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My dog with three feet off the ground

35 Intermediate Photography Tips & Tricks

I finished an intermediate photography course and I wish I could say I understood everything and am able to fully apply all I’ve been taught. But unfortunately learning how to compose a great shot and get it right takes time and a tremendous time and number of shots.

For example – in one intermediate photography class we had to bring in a photo of motion. Some people took in excess of 400 shots before they got the one they wanted. I didn’t have much time and tried to work with my lazy dog – see photo below. One guy took hours filling up balloons with water, then pricking them and catching the water exploding out. Brilliant idea but it took a lot of patience to get the one perfect shot.

Intermediate photography and trying to learn to capture motion
My dog with three feet off the ground

I still have plenty to digest but I did want to share these useful intermediate photography tips and facts I learned in my course.

In Canada, the term of the copyright is from the time the photo was taken until the remainder of the year you die, plus 50 years. That’s not too much of a problem unless you’re photographs are really worth something.

An ultraviolet filter will cause a loss of 3% sharpness. That has to be weighed against the fact it acts as an excellent lens protector.

A polarizing filter reduces glare and saturates colours. But you lose the equivalent of two f-stops. To use the filter turn it 90 degrees to the light source. This is a GREAT filter on bright, sunny days.

A neutral density filter is useful for slowing the shutter speeds or opening the aperture. It’s used to achieve motion blur effects with slow shutter speeds.

A graduated neutral density filter is the next must have piece of equipment for me. It deepens the exposure of the sky while providing regular exposure for the land. It’s an especially great tool for mountain shots.

Intermediate photography tips would suggest a graduated neutral density filter for this shot which is over exposed on top
A graduated neutral density filter would have come in handy for this shot which is over exposed on top

A prime lens will always give you a clearer picture than a zoom lens but you’re stuck with that focal length.

Rent a lens before buying it to see if it’s what you really want. Often the rental fee will be applied to the lens purchase. A reputable US company to buy used equipment from is KEH.

Shots that are pleasing to the eye have some of the following characteristics

When composing a shot with people in it, try to have the subject doing something. Also help set the location. For example, we would all know someone was in England if there was a red phone box in the photo.

Use the rule of thirds for positioning your subject – and ideally place them on the intersection of horizontal and vertical lines.

Use geometry in your images – things like triangles or spirals. And if you shoot three or more people try to set them up in a triangle.

Give some place for your subject to move. If the photo is of people walking allow them room to continue walking in the photo.

A waterfall photo is even more powerful if you capture where the water’s coming from.

Frame your photo. A classic is a branch in a landscape shot.

If you want to slim someone down, don’t use a wide angle lens.

Change your perspective.

Leading lines
Don’t cut off a part of the trail – and let the viewer wonder where it leads

Use manual focus at night, with a macro lens and when shooting fast moving sporting events.

Heading off on a trip and want to know exactly the angle of the sun. Then check out the sun angle tool.

Use your flash to fill in shadow on a sunny day.

A spot meter is good for portraits. Take a reading on the subject’s eye.

When taking a photo of anything live, make sure you get the catch lights – the reflections in the eye – or else they look flat or dead.

Check out the reflections in my eyes - ignore harsh lighting from below
Check out the reflections in my eyes – ignore harsh lighting from below

Intermediate photography tips when taking pictures of people 

Establish a rapport first. Ask them what they would like to accent or diminish.

Watch your backgrounds and make especially sure your subject’s head isn’t growing a lamp post or a tree.

Light from higher up gets rid of shadows.

The worst flash is one that hits the subject straight on.

Beware the range of your flash. Most are only fifteen feet.

Tips if you’re in a studio type setting 

If a person has a narrow chin, have them tilt their chin up.

Minimize the effects of an angular nose by turning the subject’s face towards the lens.

If someone has protruding eyes get them to look downward.

Consider a profile shot if someone has prominent ears. Hide the far ear and keep the near ear in shadow.

For heavy set people use short lighting, dark clothing and a dark background.

Avoid shining a light on the top of a bald subject’s head. Lower the camera position and work to blend the top of the head in with background tones.

For a wrinkled face use diffused light. Lower the main light.

HDR (High dynamic range) photography is gaining popularity.

Use a tripod for these shots.

Take three to six pictures with different exposures. It’s best to bracket your shots.

Try out free software for two weeks from Photomatix.

A few interesting facts that show how far we’ve come in a short time

The first 35mm still camera was developed in 1913 – 1914. It was in 1984 that Canon demonstrated the first digital electronic still camera and in 1990 that we started storing photos on CD’s. You have to wonder what the next decade will bring.

Further reading about great places I’ve been with my camera

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

35 super useful photography tips

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Thanks for the tips Leigh. I’ll be looking for one of those graduated neutral density filters I think! I also need to learn more about white balance and spot metering. So much to learn!

  2. Great tips, Leigh! Some are really way over my head (the lenses :)), but I have been trying to get better about framing, etc., so they are really useful for me!

  3. @Sabrina It’s all about the slow and steady accumulation of knowledge combined with practice – and a few years from now we’ll all be better photographers. Taking the time to compose the shot is huge.

  4. Hello Leigh! Amazing tips! I’ve been trying to find sources for useful information about photography that “speak plain English” and I think I have found me the right place!
    Thank you for sharing,
    Patty Delto

  5. Very helpful tips about photography. Thanks for sharing it. Your tips are increasing my interest on photography. Gorgeous shots here! Keep clicking..

  6. Here’s the best advice I can give you…

    Your course has just given you a great foundation of knowledge – you may think that some of it has gone over your head or you’re not sure how to apply it, but when you consistently get out and shoot stuff, you’ll be surprised at how much of the info has been retained and how quickly yuor photography improves,

    So make sure you get out and shoot stuff (with your camera)…

  7. Thanks for all the great photography tips, I’m the definition of an amateur, but always looking to improve. I do love my prime lenses, I always get the best shots with them, but for walking around, you really need the versatility of a zoom lens.

  8. I think some of the most important tips are ~~SLOW DOWN~~ Think think!!& #2 is always ~~always use a TRIPOD/ MONOPOD!!!!!!!!!! great improvement in photo quality almost instantly!! Third tip~ read everything, take as many courses as you can. But above all of these have as much fun as you legally can with your camera. Shoot shoot & more shooting!

  9. Hello Hike Bike Travel,
    I hope you would fine, Well I checked out this post & I’m really happy to find it. I love the way where you made deep explain but I would like to ask one question ! I love photography but how go I click best picture in night mode without flash ?

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