Brief summary

of the main points to be learnt from photos that have been sent me:

Hints and tips
from Philip Grosset

The most common mistake of all is not to come in close enough. Select the most interesting part of the scene, then come in really close. This way you can place the emphasis where you want it, and exclude all that is irrelevant or distracting.

Above left: The problem with this photo is that the photographer has not really decided whether he wants to photograph the flowers or the garden behind them. If the main point of interest was meant to be the lilies, it would have been better to have cropped the picture (top right).
Belvedere palace, Vienna
The best place for your subject is not usually right in the middle of the picture. And it is not a good idea to position the skyline exactly halfway up the picture, as in this photo of the Belvedere Palace, Vienna.
Belvedere Palace, Vienna
This makes a much more attractive composition. The daffodils provide strong foreground interest and lead the eye into the picture, up to the man taking the photo, then on to the palace. Irrelevancies such as the extreme edges of the scene and the people partially blocking the view in the middle of the picture have been removed. The moral: spend some time searching out the best position.
Intersection of thirdsLandscapes always need careful composition. Here I have marked in the so-called intersection of thirds. Notice how the church tower and the main boat have both been positioned where these lines cross. Using at least one of these intersections is often a good idea. Failing that, try positioning your main subject (or, for example, the horizon) along one of these lines. This illustration comes from my Landscapes page.
With landscape pictures, always try to include some foreground framing, even if it is only a hedge, as in Vic Gregorini's photo on the left, as this gives a feeling of depth. Overhanging leaves too are often used to provide effective foreground framing, or, if possible, try to include some interesting foreground object that is really typical of the scene, such as the daffodils in the Belvedere Palace picture above.

There's more about this on my Travel Photos pages.

Lake and mountain
Here's an unusual example of interesting (if slightly overwhelming) foreground framing. The engine driver is leaning out of his cab and yelling at the photographer to get out of the way! Photo of Corfe Castle in Dorset by Tim Grosset.
Try to photograph children (and other people) from slightly below. The result is not only more flattering, but we can see the subject's face much more clearly. Notice again the advantage of getting in really close. This excellent picture was sent me by Jenny Irvin. It's always a good idea to have one main point of interest, as here, then to concentrate our attention on that.
When taking a side view portrait, as here, always allow more space in front of the eyes (as on the right), or it looks as though the subject is falling out of the picture (as on the left).
Try to avoid using flash whenever possible as can result in bright foreground objects but a dark background in which all detail is lost.
If you want to show the interior of a large building, as seen here, switch the flash off and prop the camera on some convenient support.
This is the roof of Slip 3, where ships used to be built, in the Royal Naval Dockyard at Chatham in Kent. If you'd used flash, you'd have lit just the immediate foreground.
So, to sum up the four main points:

1. Get in really close.
2. Do not always position your subject right in the middle of the picture.
3. Switch off the flash whenever possible.
4. Use foreground framing when you get the chance.

You'll be surprised at the difference it makes!

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