Quick and simple tips for better holiday photos

A little bit of thought about the composition of a photo can make a big difference to the result, even if you’re only using a £150 compact camera.

So we’ve put together a few quick and simple tips to help you take better photos, whether you’re headed to the beach or the country for your holiday. Plus, if you’ve any great tips of your own, feel free to share them in the comments section below.

If you’re looking for a new camera to take on holiday, check out how the latest models performed in our rigorous lab tests in our digital camera reviews.

Photographing peoplePhotographing people

  • Place the person off-centre to break up the shot. You could also try tilting the camera.
  • Move the person to avoid background clutter or blur the background, using a wider aperture setting (ie. a smaller f number, such as f/4).
  • Set up the pose with the the light source in front and slightly to the side of the subject – no more than 45 degrees round to the side or  you’ll risk casting long nose shadows.

Photographing landscapesPhotographing landscapes

  • Use a small aperture (a bigger f number, such as f/11) so the whole scene is in focus, or use the landscape mode on a compact camera as this will do the same thing.
  • Use a tripod or rest the camera on a rock or fence to keep it still.
  • Put something in the foreground for interest, such as a path running through the shot.
  • Check for pylons, cars or people that may spoil the scene, or in the case of people, position the shot so that they act as a focal point and work in favour of the shot.

Macro shotMacro shots

  • Use the macro setting on the camera.
  • Keep the subject simple and look for strong colours.
  • For cameras with manual options, use a large aperture (such as f/4) to blur the background.
  • Support the camera to keep it as still as possible, as the focus point will be a matter of millimetres – using a small tripod is a good idea.

Action shotsAction shots

  • Pre-set the focus – half press the shutter – so you can take the shot quickly.
  • Anticipate where the subject will be when you take the shot, so they don’t move out of the frame.
  • Try using the flash with a slower exposure (such as 1/15) for a flash and blur effect. Set the flash to go off at the end of the exposure.

More on this…

Categories: Cameras

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2 replies

  1. Good points but don’t forget the basics!

    Rule of thirds: Put the principal subject 1/3 of the way across/up the photo – your camera may have a graticule on the screen to help. All the example photos use this rule!

    Lighting: Wait for the sun if you can, it adds colour and contrast

    Crouch: Almost every shot looks better from a lower viewpoint, especially children.

    And my bugbear, don’t take “portrait” snaps by rotating a digital camera – you’ll probably show them off on a laptop or TV with a “landscape” screen so you’ll just get a tiny picture. You’ll have plenty of megapixels to crop the shot later if need be.

    It has never been easier to get great pictures.

  2. If taking a picture of someone with a lot of light behind her (e.g. person in front of a window), select forced flash to light up her face.

    When taking a picture through a window, select scene/landscape mode to avoid the camera focussing on possible marks on the window glass.

    To avoid harsh flash shadows, hold a piece of thin tissue over the flash. You make have to adjust the EV level slightly to compensate for the slightly reduced flash brightness.

    Buy a small, cheap 15cm high tripod. Easy to stow away and great for the occasional flash-disabled shots. Also great for holding the camera up at arms-length plus the 15cm with short timed delay set, to take picture over the crowd e.g.

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