Improving Photography Using Your Existing Equipment

Steps to Wining Photography

People think they'll improve their photography by buying a new $7,000 camera with a $1,900 lens. The bare fact is, in photography, technique is way more important than gear. The following ways will improve your photography with the equipment you already have.

A pro can take a $129.00 point and shoot and make it take better shots than an amateur with a Nikon D3X.

  1. Always try to hold the camera steady. Brace the camera on your elbows or something solid, such as a chair or table. If you have a tripod, use it when possible. Otherwise, brace your elbows against your sides, feet apart and hold your breath for the moment when you take the photo. Tripods do not need to be big or expensive. There are even miniature tabletop versions. When shooting hand-held, hold the camera level.

  2. Make sure the lens is clear of caps, thumbs, straps and other obstructions. It's basic, yes, but it can ruin a photograph completely.

  3. Always keep the lens caps on when not using the camera, clean optics are everything. Store you camera out of the direct sunlight. it's possible to damage the digital sensors.

  4. Learn the camera's limits. How close a photo can you take without it being blurred? How low can the light be? Can it handle motion?

  5. Learn to use the features of your camera. Do you know how to use manual focus? Take it out of the auto mode. Try some shots in aperture and shutter priority. Can you adjust the exposure? Adjust the ISO, Change the white balance? This way you will learn to use what you have. Most of the new point and shoot cameras have features way over the average users head. 

  6. Make the picture tell a story or raise a question.

  7. Fill the frame with your subject. Shed your fear of getting close to your subject. This seems the be the number one problem of snap shooters. The big exception to this rule is in interior real estate photography, where we want lots of space in the shot.

  8. Use the Rule of Thirds, Rule of Thirds is where the subject takes up one third of the shot to either the left or right. Avoid the boring center.

  9. Remove distracting backgrounds. Move a little bit so that that lamp post does not appear to be growing our of your friend's head. If glare is coming off the windows of the house across the street, change your angle a bit to avoid that area. When shooting people with glasses, have them tilt their head down just a little. I shot a beautiful landscape once and when I uploaded it to the computer, the sky had a of dots across it. Upon enlarging the image, the dots were birds flying overhead.

  10. Try another interesting angle. Instead of shooting the subject straight on, try looking down to the subject, or crouching and looking up. An unusual angle makes for a more interesting shot.

  11. Don't waste time and space shooting pictures of things that don't matter (people doing rude things, etc.) or you may end up with a really awesome photo opportunity and no space left on your memory card to take advantage of it. Make sure your pictures are worthwhile. When using a digital camera, download the photos from it regularly to keep more free space on your memory card.

  12. Practice, Practice, Practice. Especially with digital cameras, there's no reason not to take a number of shots of one subject, delete the ones that didn't turn out well. Notice, as you go along, what worked and what didn't.

  13. Photoshop. Photoshop is a must with digital photos. Adjust the color and brightness so that the shot looks clear and natural. Crop out excess background, leaving only the subject and enough surroundings to give some context. Correct red-eye and other mishaps.

  14. If you already have a DSLR camera, don't upgrade it until you acquire and practice using the following essential accessories.
    1. An external flash (You need this for bounce anywhere but in your subject's eyes and to turn off that ugly on-camera flash

    2. If you want to do interiors, get a wider lens than that 18-55 kit lens.

    3. A circular polarizer to cut the haze and give the clouds some oomph!

    4. A graduated neutral density filter. (works similar to number 3)

    5. If you don't have number 12 above, get Adobe Photoshop elements, this will do more for your photography than any new camera. About $79.00

  15. Very Important! Stay off those web sites that do 0 to 60 quarter mile speed tests, shoot brick walls and gnats at 500 yards, blow up the photo ten times and then complain about the gnat's a--- not being sharp. They like to show impressive graphs of light fall-off and of sharpness degrading with the sole goal of knocking every lens priced under $5,000. They like to show their macho superiority by using an analogy of their super duper review (Rolls Royce) vs your camera or the one you can afford (a Toyota).  If you don't own this year's model, their goal is to convince you that you need 500 megapixels just to to shoot photos of your family and pets. These people spend all their spare time on the internet comparing equipment, but they don't have any galleries, because they don't shoot any photos. Cameras don't shoot good photos, people do. Don't even ask me about my camera gear, I like to collect things and I like to have the newest gadgets. The difference, I take them out and shoot with them. I have over 1,000 photos on this website alone and some of the best photos have shot with old gear and my $129 Canon Powershot A1000.

    Also stay off those web sites that spend page after page telling you all third party lenses are junk and the only quality lenses are from the camera manufacturer. aka (Canon or Nikon). We know this is a lot of hog wash.  Also avoid those blogs that repeat the same story of a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 being so blurry the f/3.4-5.6 kit lens was actually sharper (they didn't bother shooting a lens comparison in very low light). People buy f/1.4 lenses because they're f/1.4 lenses. Or the same old tired story of a Sigma lens literally falling apart in their hands. This story has been floating around the internet for years. I also like the user after user reviews of a certain fast lenses not being sharp. You can shoot 95% of all the lenses wide open and they will not be sharp. These people need to learn to use their cameras. The internet is a great place to learn things, but after the 20th web blog with same old tired information about a particular lens being bad. These stories are word for word.  Give me a break.

  16. Lets talk about the best cameras, gear, lenses, etc. The best camera is the one you had in your hand at the moment, you went ahead and shot the shot, and it has turned out to be your best shot ever. Re-read number 11 above.

  17. Nikon D7000
    Nikon D7000 DX Camera
  18. Seriously, you can take great photos on a NIkon D40 (comes with 18-55 zoom kit lens) for under $500. It's only 6 megapixels, many of the new point and shoot cameras have 10 and 12 megapixels, and you'll pay $350-$400 for a good point and shoot, but megapixels don't tell the whole story. The D40 is light, it can use every Nikkor lens made since 1986 and if you decide to upgrade, the lenses go on to your next camera. Compare the D40 with a Nikon D300. The D300 costs $2,300 with the Nikkor 18-200 lens, weighs 30 ounces, plus battery 4 ounces. and lens, 19.8 ounces or a whopping 53.8 ounces vs the D40 17 ounces, battery 4 ounces, kit lens 7.2 ounces (28.2 ounces total) or almost half as much, Which would you rather carry? and the D300 costs 4 1/2 times as much. Maybe you should Best Prices for the D40 and take the money you save and go on a photo shoot.


  • Pick up a National Geographic and notice how professional photojournalists tell stories in pictures.

  • If you're planning on buying a camera, read how to choose one and don't go over the top. Even a 6MP Nikon D40 with the 18-55mm  kit lens will give you constant opportunities to learn to shoot. Most of the newer mid-range (Bridge Cameras) fixed lens digital will shoot excellent photos.

  • Frame the photo in your mind before framing it in the viewfinder.

  • Train yourself to shoot a subject from at least three points of view. For example, if you are shooting a person, take a head-and-shoulders portrait, an environmental portrait, and a portrait from an unusual angle.

  • Shoot lots and lots of digital images -- ten times what you'd normally shoot. Never delete or throw anything away. Archive everything so you can find it again (practice good housekeeping by naming folders and including dates - it makes life much easier when you search). Periodically go back and review what you've done and ask yourself how you could have done better.

  • Depending on the camera, the viewfinder may not correspond exactly to the shot that you get. If the viewfinder looks through a lens, you can shoot with confidence. If the viewfinder looks out above and beside the lens, though, you'll need to experiment and possibly correct for the misalignment.

  • Make a habit of carrying your camera with where ever you go so that you can take a shot whenever you see something worthy of photographing.

  • Download to your computer and Upload to your photos to Flickr or if you have Adobe Elements, then to Adobe
  • often updated article

Facebook Comments