1. There are two times during the day that provide the optimal amount and type of sunlight for photos: the Golden Hour and the Magic Hour. The Golden Hour is ½ an hour before and ½ an hour after dawn. The Magic Hour is ½ an hour before dusk. The light that is present during these times can make all the difference in the quality of your photos.
2. Abide by the Rule of Thirds. This rule, in essence, keeps you from centering your subject in the frame, which tends to create a weak photo. Instead, imagine a grid across your lens with two horizontal and two vertical lines that create 9 squares of equal sizes (think tic-tac-toe). Try to shoot your main subject so that it is along the grid lines or where they intersect. Just this slight adjustment in placement will help to create a stronger image.
3. Dealing with low light in your location? Use a tripod to help ensure sharper images. Low light requires the shutter to stay open longer to let the light in and expose the shot. This magnifies every shaky movement of your hand, resulting in the dreaded blurry photo.
4. For depth’s sake, make sure your pictures have a foreground, a middle ground, and a background. For example, if shooting a photo of a bison meandering across the road in a park, the bison is in the foreground, the grassy area around him is the middle ground, the mountain range behind him is the background. A viewer will sense depth in a photo that has these three elements.
5. Don’t center the horizon in your photo. Focus instead on what’s above or below the horizon.
6. Let your photo speak volumes about the size of something or someone in the shot. To do this, make sure you have objects of contrasting sizes in your photo so the viewer can get a sense of just how massive or tiny your subject is.
7. Photos looking a little dull? Use a filter to add richness to your colors and tones. Haze filters provide more contrast in photos; polarizers reduce reflections and create richer blues in the sky.
8. So you go to a location hoping to get a shot of a beautifully sunny day in the mountains. But a storm has rolled in and now you’re thinking of just foregoing the photo shoot. Don’t give up just yet! Use the ever-changing atmosphere to your advantage in this case. Clouds, rain, fog, and other undesirable conditions can actually create captivating, mysterious backdrops for stunning photos.
9. Want to take photos that capture a wider view of the beautiful landscape around you? Use a wide-angle lens to achieve this. A wide-angle lens is able to capture amazingly unique photos that make you feel a part of the scene. But while they can enhance perspective, they can also distort the view. Practice taking the same photo with a longer lens vs. a wider lens to see what kind of shots you are getting with your wide-angle lens. As with everything, practice makes perfect!
10. Include locals in your pictures to add an element of exotic mystery that draws a viewer in. Nothing helps capture the character of a destination more than photos of local people doing what they do.
11. And last but not least, read your camera’s manual! To be able to use your camera to its full potential, you have to know what it’s capable of. Instead of trying to tackle the entire manual in one sitting, read only the parts you’re interested in and going to use right away. Then look up other information as it’s needed. It’s not a novel, so don’t try to read it like one.