Do you like to take photographs? Would you like to improve the quality of your photos with little effort? Well, the following 3 tips will instantly improve your photos whether you are using a Digital camera or a cell phone. Some of these may take a little practice and for some of these tips there may also be a tool on your camera or phone to help assist you.


Having a straight horizon makes photos more appealing to the eye.

Straight Horizon

The first thing to immediately improve your photos is to make sure that the horizon is straight. Landscapes and portraits all look more appealing to the eye when the horizon is straight. A straight horizon is also the first thing that distinguishes amateur photographers from professionals. Most new cameras and some phone have a level setting built in as an option. Using the level on your phone or camera will make taking photos with a straight horizon much easier.

There are times when the horizon will not be straight such as when you are taikng a photo of the side of a mountain or hill, or when you are trying to get an artistic look that gives a different perspective. The rest of the time you want you horizon straight.

As you can see in the photos to the left, the upper photo has a crooked horizon and it looks like the earth is tilted to one side. A crooked horizon does something to the viewer's eye. It draws attention away from the subject of your photo. The viewer's brain gets stuck on the fact that the horizon is not correct. 

As you look at the he bottom photo you will notice it has a straight horizon and is much more appealing to the eye. The straight horizon is much more natural and allows the viewer's eye to focus on the subject of the photo instead of being distracted by the horizon.

By correcting your horizons in your photos you will immediately set yourself apart from most photos out there. Next time you are on Instagram or Facebook, look at the photos and see how many have crooked horizons. After seeing them and noticing you will see how much better those photos would have looked had the horizon been straight!

Image Focus

When the subject of your photo is blurry it is the result of an issue with focus. Nobody wants to look at a blurry image. When I do photo shoots, the first images I toss out are any that are blurry. I don't even bother because they cannot be fixed afterwards. Is you camera set to auto? Auto focus on most cameras today is spectacular but it doesn't alway work out exactly as planned because the camera is not smart enough to know what you want in focus. The autofocus guesses and chooses the area closest to the middle and focuses most often there as you can see in the photo to the right. The camera selected an area more in the middle which did not put the bee into focus but instead part of the flower. 

As you will see in the next section, we do not always want the subject in the middle of the photo. So to combat this issue you will move the subject to the middle and depress the shutter button halfway and hold. Then shift the subject to where you want them and then depress the shutter fully. This focuses on your subject and holds the focus until you take the photo. This skill will take some practice for sure. Sorry cell phone users but this will not work on your cell phone.

Cell phone users can often touch the screen to determine where it wants the camera to focus. Hold your phone up to take a photo and then touch the subject of your photo. Most phones will highlight the area you touched with a circle. Once you have your focus point, push the button to take the photo. BAM! You have it and now your image will be focused exactly where you wanted!  



 Using the Rule of Thirds brings and extra dimension of style to your photos.

Using the Rule of Thirds brings and extra dimension of style to your photos.

rule of thirds

The idea behind the Rule of Thirds is that an image is divided into 9 equal parts as in the photo to the left. The Rule of Thirds proposes that you line your subject on any of the lines and most importantly the intersecting points to create a more interesting and eye pleasing photograph. As you can see in the photo to the right, the cairn (stack of rocks) has been placed on the right vertical line and also at the lower hroizontal line intersection. This pulls the subject away from the middle of the photograph and adds an element of interest. Placing your horizon on either of the hoizontal lines also distinguishes which are of the photograph is more interesting; the sky or the ground. You can see that the horizon has been placed on the lower line and this suggests that the sky is of more interest to the viewer. Since this is either a sunset or sunrise, you would expect this to also be part of the focus of this photograph.

Using the inetersectiong points to line up your photos are considered the best points. Lining your subject and horizon on the line is considered second best. My suggestion is to take several photos but each time make sure you move your subject around on the points and/or lines. You can look at all of them afterwards to decide which placement looks best to you.

Practicing this skill will quickly change the look of your photographs from snapshots to pro shots!

Now you have 3 new tips to help you in your photography. Practice! Practice! Practice! Practice is your bonus tip. Practice each of these skills separately until you have each one down and then put them all together to make those spectacular images you never thought you could! Shoot away friends and enjoy your new found skills!