Photography tips

Spot metering

For more accurate exposures, switch to spot metering and aim the metering area at a part of the subject you want to be recorded as a mid-tone. Use your camera’s exposure lock function to lock this setting before recomposing the shot.

Shoot sharp landscapes

Small apertures such as f/16 and f/22 increase the depth of field, or the amount of front-to-back sharpness. Perfect for landscapes, you might think. The trade-off is that they lead to softer pictures due to the effects of diffraction (where the light rays are bent out of shape as they pass through the small hole). For sharper details, it may be worth sacrificing a little depth of field and using an aperture that’s a couple of stops down from the smallest setting.

Working with a tripod

A tripod enables you to close the aperture of your shot down if you require a greater depth of field, and also to reduce your ISO to the highest quality setting. It’s also essential when you want to shoot longer exposures in low light, but a combination of strong gusts and spongy ground can make things tricky. In these conditions, you may have to resort to setting up on a firm area and keeping the tripod low, shielding the legs from the wind with your body. Read more: 7 golden rules of tripod stability

Brush up on your reflector skills

To prevent your portrait-sitter from squinting into the sun, position them so their back is towards the sun and use a reflector to bounce light onto their face, ‘feathering’ the reflected light rather than bouncing it directly into their eyes. It’s worth experimenting with different reflectors. A silver one adds a clean, crisp quality; a white one gives softer results that are often easier to blend in. Gold reflectors add warmth, but use them with care.

Shoot more flattering portraits

The low-contrast light afforded by cloudy but bright days is great for portraits as you won’t get ugly shadows under eyebrows and noses, or glare on people’s skin. Focal lengths of 85mm and longer are more flattering than shorter lengths. The angle you shoot at also counts: shooting from slightly below eye level implies confidence and power, while shooting from slightly above is slimming and intimate. Read more: The best portrait lenses

Get set up for candids

Things happen quickly when you’re shooting candids, so you need to have your camera ready to go. Avoid using a brightly coloured camera strap, and wrap it around your wrist rather than over your shoulder. Hold the camera at chest or head height, where it’s quicker to get it up to your eye. Not only does enable you to react faster, it’s less likely to attract your subject’s attention.

Expose to the right

To get the best-quality results, shoot in your camera’s raw file format and try to use an exposure that produces a histogram that just reaches the right-hand edge of the graph; avoid pushing the histogram over the edge, though. You can then bring the exposure to your preferred level when you process the image in raw software back at home.

Use the histogram

When you check the histogram on your camera display, its shape represents the dynamic range of the scene you’re photographing, while the width of the graph represents the dynamic range of the camera. If there are gaps to the far left or right of the histogram, these indicate over- or under-exposure, so some exposure adjustments may be required. Read more: How to read a histogram

Raw histogram

The preview and histogram that can be viewed on the camera are based on a JPEG version of the image, even if you took the shot using your camera’s raw format. The raw file holds a wider dynamic range than a JPEG, so to get a more representative histogram, set the Picture Style/Picture Control to a low-contrast, neutral setting.

Seeing in black and white

If you’d like total control over how your image is converted to black and white, it’s better to shoot in colour then make it mono in software. We’d recommend shooting in your camera’s raw format, as it gives you so much scope for playing around with the image later, although you can set your camera to its Monochrome picture style to get a black-and-white preview on the rear screen.

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