with your camera and accessories.

While a good position and taking lots of images is essential to achieving great results it is not worth ruining some bodies day to get it. Giving good direction to your subject matter is important however try not to bark orders, as your attitude will be reflected in your image. A relaxed, organised and friendly photographer always produces the best results.

Group images can be hard to organise so unless you are the photographer in charge needing to get all the shots stick to photographing small groups of 3-4 people. Continue reading

Samsung MV800 Review

There’s no doubt about it, Samsung’s sleek new camera oozes sophistication. Its slim, high-quality build is minimalist yet striking with its flip-out LCD screen. Clearly its standout feature, this unique three-inch screen is fantastic for low or high-angle shots and self-portraits, as well as acting as its own stand for displaying photos in a slide show. Because of its touch-screen controls, on the body we are just left with a Play and a ‘Home’ button to access the menu. With an external zoom dial built around the shutter release button, it has just the right balance of touch screen versus physical control. The touch controls themselves, including touch shooting if activated, are responsive and user-friendly.

Samsung MV800

Underneath the excellent exterior is a camera packed full of fantastic features. As well as Smart Auto, Program and a variety of shooting modes such as Close-up and Night Shot, the MV800 comes with a large range of extras such as 3D Photo and Live Panorama. Intelligent Portrait is a great feature that will take a shot and automatically give you two alternative crops. During our testing the camera sometimes had trouble detecting faces in order to complete these crops, however.

Notably absent is a dedicated sports mode, but there are some clever editing options, such as in-camera cropping, saturation and contrast tweaks, as well as effects filters. All of these will suit beginners but there are more advanced features that let you take more control. While there’s no Manual mode, you can select your own ISO, white balance, focus area and metering system, tweak the exposure value and control the flash.

The images on screen are bright and sharp, and the final printed results are fantastic. For all it comes packed with, the MV800 is a great value compact that will get you taking photos from creative angles and achieving amazing effects. A triumph of compact camera design.

Samsung MV800

Samsung NX200 Review

The Samsung NX200 is compact and fits neatly into the palm of your hand. The outer casing is smooth, apart from the textured panel that wraps around the right-hand side of the body for the hand to comfortably grip, so it will suit those who are always on the go.

The menu system is intuitive and all shortcuts and controls are where you’d expect to find them. Even if you’ve never used a Samsung model before you won’t have any trouble working the NX200. A handy Fn button has been placed on the back panel just above the dial control, and this shortcut makes it easy to alter most settings. From the Fn you can quickly access the exposure, white balance, ISO, metering options and focusing options to name just a few.

Samsung NX200 Review

The NX200 has something to offer every type of photographer. The HD movie mode records clean-looking videos, while the high-speed shooting mode is excellent for sports or action photography. The camera can handle firing off images at 7fps at full resolution, but if you’re shooting in RAW then expect it to be a little slower.

The NX200 can shoot manual, part manual or under a full auto setup. The Smart Auto setting will appeal to beginners, but it’s worth noting that in this mode the camera can only shoot JPEGs. The camera also includes creative filters, which are capable of producing effects like Old Film and Vignette. These are perfect for those who don’t want to spend hours in post-production.

Images produced by the NX200 are of a high quality, and one of the camera’s best features is its large ISO range, which extends to 12800. The NX200 impressively holds the detail in the images until ISO 1600.

The Samsung NX200 is a great camera and the technology packed into the compact body is incredible. Even the full retail price of £700 is very reasonable and it’s well worth the investment.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150

The Panasonic FZ150 is the latest Lumix camera that could be considered a superzoom. It boasts some impressive features, many of which you’d expect to find on CSCs and beginner DSLRs.

These include a wealth of full manual options, and although they aren’t as intuitive as a DSLR’s, once you’re used to the camera they are very simple to adjust. If you still aren’t confident with the more advanced functions, there are plenty of automatic scene modes to use, as well as a selection of creative art modes that each overlay a different filter onto your photo.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150

Another key selling point is the FZ150’s ability to record video at full HD resolution. There is a dedicated record button placed next to the shutter release, making it quick to jump straight into video recording mode.

The three-inch LCD can be flipped and rotated to help when shooting at awkward angles. However, the FZ150 comes with an electronic viewfinder that enables you to hold the camera still when taking advantage of the great 12 frames per second maximum shooting speed.

One of the FZ150’s party tricks that we particularly love is its close focusing ability, which Panasonic

claims can focus on subjects as close as one centimetre away. However, we were hitting the subject on the edge of the lens barrel and still getting focus. It’s a truly impressive feature that makes macro photography a joy with this camera.

Images taken with the FZ150 are very good, with drops in quality only noticeable when using high ISOs, which is what you would expect from a camera with this size of sensor. The creative filters produce excellent photos that will help beginners add a new dimension to their photography without the need for a PC, making the FZ150 an excellent choice for anyone looking to develop their artistic and shooting skills at the same time.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150

Fujifilm Finepix S1600 Review

If there were ever a company to change the face of bridge cameras, Fujifilm would be a top contender. As it stands, size is the underlying factor when it comes to squeezing in as many of the high-demand features that we’ve come to expect. In the company’s latest line-up, the S-series, size is something to admire. Even the credentials of this lower-end model in the series, the S1600, are close to outstanding for a bridge camera of its price.

The S1600’s optics comprise of a 15x optical zoom with a wide-angle (28-420mm) focal length. The dynamics of such a wide to telephoto lens can play to a camera’s disadvantage in terms of image quality, but Fujifilm hasn’t fallen at this hurdle. Images show a wide dynamic range for coping with high-contrast scenarios, and the wide-angle lens makes it handy for capturing the vastness of a landscape. Another appealing feature of the S1600 is the variety of options on its Mode dial, including Aperture and Shutter Priority modes and also a DSLR favourite – a custom option.

Fujifilm Finepix S1600

In any given Manual mode, the camera has multiple options for allowing you to take control of the exposure. For example, you can make changes to exposure metering, white balance, focusing areas and also to the sharpness of your image in three varying degrees. The Mode dial also features a dedicated Panorama Shooting mode, where you’re asked to take three separate shots, and lining up a ‘ghost’ image of the previous one, the camera then processes the three images. The least conspicuous areas are joined together to create an almost spotless result.

The S1600 is so small that without its four AA batteries, it’s featherlight. It’s built to a high standard, too. The Mode dial noticeably clicks and slots into position on each turn. The exterior buttons can’t be pressed by mistake if you glide a finger over them. The pop-up flash is controlled by hitting its dedicated ‘open’ button on the side. The On/Off button is a sliding switch that works with a flick on a finger and, lastly, the electronic viewfinder (EVF) has a rubber edge for extra comfort. This is a real bonus if you find yourself battling with bright sunlight from behind, or are looking for more support by holding the camera to your eye using the EVF. Continue reading