Setting the scene

Hints and tips from Philip Grosset

Look at the photo on the left. What is it that the photographer is trying to show us? We can't tell because there is no obvious centre of interest. The result is confusing.
Here the photographer has drawn attention to the part of the scene that interests him most (the snow covered statue of Oliver Cromwell and the church behind it). It makes a much better photograph.

The old bridge at St Ives in Cambridgeshire. When taking scenic shots, it's particularly important to explore the area to find the best possible view. The clouds and trees here fill in what would otherwise have been a very empty area - and the picture has been composed so that there are no discordant colours or warning signs to spoil the effect.

In places like Venice, there's not much point in just taking the obvious views, as you'd be better off buying a picture postcard that was probably taken in ideal conditions. The challenge is to search out less obvious pictures, like this one, taken near the Rialto Bridge.

Darkening sky landscape
East Anglian riverside. Light and colour are most significant elements in any photograph. To catch picturesque scenes like this, a camera phone, that you always carry, may enable you to catch the right moment. It's no good returning the next day, and hoping it will look just the same!

Girl sharper
Girl on swing
Another example of needing to catch your subject at just the right moment. Side views of moving objects (like the girl on the left) may not come out sharp. The solution is to catch her at the end of her swing when she is hardly moving, as on the right. This technique can be useful for sports photography too.
Alternatively, you could try panning the camera with her so that she comes out sharp against a blurred background (but this needs a lot of practice) or alter the camera angle so that she is moving directly (or even diagonally) towards you.
There will be some delay between when you press the camera button and when the picture is actually taken, so you'll have to practise allowing for this!

The background here is much sharper than the foreground. This can happen with an automatic camera that only focuses on the centre of the picture.
The solution, with most such cameras, is to swing round the camera so that the most important foreground object is behind the focus spot in the centre of the viewfinder, semi-depress the camera button to lock the focus there, then swing back to compose the picture as required before fully depressing the button.

Watch out for focusing problems when photographing two people in close up, as it's very easy to let an automatic camera focus on the background between them.

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