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Practical Photography Skills

Updated on January 23, 2016

Practical tips for better digital photos

The first thing you should do after buying your first DSLR is read the manual! Yes, I know it sounds like the obvious thing to do, but many people just don't take the time to read manuals. DSLRs however, are quite complex instruments and the only way to understand how they work and what the functions of your specific model are and how to use the different settings and menu options, is to read the manual. In some cases however, especially if you are a complete newbie to DSLR photography, the manual can be very confusing. A good option is to get a companion for your specific camera model. As I found out when I bought my Nikon D90, companions are generally friendlier than manuals, written in plain english and most importantly, apart from explaining your camera to you in a way that is easy to understand, they will also tell you exactly what to do in order to shoot great photos with your camera, not just any DSLR.

The next thing to do if you are a beginner to digital SLR photography is to find and read a good, comprehensive begginner's guide to DSLR photography. Here, you will learn important things about DSLR cameras and DSLR photography, such as:

- How to hold your camera for really sharp pictures

- How to compose great looking pictures

- How to focus in a variety of situations

- How to understand light and how to control it through shutter speed and aperture settings

- How and when to use flash (and when not to)

- How to use ISO

- How to capture movement in your pictures

- How to shoot portraits, animals, sports, landscapes, flowers

- How to control exposure

- How to avoid mistakes that will ruin a picture or necessitate long hours of editing afterwards

Photo credit: postbit

Nikon D3100 For Dummies
Nikon D3100 For Dummies

Get to know your Nikon 3100


Hands On!

This page is in no way intended as a substitute for a good beginners' guide to digital SLR photography. So, assuming that you have done, or are in the process of doing what I have just suggested to you, i.e. reading your camera's manual, getting a good companion and finding a comprehensive guide to DSLR photography, here are some of my favorite tips for great pictures

Tips for sharp, well focused pictures

- Hold your camera with your arms at the side of your body, elbows tightly tucked in

- Do not try to control camera shake by holding your breath when pressing the shutter button. Instead, exhale slowly while pressing the button.

- Use a tripod whenever possible or lean on something, or position your camera on something (e.g. a wall, window sill) in order to steady it.

- Use the best natural light available.

- Avoid increasing your ISO, even in dim light. Try using a tripod and lower shutter speed instead.

52mm Essential Accessory Kit for Nikon DSLR Bundle with Vivitar Wide Angle Lens and Telephoto Lens
52mm Essential Accessory Kit for Nikon DSLR Bundle with Vivitar Wide Angle Lens and Telephoto Lens

A set of filters, basic lenses and cleaning tools for most Nikon DSLR cameras


Camera kits and accessories - Most useful kits and accessories for DSLRs

Shoot tight

Especially when shooting portraits, try to get as close to your subject as possible. Don't be afraid to crop off the top or bottom (or ears!) of a person's head. It makes the picture more focused and interesting.


Use unusual angles

Don't get into the habbit of sooting everything standing up or sitting down. Shooting from a higher or lower point in relation to your subject, gives you a more interesting angle and makes your picture look less ordinary. Especially when shooting children or animals, it is best to get on the same eye-level, even if it means kneling or lying down flat. The same applies when shooting flowers.

Photo credit: gypsychics photography

DSLR top lenses - One of the great joys of owning a DSLR is changing lenses!


top rated lens for fisheye and macro shots with Canon EOS cameras

Nikon D3000 DSLR 6 Piece Bundle with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S & 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED AF-S Nikkor Zoom Lenses
Nikon D3000 DSLR 6 Piece Bundle with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S & 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED AF-S Nikkor Zoom Lenses

This is an excellent buy for Nikon cameras with two top rated all purpose lenses, 2 DVDs, 8MB memory card and bag


Itching to try something different but short of money?

Feeling like you want to experiment with macro photography but can't afford an expensive macro lens? Use a screw-on close-up lense instead. These lenses are quite cheap, small and light and they screw on at the end of your normal zoom lens. Although you may not get exactly the same results as you would with a true macro lens, they are a very good substitute and if you decide you really want to pursue this kind of photography further, you can always buy a real macro lens later on.

Photo credit:

PLR Optics 4PC LENS-63 52mm +1 +2 +4 +10 Close-Up Macro Filter Set with Pouch
PLR Optics 4PC LENS-63 52mm +1 +2 +4 +10 Close-Up Macro Filter Set with Pouch

Close up filters are a very good cheap alternative to macro filters. These will fit most Nikon cameras


DSLR lens filters - Filters can make a world of difference to your digital pictures

Or maybe you can afford a real macro lens? - Then by all means buy yourself a top rated macro lens

Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens
Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens

Top rated Nikon macro lens for Nikon cameras


Shooting moving water

How do you capture the movement of water in your picture? Depending on wether you want to freeze movement, e.g. capture flying wave droplets of surf spray in mid-air, or are after the silky feeling of moving water, e.g a waterfall, either use a very fast shutter speed, or a really slow one (one or two seconds). In the latter case, you will want to shoot in low light and use a tripod.

Photo credit:

Shooting sports

Use shutter priority and fast shutter speed with continuous drive. Hopefully, one of the multiple action pictures taken, will be a winner.

© 2011 Aquamarine18

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    • deforst profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks for the tips! And yes I did read the manual for my other half on the other hand...well...he asks me how to use it! lol..

    • pauly99 lm profile image

      pauly99 lm 

      5 years ago

      Photography. What a fun skill to have. I used to be a point and shoot kinda guy until I learned about ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.... not to mention the rule of thirds.

    • ColorPetGifts profile image


      5 years ago

      Thank-you for the great tips for taking pictures - image is everything! :)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I really want a more professional camera! I've been using a Canon lately that belongs to our quilt guild...going back to my old Easy Share I realize just how bad it is.

    • Bill Armstrong profile image

      Bill Armstrong 

      5 years ago from Valencia, California

      Nice info, I got my Nikon D3100 lovely camera and so easy to use


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