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How to take a great photo #photography

I am admin of the Sandwell Pride of Place Project Group on Facebook and over the weekend there was some interest in the photography competition that will be part of the Blast Photography festival. So today, I thought I would give you a few tips on how to take a great photo for a competition or a print.

take a great photo

How to take a great photo

This is a photo I had printed as an art card and with a print run of a 1,000, I needed the image just right. When you take a photo, you’re trying to capture the light reflected off your subject. My subject, in this case, was the pub on the left and I took the photo just as the sun was setting. Getting your focus point in the right place is important. I shot this with a DSLR and my focus point was on the pub. I shot it at f/9 which gave me a shutter speed of 1/250 (ISO 100).  Any camera shake or movement was frozen by that fast shutter speed. The f/9 aperture gave me a deep depth of field and got the whole image in focus. Choosing to shoot close to sunset gave me a good light and a lot of light. Look at the composition of the shot. We have a lot going on and the eye compares the things in the foreground to the church in the background. The street goes away from us giving a sense of depth to the image too. Some people said the cars spoiled the image but in 20 years time when everyone is driving futuristic cars, this image will have some nostalgia value. Just giving some thought to focusing and composition will help you to take a great photo.


Can you take a similar image with a smartphone? I think you can take a great photo with a smart phone but you have to consider the same things. You have to think about composition and try to get some depth to your image. Positioning your focus point on something in the middle ground will probably help to give you a clearer image. Most important with a smartphone is to try to keep the phone still as you take the shot. I can use the volume control on the side of my phone which is better than tapping the screen. Some phones have a very sensitive screen and so touching the screen might be fine.  Remember that they are designed with selfies and portraiture in mind more than landscape photography. They can be used for landscapes and I can take a great photo with mine. Mine also has an auto mode and a mode that allows me to change settings like white balance for a better picture. It’s worth checking to see what your smartphone camera is actually capable of.


I usually shoot on aperture priority with my DSLR and for landscapes, I choose a narrow aperture. If you’re shooting with a bridge camera then you might have to shoot on auto, in which case the camera will set the aperture. The camera will set the aperture wider if you focus on something close to the camera and narrow if you focus in the distance. Focus in the middle ground and you should get a deeper depth of field and the whole image in focus. Hold the camera very still and steady yourself especially if the light isn’t very good.

Giving your image form

In my image, you can see that the light is coming from the right side of the camera. I’m shooting south and the sun is starting to set in the west. The difference between the surfaces lit by the sun and those in shadow give the buildings form. I should also mention metering. I use matrix metering for landscapes but occasionally centre weighted can get the exposure better if your subject is very light or very dark.

That’s all for today, regular readers will know I’m a day early with the photography post. I have a hospital appointment tomorrow. I hope my tips help you to take a great photo. If you would like to subscribe to my blog just enter your email address at the top of the sidebar (desktop site).  I’ll end with a few images taken with my Nikon D3200.

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