It’s all about the light: Easy tips for taking better photos

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By Nanci Dixon
Light matters when taking photos, whether with an expensive SLR camera or on a pocket-sized cell phone. The light can make or break a shot and move the mundane to art. One of the easiest ways to improve your photography is to start actively looking at how the light is illuminating a subject or the objects around your subject.

A simple change in the time of day, angle or exposure can dramatically change the photo. Take a look at the image below, for example. Moving around the eagle helped to find not only the best angle to highlight the beak, but also the best light to highlight the feather detail.

This brick path, although interesting on its own, was made more so by a dabbling of light. The time difference in photos was only about ten minutes. Often it pays to stay in one place for a little bit and wait for the light to come through.
A vibrant sunset shot can be quickly obtained by merely darkening the exposure. While aiming toward the sun on your phone, move the light/dark slider to a darker exposure and watch the colors intensify.

Is the sun streaming through grass and trees too bright in your lens? Move to break it up with a tree branch or other object, like in the photo of the cactus below.

If you are getting lens flare from the sun simply block the flare with your hand out of the lens’s sight. Then take the photo with the side button.

Early morning and late afternoon, not mid-day, are traditionally the best times to get great photos. The color of the light is warmer, the shadows are longer with more detail, and the intensity of light is softer.

Starting to look at the light, not just the scene, can transform your photos from a basic point-and-shoot record to a memory to admire for years to come.

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Genie Holt
12 days ago

I’m embarrassed I didn’t know some of these things! Thank you.