Want everything in focus?
Use aperture priority mode, zoom out to the lens's widest setting and select a large f number like f16 or f22. This is ideal for shooting pin-sharp landscapes.
Taking a portrait?
Again use aperture priority, but this time zoom in a bit and select a small f number so only your subject is in focus, aka having a shallow depth of field. It draws the viewer's attention to your subject.
The same technique can be used to create bokeh. Position your subject in front of a well-lit background, as far in front of it as possible.
Set your camera up for a shallow depth of field (see above). Any little lights and reflections in the background turn into bokeh, blurred circles of light that look beautiful.
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Be aware of motion blur. You'll need a fast shutter speed for a sharp image if your subject is moving.
Or make a virtue of motion blur – for example, a slow shutter speed will give you beautiful light trails behind car headlights or a stunning effect when shooting a waterfall in flow.
Shooting at night?
You'll need a small f number and slow shutter speed to capture enough light. But be sure to hold your camera steady; if you don't have a tripod, lean against something solid. Cameras with large image sensors get the best results in low light.
Often you'll find some parts of your image are too bright and others are too dark.
On a compact camera, you can usually tap on the touch screen to tell it which bit of the picture to set the exposure on. On more sophisticated cameras such as SLRs, switch to manual mode and use exposure compensation, then adjust till it suits.
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Let nature be your guide
Let mother nature make your images beautiful. In the golden hour, just after sunrise or just before sunset, light travels through more of the atmosphere to get to you. As a result, it takes on a warm, golden red hue that is naturally flattering.
See the big picture
Compact and bridge cameras (a half-way house between smaller cameras and big SLRs) often have an automatic panorama mode.
You simply pan the camera around and then it does all the hard work for you, stitching the images together into a stunning big picture.
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When composing a shot, look for leading lines that run from one or more corners into the middle of the picture.
For example, railway tracks, a fence, a row of lampposts, a shoreline, a road, even sun rays. They draw your eye into the picture and create a sense of depth.
Professional photographers spend as much time (if not more) photo editing, as they do taking the snaps in the first place.
Free software like GIMP and Pixlr are great for losing red-eye, removing photo bombers and correcting colour. And experiment with cropping – everything from Instagram-style square images to striking, wide landscapes – to make the most of your composition.
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