Tips, tricks and techniques for getting a good shot.
Don't just read through troves of poorly worded photography tips and expect to learn how to take good photos.
Practice, practice, practice - carry the camera with you as much as possible, and click pictures.
Learn the relationship between the shutter speed, aperture and ISO and get out of auto mode as long as your camera allows it. If you want to challenge yourself, shoot in fully manual mode.
Stop worrying about the equipment you have, the only piece of gear that will guarantee you great pictures, is your imagination.
Review - Every day (or at least once a week) spend time reviewing the photos you have taken. Critique them yourself and think about what you could / should have done differently
Run out after the rain and get some nice reflection shots. Ideal if the wind has died down as well.
As long as your camera allows it, shoot RAW. The image is not compressed by the camera and you can fully control the post processing. If you can't shoot RAW, shoot in the biggest size mode and best quality mode.
This is the most important one - try to learn to understand light. That will help you to pick up the best expusure settings.
Learn about f stops and how depth of field works makes some boring images become great.
Generally, when taking pictures of people the eyes must be in focus. Then you can do whatever you want with the rest.
Learn from the gurus - Find a photographer who you admire (could be one of the greats, or some random guy on flickr) and try and replicate their shots. This is a tricky one though since you don't want to just end up as a copy cat, but use this process as a stepping stone to your own style.
Having multiple memory cards can be a good idea, especially while travelling. Keep your eggs in a few different baskets.
Remember that as few as 10 megapixels is plenty for printing at A3 using online photo-printing services. Don't get tricked into buying the camera with the most megapixels, they're often crammed into tiny sensors and wont get anywhere near as nice shots as a quality camera with fewer megapixels.
Get dirty, get creative. Make that effort to get a good angle, even if you're lying down in the rain.
When taking long exposures use the 2 second timer or a remote to reduce camera shake.
Carry your camera everywhere, no matter how mundane and short your trip is. The best camera is the one you have ready in your hands!
Get up early, stay out late. You'll achieve far more interesting results than you would at high noon when you'll spend more time controlling the light coming into your lens than you will manipulating your subjects to best exploit the shadows.
It's not the camera, it's the photographer.
When you're aiming the camera, take a deep breath, hold it until your hands stop shaking, let the camera focus, and then slowly let the breath out. Your hands will go completely still while you're exhaling and your shot should turn out pretty damn clear.
Don't be afraid to take several shots, with slightly different focal points.
Learn the rules. Then learn to break them.
When shooting portraits have your subject lean slightly toward you. This will elongate their neck and smooth out their features.
Think about your shot. Use the viewfinder to compose the picture. Make sure all of the subject fits in the frame.
If you are using flash mounted to the camera, dont aim the flash directly at what you are taking a picture of.
For every great shot there are thousands of crappy ones. Shoot lots and select only the best.
Use overcast weather and rainy weather during the day to get good lighting, color, and detail.
Overcast days are great for shooting plants and flowers.
Always bring your camera with you.
For the best photos, you should remove your lenscap.
An overcast sky is like a giant defuser and will provide you much better lighting than a clear sunny sky. If it is a bright sunny day, find some shade.
Don't feel bad about using shutter priority and aperture priority if you need to get the shot quickly.
Patience is important. If you're not willing to wait 5, 10, 15+ minutes then your probably not going to get many good photos. Shooting a tourist attraction? Wait for the herd of tourists to go away. Taking pictures at the zoo? Be willing to wait for the animals to do something interesting. Etc.
Use burst mode when shooting animals and pets to increase your chances of capturing the shot you're after.
In general, you don't need a ton of extra equipment (multiple lenses etc) to take great pictures... Better to get really used to what you have before branching out too much.
Try and plan as much as possible. It depends what you're shooting, but try and set things like aperture/exposure times to approximately what you'll need BEFORE you take the shot. That means you need to fire a few tests, first.
Make notes of what your trying to experiment with and picture numbers. Look at the pictures and note the results. Repeat until you master it.
Photograph your loved ones. Not only are they good practice, but if you have a skill to make those images, don't put it to waste.
Perspective. Have some object(s) in the front of the frame to give some perception of depth. And, of course, the rule of thirds.
If you can't afford studio lights, even out harsh contrasts when shooting with natural light by positioning a large sheet of paper or card to reflect the incoming light onto the unlit side of your subject. If shooting people, ask them to hold the card themselves outside of the framed shot. Alternatively, invest in a set of reflectors. You can pick up a new, multi-part set with white, silver and gold reflective surfaces for around $20 on eBay.
When using a filter set your the white balance on your camera to the appropriate conditions, rather than auto, to stop the camera compensating for the filter in front of the lens.
Is there anything interesting about the location (landmarks, buildings, nature, etc)? Be sure to include that.
Digital cameras allow you to instantly check the quality of your photo. Utilize this to make sure your photos are in focus, etc.
Composition of Value. The tiniest thing to me ruins otherwise flawless photos. If the picture you take doesn't keep your eye moving, or focuses on just one object, it's too boring. Split the frame into quadrants. Imagine it as a chequerboard. If there's a light area, the area next to it should balance it with black value.
Buy a light box - but don't spend more than $50
Slow down your cameras shutter speed to get nice soft waterfall/river shots. To avoid overexposure when doing this, switch out of auto and reduce your camera's sensitivity to its lowest setting (usually around ISO 100 or ISO 80). You'll likely need a tripod for this as well.
Use a wide aperture for portraits, this keeps the subject in focus while blurring the background.
If you only buy one filter make it a circular polariser. This is the perfect beginner's filter, and one that will have the biggest effect on your day to day photography, giving holiday skies a vibrant blue tone and accentuating the contrast between the sky and passing clouds to afford your images greater texture.
Polarising filters also cut through glare and reflection. Use it to shoot through windows and water.
Decide on the type of shot you want. Do you want the "focal" to be a blur? Keep your camera still. Do you (more likely) want your focal to be sharp while moving? Try and track it - follow it around with your camera. This will come with practice.
If it looks good to your eye it will look good in the camera. I'm talking mostly about lighting here, and if you wait for the right moment you won't have to use Photoshop as much.
Learn to shoot on manual. There are a ton of great videos on youtube that can help you not only learn how to change your iso, aperture, and shutter speed; but also explain how each will affect your photo and why.
The first 10,000 pictures you take will be your worst.
Get it right in camera. Its more fun to be out taking pictures than working in Photoshop.
RE lighting: Different colours and levels of light are measured using the Kelvin scale. For the best results, look for studio lights with a temperature of around 5,500K-6,000K to emulate bright daylight.
If you're doing any kind of indoor photography, invest in a cheap pair of lights. Buy at least a pair, complete with tripod stands and reflectors to direct the light. Opt for continuous light rather than flash units, as they're cheaper, easy to use and great for beginners, as you don't have to take test shots to see how the shadows fall during setup.
Unless you know what you are doing, don't frame your shot the way that your subject is in the middle of the shot. It is not natural for the eyes, google "rule of thirds" for more information.
Manual mode - At least in the beginning, very important to get out of your comfort zone and shoot in manual. Will force you to think about the technical aspects of a picture. Once you are used to it, you will probably shift to aperture / shutter priority mode most of the time.
Buy a cheap prime lens - Use it wide open, get awesome bokeh, and bingo - 'artsy' photos
Worry first about your exposure, not your color. If it helps, whenever learning anything new - shoot in black and white ONLY first. Then, once you're comfortable - add the color!
Think of what you're photographing, not of the camera settings.
For the love of all that is good and holy, take it off of "Auto"! 2. With few exceptions, do not use Flash! If it's not bright enough, use a wider aperture, and/or longer exposure.
To take a good picture, point your camera at something interesting
Give static subjects added dynamism and excitement by changing the zoom while using a slow shutter speed.
But a good tripod the first time, you will just end up waisting money if you buy a cheep one.
If you can't afford a dedicated macro mode, you can achieve the same result using an inexpensive set of add-on magnifiers.
Turn to manual focus, and make sure you know what kind of shot you want.
Change your aperture and exposure times. From this, do you want bokeh? Do you want a dramatic depth of field?
Buy the fastest memory cards you can afford to minimise the time it takes for your camera to write each shot to the media, and how long you'll have to wait before you can take the next shot. Wait too long and you'll miss something. Class 10 is the fastest.
Invest in a cheap monopod (search eBay for handheld monopod) to take selfies without your arm getting in the way. Use your camera's self-timer to fire the shutter with a delay.
You should avoid using the aperture scale to compensate for unfavourable lighting as it also changes the amount of the image that remains in focus.
For landscapes you want to have everything from close-at-hand foliage to a distant mountain in focus. This is achieved by selecting a narrow aperture. If possible stray towards f/22, or whatever the tightest setting your camera allows.
Don't EVER spend more money on more megapixels. Even if you want to make ridiculously big prints, 6-7Mpix is all you'll ever need. Megapixels aren't important. They do not refer to image quality, they refer to image size.
Before taking the picturer, ask yourself what you want to express with it. If I look at your picture and I am unable to say what the subject of your picture is, the picture is bad. On a similar note, fill your frame with your subject as much as you can. Ther is nothing worse than a picture of beach with two little persons standing in the middle of the shot.
To get awesome fireworks shots, set your shutter speed to at least 8 seconds.
Unless you know what you are doing (or unless you don't give a shit what anybody thinks), avoid macro photography. Nothing screams "AMATEUR HERE" more than poorly executed images of flowers.
Don't eat where you shit.