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No matter what stage you are at with your photography, there are always opportunities to improve. For me, the challenge is to keep things simple and to work on one thing at a time rather than trying to improve everything at once. Here are a few thoughts on how you can focus your efforts to capture better images.

Play is important for learning and improving. This can be done through experimenting and trying different things. You can play with different shutter speeds to see what works best for different scenarios. You can choose to leave the shutter open and capture the night sky as it swirls overhead or set it for a fraction of a second to capture high speed action. Using quick shutter speeds is great for sports shots with lots of action, while slow shutter speeds are nice for landscapes as there is not a lot of movement. It is wise to use a tripod if you plan to use a slow shutter speed.

Skies that are overcast can be a challenge. While overcast skies can make your photos look muted, treat this as a challenge and look for the artistic possibilities in the situation. It may be an opportunity for a black and white image. The texture in cloud formations can make for a striking image.

In photography, simplicity is often better than clutter. When framing your image in the view finder, always check around the edges to ensure you are not including any distracting elements. How you compose the image can have a major effect on the final image. Remember the rule of thirds and use it where it makes sense to do so.

Do not forget to read the manual that came with your camera and learn how to use the features. Are you going to shoot in manual mode or aperture priority or shutter priority or auto? Learn the differences between them and when is the best time to use each one.

Learn how to work a subject. Move around and try different vantage spots to take your image. Aim for something interesting and unique rather copying what everyone else has done. You want the image to be something that attracts others to your photography because you are expressing yourself.

It helps to be prepared as much as possible. When starting out at a new location, set your camera to the settings needed for the best possible image capture based on the environment and conditions. That way, when an opportunity presents itself, you can easily capture the image with the minimum of adjustment to your settings. That way you can spend more time on composing and capturing the best image possible.

Composition is an important element of photography. Check out what the masters did with their images. Study why the image worked and learn to apply the same principles into your own photography.

Leading lines and repeating patterns can add strength to an image. Remember to direct the viewers’ attention to what you want them to see. Use every available opportunity to tell the story in your image.

Set your camera to capture as much data as possible when you take the image. The choice of resolution should be made during post-production. Saving your captures at a lower resolution really does limit your options when you are processing your images.

Set your white balance to automatic in your camera. Image processing software can enable you to change this setting when you are processing your images. This gives you the maximum artistic flexibility to create the image that meets your vision.

It is useful to think of an idea before you start a photography session. Focusing on a specific subject can help you narrow down your options and enable you to really focus on working the scene. Taking good photographs is an artistic endeavour and the more successful pictures are those that show some planning. If you do so, you will see results that are much more compelling.

When photographing people, remember to take a mixture of images. Full body, face only, side view, sitting, standing and different poses. There are many ways to use the available light to create strikingly beautiful images of a person.

Learning more about photography takes time and effort. There are lots of different points you need to consider especially if you want to create images that stand out from the crowd. One of the best learning techniques is to experiment and play to find what works best in environment you are in. Also, review famous images from the masters to discover why the image worked. Use that knowledge in your own images.

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