My Learning Curve - Part 1

1. Digital Photography Techniques

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Exposure

The Basics – This Exposure section is interlinked with probably all of the aspects in this Photographic Techniques section. And so serves as an introduction in some ways to this section.

An exposure is the image captured by the light sensor in the back of the camera. This image is dependent on the ISO setting and the amount of light that falls onto the sensor. The ISO setting dictates the sensor sensitivity to light, or more accurately the ISO setting on a digital camera can be thought of as a volume setting amplifying the light received (this amplification is critically aligned to noise, see Noise section below). The amount of light falling on the sensor is a function of the aperture (width of the opening made to let light onto the sensor) and shutter speed (how long that opening is left open for light to pass onto the sensor). If too much light is allowed to pass onto the sensor the images will be 'washed out' or even ‘burnt out’, if too little light falls on the sensor the image will be dark or even black.

The light meter in the camera (before you take the image) and the Light/Dark Histogram on the back of the camera, along with viewing the image, are your means of monitoring exposure and adjusting your aperture (F Stop), Shutter speed (usually expressed as fractions of a second e.g. 1/250th or seconds e.g. 5) and ISO in order to produce the required exposure.

For most images the idea will be to attain the ‘Correct Exposure’, i.e. one were the image light and details fairly reflect the actual scene. Exposure can also be manipulated to produce images that do not reflect the actual image e.g. using a long exposure setting (shutter opening time) and wide aperture (small F Stop number e.g. F5.6 or less) in order to capture an image in poor light without the use of a flash. Exposure can also be used to produce striking artificial images.

Because exposure depends on the three factors – Aperture, ISO and Shutter Speed – these can be combined in different amounts to produce a correct image and so there is more than one technically correct exposure each appropriate for the type of image you wish to portray. The type of image you wish to portray will depend on the amount of motion you wish to portray in the image, the depth of field, mood etc. These are discussed further in the Aperture section below.

Exposure options/technique is also equipment dependent and weather/natural light dependent. The use of tripods/bean bags/mono pods, flashes, low F Stop lenses and Digital SLR’s with good noise reduction at higher ISO’s will maximise your exposure options. Good levels of natural light and no wind also maximise your exposure options. I suppose the essence of good photography is heavily dependent on the skilful balance, with an artistic flair, of all these practical and artistic issues. At the end of the day sometimes you will have a wide selection of exposure options and at other times you will be struggling to get an acceptable image from the only exposure option available to you at that time.


Internal Light Meter and Histogram

On most digital SLR’s there will be a light meter that can be viewed from the outside of the camera and through the view finder. This meter can be used to judge the exposure level of your image. You should consult your operator’s manual for full details, particularly the type of metering employed by your camera. I have mine set on Evaluative (in Canon speak) and never move it, this metering mode (as I understand it, in simple terms) takes light readings from the whole image area and is more likely to give you the correct exposure more of the time than the partial or centre weighted metering options. By adopting this philosophy I believe I am setting a stable benchmark from which to learn about the metering characteristics of a particular camera. I can then form a reliable data bank of custom adjustments from the cameras automatic metering in order to produce the type of exposure that I, and not the camera, may want to produce.

The ‘correct exposure’ according to the cameras light meter and or automatic settings can easily be fooled (because it thinks the world is a neutral shade of grey and then sets it exposure to match this programming), especially when there are large ranges of light and dark in a scene e.g. bright light on white feathers of an overall dark bird and dark background or all white (snow scenes) or all dark scenes e.g. when a black coloured bird fills most of the frame. As a general rule if there is a predominance of black in a scene you may need to underexpose by perhaps up to 1 stop because left to the cameras automatic settings the image will probably come out greyer than the actual scene. If it is mostly a white scene e.g. snow then up to 1.5 stops over exposure may be necessary otherwise, again, the automatic settings will give you a grey coloured exposure.

The adjustment of exposure is most easily done be setting the camera in AV or aperture priority mode and to under or over expose by shutter speed. On Canon cameras this is easily accomplished please see your operator’s manual for details. Aperture priority, shutter speed priority and fully manual modes each have their ideal uses which you will discover as you progress. I currently find that I use aperture priority 70%, shutter priority 10% and fully manual 20% of the time.

As you progress you will become more aware of when not to rely on the cameras suggested exposure settings, it just takes time to learn. There are many good internet sites and books that deal with this subject in more detail and I urge you to seek these out, a better understanding of your cameras metering and exposure will greatly improve your pictures.

One of the biggest advantages of a digital camera is the light/dark histogram function when viewing a captured image, please see your operator’s manual for details. This aid is invaluable in deciding whether your image has the correct exposure and that areas of white are not ‘burnt out’.

Digital sensors can loose all detail when to much light is allowed to reach it, this results in burn out, which typically occurs on parts of the image caught in sunlight that reflect lots of light e.g. white feathers. Burn out areas can be identified using the histogram; they will be peaks in the histogram at the far right hand side. Burnt out areas will also flash when the image is viewed alongside its histogram on some cameras.

Equally detail is lost and noise can hide in areas of the image which are dark, i.e. grouped at the left hand side of the histogram. The ideal histogram is a nice bell shape that doesn’t touch the extreme left or right of the axis and peaks around the middle.

In my readings some believe the peak should be just before the middle of the axis, others at the middle and still others just slightly to the right of the mid point. My limited experience to date points to a consideration of potential noise in the picture (see Noise below) as the dictator of which point is correct and so will vary for different shots. In general I have found that a peak just before the mid point gives the most pleasing looking images, if you feel there is little cause for potential noise problems in the image. It should be noted that a classic bell shaped histogram is not possible every shot and in these circumstances experience and taking various exposures at different settings and viewing the resulting histogram and image will be the key to a best image.

In summary I have found a big improvement in my pictures from taking the time to understand exposure generally, how the light meter in my camera works, how my camera wishes to automatically expose images and from paying close attention to the histogram of each image taken (when time allows).


ISO

The Basics – As above, ISO is inextricable linked to aperture and shutter speed in order to obtain the correct exposure. The choice of ISO, camera, lens and stabilisation method will either limit or expand your exposure options to produce an image that is of the correct light, sharpness and depth of filed that you require.

I view the ISO selector on a digital camera as a volume switch. The more I increase ISO the more I amplify the light digital information coming from the sensor. I find it useful to think of it in this way because with increases in ISO comes increases in Digital Noise (see below) and therefore a decrease in image quality. The ISO selector is merely amplifying the light sensor information and the more you amplify the more you amplify the ‘bad information’ – noise – in the image.

I believe it is correct to say that the noise reduction capabilities of digital cameras is constantly improving and so while perhaps now you would not dream of trying to use ISO1600, use ISO400 if you have to but feet safe using ISO200 and very safe with ISO 100 this is changing. In the future if we can start using ISO 400 and up with no fear of noise it will make a huge difference to the wildlife photographer……... I can’t wait.


Specific Thoughts - I must admit to having had a lot of problems with (and still battling with) image quality, most of this has been down to using too high an ISO, not using mono pods, bean bags and tripods enough, not using high enough shutter speeds and not appreciating the times when noise can lurk in the dark areas of an image.

My current philosophy for general wildlife photography with canon 20D’s, 30D’s and 5D’s is try to stick to ISO 200, only go up to ISO 400 if you have too. Having said that I am experimenting with what is called ‘Exposing to the right’ which allows you to take acceptable shots, from a noise perspective, at higher ISO’s – ISO 400 and above - (see Noise below) and have found this approach partially successful to date. For Landscape work I almost exclusively use ISO100 and sometimes ISO50 shooting always with a stabilisation aid (tripod, bean bag etc.). To be honest I can't really tell any difference between ISO 50 and ISO 100 but feel I should use ISO 50 when light levels allow.

If you can only get the shot with high ISO’s then try converting it to Black and White in Photoshop (or other package) the grain effect and noise may not appear as offensive in black and white as in colour and may even be appealing.

At the end of the day its better to use a higher ISO in order to get an acceptable shutter speed to get a clearer image (less motion blur - from you or the subject) than sticking religiously to say ISO 200 and getting a blurred image, packing up when you can no longer take acceptable speed images or missing out on low light opportunities.


Apertures

The Basics – An increase in F stop leads to a reduction in the aperture diameter opened to let light fall onto the sensor at the back of the camera. Therefore the higher the F stop the longer the exposure time (Shutter speed) required (for a given ISO) to produce a correct exposure because less light passes though the smaller opening and so it needs to be left open longer to give the sensor enough information to produce an image. Increasing the F stop also increases the depth of filed of the image. In other words more elements of the image at different distances from the camera appear to be in focus to the human eye – see the Depth of Field section below for more details.

Differing depths of field lead to very different images of the same subject.

If focus is needed on the subject only e.g. the portrait of an animal then an F stop with a shallow depth of filed may be appropriate, this approach will lead to the background behind the subject becoming blurred while the subject is in sharp focus. This approach emphasises the subject and brings it to the fore in the image. This effect, depending on the type of lens and distance of subject from the lens is usually apparent in most situations at F5.6 or below.

This blurring of the background is a very useful technique. It can be used to blur distracting background objects that would detract from the subject. It can also lead to pleasing blurred colours and areas of general light and dark that complement the subject.

At the other extreme if the photographer wishes to portray the subject in its surroundings and have the foreground, subject and background in focus then a high F stop will be required. This effect, depending on the type of lens and distance of subject from the lens is usually apparent in most situations at F11 or more. This technique is usually employed in landscape photography when using wide angle lenses (lens than 100mm). A tripod and the use of the camera timer to trip the shutter or a remote shutter release will usually be required as the use of a high F stop will usually mean slow shutter speeds and so camera shake will be an issue if you are hand holding. Focusing a third into the landscape will be required in order to maximise the amount of fore, middle and background that is in focus – this is related to depth of field see section below. Appropriate F stops will be F11 or higher depending on the lens, subject distance from the lens and required finished image areas of focus. If the photographic opportunity arises, F13 would be a good starting place, then after review of each image, increase or decrease F stop accordingly. The depth of field preview button (see your operator’s manual for details) is also a useful tool to give you a view prior to taking the image of what the depth of field will be. This can be a little tricky to use in practice as you will notice the image becomes quite dark when this function is activated but in most circumstances it can give you a good idea of the depth of field for your image.

The 'middle ground F Stops' - F7.1 to F10- are the F Stops when image clarity of a given lens is likely to be at its best, with F8 being probably the ideal. These 'middle ground F stops' have a moderate depth of field.


Specific Thoughts - Image quality, especially of the mid to budget price lenses can be noticeable quite soft (relatively poor) at their lowest F stops and then again at their higher F Stops. I was not aware of this when I first started and had one lens whose image quality was very poor at F5.6 but was really quite sharp at F8. I had thought that it was me, then the camera then the focusing system until I took 2 pictures of the same subject at these differing F stops, which subsequently proved the point.

The top end lenses (Canon L series etc.) have very good image quality wide open (at their lowest F stops) and can be used without hesitation at their lowest F stops. However, when using other lenses, especially if you are looking for a really crisp image, they may be best used at more than a stop or so above their minimum (if circumstances permit).


Shutter Speed

The Basics - Shutter speed dictates how long the aperture is open and so how much light passes onto the sensor at the back of the camera. Your choice of shutter speed in any given situation will be dictated by ISO and aperture choice (and vice versa).

In most circumstances you will be interested in producing as sharp an image as possible, free of motion blur from the subject and camera shake from you.

The higher the shutter speed you are able to use the less your image will be affected by motion blur and camera shake.

Some images will benefit from the notion of movement in the subject and so motion blur from the subject will be advantageous and so a slower shutter speed than normal will be required.

Camera shake is greatly amplified as the focal length of lenses increase. A shutter speed that may be appropriate for a hand held shot with a 50mm lens, will not be acceptable when hand holding a 500mm lens hence the greater need to stabilise cameras (use of tripods, mono pods and bean bags etc.) as focal lengths increase. And the need to use as high a shutter speed as possible (bearing in mind increases in noise at high ISO) when using lenses of 200mm or more.

The correct shutter speed to use in each circumstance will vary and there is no substitute for experience here. The exact shutter speed choice will depend on the type of image you wish to produce and the actual practical circumstances you find yourself in at the time of the shot.

I have listed some VERY GENERAL rules below which represent good starting points. Please see the separate section on Sharp Images below for thought specifically on image sharpness:

For a sharp image use a shutter speed that is at least as high as the lens focal length i.e. with a 300mm lens always try to use a shutter speed of at least 1/300th or more. Image stabilisation (IS) systems (camera or lens) can help greatly with camera shake so this rule can be relaxed slightly in these circumstances.

Bearing in mind the above rule, for hand held shots even with a wide angle lenses to get acceptably sharp images you don’t really want to go below 1/125th, though with practice 1/60th is possible.

Intentional motion blur can be effected in the image usually at around 1/60th or less depending on the speed of the subject.

To freeze movement of a subject you will have to use shutter speeds of at least 1/640th, and usually a lot higher e.g. 1/2000th, depending on the subjects speed.

Specific Thoughts – Aside from the basics above I must admit that shutter speed is an area where I am still learning a lot from each camera excursion. To get a clear sharp image there is no doubt that a tripod/monopod or bean bag is essential in the battle against camera shake.

The ideal shutter speed depends on a myriad of circumstances including:

Focal length of lens
The amount of motion you wish to convey in the image
Degree of camera support (hand held, mono pod, tripod or bean bag etc.)
Movement of subject itself
Movement of the subject, camera and you caused by the environment e.g. wind, being in a vehicle or on a boat, etc.
Whether your equipment has Image Stabilisation (IS) within the lens or camera
Type of camera shutter release (manual, timer/or cable release, mirror lock up technique)

Because of all the variables above, wherever possible, I tend to take a number of shots of the same subject at many different shutter speeds in order to learn from and obtain the correct shutter speed to get a clear image under those particular unique circumstances. If in doubt I always shot at a faster shutter speed that my initial first thoughts.


Digital Noise

The Basics – I need to start by saying that Digital Noise was a real issue for me and still haunts me now and again to this day.

In my Specific Thoughts section below I have listed a number of useful web sites that reiterate what I have written here and give further details by those much more qualified to comment than I.

I think it is probably best to start by saying that all Digital cameras suffer from Digital Noise, but the type of camera you have and the way you use it can all help to reduce this Noise to an acceptable level.

Compact digitals suffer from Noise more than digital SLR’s and high end D SLR’s suffer less than low end D SLR’s.

Unacceptable amounts of Noise are likely to occur when you are using a high ISO – Depending on your camera this could be from ISO 400 or ISO 800 and above.

It is likely to occur if you have underexposed an image or any part of an image. Therefore if you have dark areas in an image it is highly likely that if you look carefully the dreaded Noise will be lurking there.

It is also likely to be present if you have used a long shutter speed (however I do not yet know how long a long shutter speed is, I would probably say from my experience, for a Canon 20D, it is probably longer than 1/30th).

Achieving ‘acceptable’ levels of Noise means understanding Noise in general and the particular Noise characteristics of your camera.

Therefore in your battle against Noise you should be:

Thinking ISO choice first – aim to stick to a maximum ISO of 200 to 400 depending on your camera. This tends to push you towards using a mono pod or tripod/bean bag (which is probably no bad thing).

Ensuring that your images are properly exposed. If you have dark areas in your image then slightly overexposing so the Histogram is bunched in the middle or slightly to the right of the middle (as long as light areas are not burnt out, i.e. make sure that no part of the histogram is touching/bunched to the extreme right).

Being aware that Noise is likely to occur at longer shutter speeds and, if your camera has the option, activating it’s ‘in camera noise reduction’.

Consider using a D SLR rather than a compact.

Using a flash as a noise reduction tool by increasing light levels and therefore allow you to use a lower ISO and/or shorter shutter speed.

Full frame sensors suffer less from Noise e.g the Canon 5D is renowned for its low noise levels.

Use noise reduction software as part of your image processing work flow. I am just getting to grips with this aspect and the only comment I can pass on to date is that to my mind there is a real trade off in image softening with this approach, but at least it is some help. I am currently using Neat Image though there are many other stand alone noise reduction applications as well as the built in Photoshop version.

On the subject of correct exposure, some photographers have written about ‘Exposing to the Right’ i.e. intentionally over exposing slightly (as long as lighter areas are not burnt out). I like to think of this in the following manner – If the ISO selector on your camera is an amplification/volume control then if it has poor information/light data then increasing the volume will increase the bad information and hence noise. Therefore if you over expose slightly you have a better chance of there being good information to amplify and so you get less noise in your pictures. I have experimented with this and found it is a useful technique to have in your armoury but I would say it should only be used when Noise is likely to occur (i.e. when you are forced to use a high ISO or a long shutter speed or when there are lots of dark areas with some detail) and I would not advocate slightly over exposing as a general rule, I have found that burnt out areas becomes a real issue on more occasions if you adopt this approach and it leads to lots of Photoshop work correcting your over exposures. I have also not had quite the success achieved by others with this technique. It may be because I am not following their advice exactly or I think, more likely, that their camera has different Noise characteristics to mine.

Specific Thoughts – The following web sites are worth reviewing in order to better understand and combat digital noise. Some are quite general and others more in depth.

- Link To – General overview site on noise

- Link To – General overview site on noise

- Link To – More detailed site on noise

- Link To – Site covering ‘Exposing to the Right’

- Link To – Site covering using D SLR’s at high ISO

- Link To – Good general noise site

- Link To – Excellent noise information site with link to additional information


Sharp Images

The Basics - Ultra sharp images are a function of good technique and good equipment.

Good technique stems from:

Correct focus

Auto focus is a real must have for most wildlife shots. Usually as you progress up the manufacturer’s range of cameras the auto focus gets more precise and quicker. The top end cameras are capable of keeping focus lock on fast moving subjects resulting in many more ‘keeper’ in focus shots than the lower range cameras.

I have read of cases where the auto focus facility of the camera, or perhaps the lens/camera combo, are incapable of focusing correctly. This can lead to a very subtle ‘out of focus’ which can be verified and corrected by taking the potentially offending combo to your manufacturers recommended repairers.

I have also found, from my own experience (which could be peculiar to the camera lens combos in question) that for one telephoto lens combo even though the auto focus seems to lock correctly if you are focusing on a subject at the lenses closest focusing distance the focus can be out slightly and so it is best to be 20 to 30cm further away than the minimum focus distance (and make up for the further distance away be cropping the sharper image later). Conversely with one macro combo I have found that I can manually focus at distances much closer than the cameras auto focus can cope with. It may be that the first observation above would disappear with the purchase of newer camera with an improved auto focus system.

At times manual focusing will be your only method of obtaining a sharp image. This is likely to occur when your auto focus system is fooled, usually when you are trying to take a picture through say Zoo fencing/bars or through undergrowth. The camera will annoyingly keep altering focus away from the subject. This can be minimised by selecting a specific focus point rather than using an all over focus setting available on most cameras (I usually have only the central focus point selected, unless I am photographing moving objects or am playing with depth of field etc. and do not want the centre point to be the point of sharpest focus).


Correct shutter speed

The higher the shutter speed the less the image will be affected by camera or subject movement. However this needs to be viewed along with correct exposure and the noise induced by a high ISO setting. As with almost all photographic situations your juggling of camera stabilisation, environment, ISO, shutter speed and aperture will have a significant bearing on the sharpness of your image.


Stable camera – Tripod/monopod/bean bag etc.

Your means of stabilising the camera in order to reduce camera movement will have a huge bearing on image quality. You should always opt for the most stable camera solution practical in any given situation. This could mean that good hand holding technique is your only option. If you get used to a mono pod its surprising how quickly you can manoever the camera into position and take a steady shot. Ultimately the use of a bean bag or tripod will be your ideal solution. I have found that my backpack makes a useful mobile bean bag. When the need arises you should also think of making the most of rocks, the ground, tree trunks, buildings, walls etc. etc. in order to steady your shots.

Good breathing thechnique will also help. By this I mean breathing in deeply, letting some air out, holding your breath and being as relaxed as possible then gently depressing the shutter button, releasing your breath only after the shutter has fired.

Correct ISO

Correct Aperture

Correct shutter release method

Understanding the affect of subject movement and the environment around you and the subject on all the above

Understanding your lens

Checking each image for sharpness after taking the shot (where possible)

Correct processing technique

Regarding good equipment, to produce sharp images your camera will probably be a digital SLR from a well known manufacturer (though it is reported that some of the high end compacts are more than capable of matching digital SLR’s for image quality in most situations, though you will be limited by lenses at the end of the day) equipped with middle of the range lenses or above. In order to produce reliably sharp images the most important feature of the camera (and camera lens combo) is the accuracy of its auto focus system to produce correctly focused images. For wildlife photography you will also want the speed of the auto focus system to be as fast as possible. It must also have a manual focus option which you will use only occasionally but will be essential in particular circumstances.

The quality of lens is an important factor in your work towards a sharp image, never skimp on lenses always go for the best you can afford even if it means getting a lower grade camera. You can always get a higher grade camera in the future but (above a certain base level of camera) your images will benefit more for each £ you spend on a lens than the camera. It may also be worth thinking about limiting the number of lenses you have and pooling your cash into 2 or 3 really good lenses rather than 4 or 5 not so good lenses. Prime lenses (i.e. those of a non variable focal length) will almost always produce better images than zoom lenses. That’s not to say you should only have prime lenses in your bag, the zoom facility is extremely useful in practice, but it is worth bearing in mind that there is a trade off in image quality. If there is an option, and you are able, always go for an image stabilisation feature (either camera or lens) it can make a big difference to the quality of your hand held or mono pod images.

It is also important to get a good stable tripod from a well known manufacturer. A good quality means of attaching your camera to the tripod is also important (eg ball head) you will want to be able to move the camera quickly and lock it into position easily and precisely when framing subjects. Most importantly you will not want the weight of the camera pulling it slowly away from your required framed shot. The heavier the camera and lens combo the more expensive the attachment system you will need to employ. With the larger telephoto lenses some sort of ball head/Wimberley side kick or full Wimberley system (or similar) is the only way to go.

Image Technical Details

The link below will take you to my Photo.net area, the gallery images contain details of equipment used, F stops, ISO and shutter speeds. Please bear in mind these images are low resolution web images, fine detail will therefore suffer.

- Link to my Photo.net area

Good Long Lens Technique


Image before I was practiced using a long lens. I can see from this that I have since improved my technique by placing my hand on top of the lens at the point of, or just in front of, the lens collar and I place my head more forcefully against the back of the camera. I also arrange the tripod so I am leaning intothe rig wherever possible and always ensure the tripod is securely bedded into the ground. I am now confident of consistently producing sharp images at shutter speeds as low as 1/60th with a top end Gitzo, full Wimberley and lens combination of 500mm L IS plus 1.4x Extender, 1.6x crop body and EF25II Extension tube a total focal length in the region of 1200mm in 35mm terms or around 24x!

I have shamelessly copied the following from the excellent Naturephotographers link below, it summarises my thoughts and experiences to date in a nut shell:

"Contrary to popular belief, the long heavy lenses are much steadier if you use your arms, hands and face as vibration dampening. These lenses are big and present a large surface for the wind to influence; additionally, when the mirror swings up prior to the shutter curtain opening, vibration is induced by the camera itself, which is then amplified by the large magnification of the big lens. To minimize this vibration, compose the image, and then place your left hand and arm on top of the lens at or near its center of gravity you will immediately see the image stabilize in the viewfinder. Push your face up against the back of the camera and hold the camera the normal way with your right hand. Tweak the focus if necessary and gently depress your index finger to take the photograph. This method uses your body to dampen vibrations in your camera/lens combination."

Other important aspects include:

The minimum shutter speed you will be able to use for a sharp image will vary but I always start with an aperture as wide open and ISO as high as I dare and then come down if I require some depth in the image or to reduce the possibility of noise, until the subject has vacated! I have been able to get sharp images as low as 1/100th with a bean bag, 1.4x Extender and 500mm lens on 1.6x crop body. Yet on other occasions, usually when I am using a tripod (subject movement aside), I have found it hard to get a sharp image below 1/400th. I currently believe there is no hard and fast rule, except that the faster the shutter speed (with ISO noise within acceptable levels) the greater the likley hood of a sharp image.

If you have IS, USE IT, it makes a big difference

If you are considering a choice between 2 lenses, one with and one without IS, for whatever personal reasons, always get the IS lens. If you can wait until you can save the extra cash to get IS I would recommend you wait. When budgeting for a first long lens, you will need to factor in the cost of a good tripod and mounting system, these don't come cheap and without it the lens will be rendered alomost useless(Gitzo, Wimberley or the like are essential above 300mm to 400mm depending on F stop of lens).

Link To - Moose Peterson on Long Lens Technique


Link To - Naturephotographers Long Lens Technique and Also Use of Extenders

Composition

Once you have mastered the basics of technical technique above you will need to concentrate on composition. Through the application of compositional rules, and when appropriate the breaking of those rules, your images will improve dramatically.

The limitations of my web page publishing abilities mean I am unable to do full justice to this vital subject and so I recommend you follow the following links:

Link To - A Superb Site With Many Excellent Links To Compositional Articles and Extracts From Numerous Books

Link To - Digital Photography School Summary Site on Composition

Exceptional Images

Once you have a good grasp of the technical aspects of photography and good compositional skills, your next step towards exceptional images will be the development of your artistic side. This is an area I am only just starting to appreciate and work on, I consider that I certainly haven’t yet produced any truly exceptional images.

I currently believe exceptional images have the following attributes:

• They are technically good (or break all the rules in a striking way!)

• They have impact i.e. cause a moving emotional response in the viewer

• Originality

• They tell a story - they say something to the viewer

• They cause the viewer to dwell on the image and return again and again


So how do you go about producing exceptional images?

At this point I can only say that my approach is to study as many great images as I can, trying to decide for myself what I think makes them great, to learn from that and try to apply it in my work in a way that reflects my interests, photographic opportunities, strengths and feelings.

For a website containing many examples of quality images I highly recommend the following links:

Link To - Onexposure, Nature Section

Link To - Onexposure, My Favourites Album