Our Photography Courses Blog - Photography Tips and Techniques

How to improve your photo taking skills with your mobile

Posted in Photography Tips and Techniques on May 9th, 2014 by Phil – Comments Off

Sometimes it can be difficult to get a good quality photo using your mobile phone. What many people don’t know is that you can easily improve your photography skills by taking into consideration some small tips and tricks that can enable anyone to take a professional looking photograph on their mobiles.

Lighting is one of the most important aspects to photography. Bad lighting can ruin even the best of pictures so make sure that the subject of your photo is well lit. While snapping photos indoors make sure that the source of light isn’t behind your object as this will darken the image. Keep a steady hand, find a place where the lighting looks the best and snap away.


Image from webdesignledger.com







Image from digitalphotographylive.com

Composition techniques can really improve a photography. The rule of thirds is a good example to follow and many phones will even place a visible grid on your screen so that you can see exactly how your image looks with the rule of thirds in clear view. The rule of thirds proposes that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. Important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections. This should create more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centring the subject would.
Remember that the eye is drawn in by many things including lines. Find out what you want your point of interest to be and make sure that it stands out in your image. If for example, you take a still life photograph and you place the object in front of a chaotic background, this means that attention is taken away from your object and it is no longer the main point of interest in your image, so keep this in mind while taking your photos.
Now that you have a better idea of how to take better quality photographs, what are you going to do with them? There are many creative options out there and ways in which you can use and display your photos that are both original and creative, here are some of the best ways to use your photos.

Custom Wallpaper
You can use your own photographs and turn them into printed wall murals using sites that offer this service, such as Photowall. For example, imagine what an amazing picture from your summer holidays would look like in you leaving room. A well taken picture could remind you these summer holidays for the years to come.


Image from Photowall.com

Mugs and T-Shirts
Personalized mugs and t-shirts are fantastic ways to use your best photos. You can give them away as gifts or keep them for yourself. By having your photo printed on a mug or t-shirt you can be sure that it will be unique as nobody else will ever have anything like it. Be proud of your photographs and display them how they deserve to be displayed!


Image from fotostation.co.uk

Top tip for archiving your material, from our tutor Iain Brown in Scotland

Posted in Photography Tips and Techniques on May 1st, 2014 by Phil – Comments Off

Our lovely tutor Iain writes a regular column on photography for the Ayrshire Post, and very useful it is too – here’s his tips for archiving pictures from slides – not something we would have thought of:

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that a photographic Armageddon is upon us, at a time when we’ve never taken so many pictures, allegedly, 3.5 trillion in the past 200 years as some math geek has worked out.  We have to ask the question where are they?  At a guess they’re in shoe boxes, old albums, in our phones and littering our computer hard drive.  What is it with human beings and shoe boxes?  If it’s precious, stick it a shoebox!  I’m convinced that in the future when we’ve trashed our little planet, the only thing that the aliens will find to work us out, will be shoeboxes stuffed full of pictures and cheap costume jewellery.

Right I’ll cut to the chase, photographic prints fade, don’t listen to the hype about photographic paper that doesn’t fade, it’s rubbish.  If they’re exposed to the light long enough they’ll fade alright and sadly that means our memories will fade with them, all be it that we put our most precious pictures in those sticky acetate albums.  There in lies the problem.. the glue in them eats into the prints and eventually they are ruined.  Now this is all very negative (clue), but it’s a fact, and that begs the question what can we do to preserve our pictures for posterity?
Well sitting next to those old faded, dog eared pictures in the Fort Knox shoebox, I bet there’s an envelope or two, and in those envelopes there may be film negatives.  ‘Not much use’, I hear you say, ‘They’re well …negative.’  Yes, of course you could get them reprinted if you’re lucky enough to find a printer, but that will bring you back to square one, and cost an arm and a leg.  So here’s a lovely little trick that would make Bond proud.
Get hold of your smart phone and select a plain white wallpaper, if you’ve not got one there’s stacks of apps out there for downloading, I used an app called funnily enough,  ‘Plain’ and it does what it says on the tin, for 69p!
Next grab your digital camera, or another smartphone and put it on close up mode (usually that little tulip symbol) and set exposure to auto, now put the phone brightness to ‘full’ and place the negative on the screen and take the picture.  The next step is to load it into the computer as usual and open up Photoshop, Picassa or a manipulation program like Gimp (free download).  Go up to the menu, choose edit and ‘inverse image’,  low and behold, you’ll have a positive, beautiful picture, archived forever.  Now, if you’ve got old transparencies (slides) kicking about, it’s even easier, as they are positive images anyway, so you wont need to inverse them.  Don’t forget that if you copy the images onto a memory stick, you can plug it into the television and have a slide show.
how to copy-1
I am regularly asked by readers for tips and advice about taking better pictures.  I’m pleased to announce that I will be hosting photo schools in a variety of subjects, at Culzean Castle throughout the summer through Photography Made Simple.  Visit www.photographymadesimple.co.uk to book.
Iain Brown
01292 262787
Reportage Wedding Photography
18a Bellevue Crescent

Don’t do it yourself!

Posted in Photography Tips and Techniques on April 24th, 2014 by Phil – Comments Off

A lot of people seem to like the challenge of printing the photographs out at home.  We’re far too lazy to get the colours correct, and we find that by the time you have wasted a few copies it would be better to have them printed professionally. This way you have got someone to complain to  if the colours don’t work out. We find that www.instantprint.co.uk are pretty good – might be worth a look.

As a photographer,  we think you should spend your energy on taking great pictures, not desperately trying to make sure that the blue in the sky and on your camera are replicated on your prints.  We leave it to someone who does this for a living. Most home printers do a decent job for funny pictures you want to stick on a noticeboard at work, but for proper prints you need a proper printer to do it for you.

As for costs, people often seem to forget that they waste any pictures when they print out at home. Once you factor this in, and have a few slightly – not – the – right – colour pictures that you have printed and put up with because you paid for them, you often find it cheaper to just have them done professionally. Hence www.instantprint.co.uk!

The Effect of Changing ISO on Depth of Field

Posted in Photography Tips and Techniques on April 3rd, 2014 by Phil – Comments Off

We’re used to upping the ISO to speed up the shutter speed, but few people consider what it’s going to do the aperture. Increasing the ISO makes the camera more sensitive, so allows a faster shutter or a smaller aperture, which changes the depth of field.

Like this:


1/8000th, f2.8, 400ISO


1/8000th, f5.6, 1600ISO


1/8000th, f13, 6400ISO

You can see that the droplets stay the same, but the background comes into focus as the ISO increases.