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By James Jordan

Six tips to make great photographs

In the days of film photography it was said the distance between a good photographer and a great photographer was five miles of film. That would be a lot of pictures, and that is the point.

With the advances in digital photography, it's easy to take a technically good picture. It's also easy to "settle" for a good photograph, because even with technology making it easier, it still takes a lot of effort to get a great picture. The principles of outstanding photography have not changed, even though the technical aspects have gotten a lot easier.

Here are some key tips that can help you make outstanding photographs.

Get closer

Capturing emotion makes pictures great. The closer you are, the more you will capture the emotion, even if you are taking a picture of a flower. No matter how close you are, you should probably get closer to your subject. You can get closer with a zoom lens, but still there is something about being literally close to your subject that gives a photo a feeling of intimacy.

Learn to see

Much of photography is being able to "see" the finished photograph when you shoot it. Take time to study your subject carefully. Over time you will start to get an eye for what you are trying to shoot. Think about what is making the photo you want to shoot interesting. What do you see that you want others to see in your picture? Study how light and shadows interact. In photography light and shadows are always magnified.

Lots of pictures

This pertains to the five miles of film mentioned earlier. Professional photographers at major sporting events shoot a thousand or more pictures of a single game. If they get three or four excellent pictures, they feel they've had a good day. The difference of a tenth of a second, or standing two feet to the left, can make a difference you cannot see with the naked eye. You may have a lot of good photos, but there will most likely be one that stands out.


Learn everything there is to know about your camera. Try all the settings and get comfortable with them. After that, you can try a lot of different things. Study the owner's manual carefully to learn what your camera can do, then you can start experimenting with different ways to use those features.

Keep it simple

Invest in books and time, studying light instead of buying a lot of accessories. Add gadgets to your gear only when you are sure you really need them. Keep focused on the camera and the photos. If you have too much gear to keep up with, it can become a distraction.

Fail boldly

Shoot a lot of pictures from a lot of angles. Don't be afraid of making mistakes. If you are shooting something you often shoot, do it from a place you would not normally try. Climb on top of things, or lie on the ground. If your pictures don't work out, it won't matter. But you may just discover something in all those mistakes that will take your photography to another level.

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