How Do I Take Better Pictures with my DSLR

One question we hear a lot is ‘how do I take better pictures with my SLR’? Below we’ll step trough some of the key things you can implement to make you a better photographer and get the best from your camera.

1. Learn The Basics

DSLR cameras are incredibly powerful devices. To get the best out of them it is well worth your while spending some time to understand how the theory behind what makes a good exposure. We’ve got quite a few tutorials here on the site and the best place to stat is understanding how the golden triangle of aperture, ISO and shutter speed interact to produce exposure.

5. Glass is Class

If you’ve gone out and bought yourself a nice shiny DSLR then you’re probably aware that you can easily spend twice the cost of your camera on a couple of new lenses. Generally the advice is to avoid buying your camera with the stock lens usually offered as a bundle and instead invest in a more specialist and better quality lens. The difference in quality between a stock mid range zoom lens and a L series professional lens cannot and should not be under estimated.

Prime Lenses Are Sharp

That said you do not need to spend a fortune on a professional grade lens to get really excellent quality images. For a very modest sum, we’d recommend every DSLR owner to buy a prime 50mm lens (f1.4 or f1.8). While it might seem like a backward step buying a lens with no zoom the image quality of these lenses makes them incredibly good value as you can see in the image above which was shot on the cheapest lens in Canon’s range, the f1.8 50mm.

Be sure to read our reviews of both Canons f1.8 and f1.4 50mm lenses to learn more. It really pains me to see people spend so much on a beautiful DSLR only to walk round with a poor quality stock lens on wondering why their photographs don’t live up to what they hoped for.

3. Turn the Flash Off

If you’ve started out using point and shoot cameras you’ve probably been conditioned to expect the flash to go off every time you take a photo. The reason point and shoots need flash is they have very small sensors that can’t usually get enough light to get a good exposure. DSLRs have larger sensors so can usually get enough light to get a decent exposure without having to use flash.

Off Camera Flash

Natural light will usually give much better pictures than simple on camera flash that can produce harsh, direct light. When buying new lenses consider the maximum aperture of the lens – this is the amount of light they let in. The more light they let in the less you’ll need to consider using the flash. If you really must use flash then consider using off camera flash.

4. Learn From Others

One of the best ways to improve is to learn from other photographers. I have learned to now critique photographs as i see them in newspapers and magazines where before I’d not really notice them. I’m always thinking to myself “great photo, but why is it great”. Doing this helps me think a lot about things like composition and light – some of the key factors that will help improve my own photography.

Another great way to learn from others is to join sites like flickr where there are big communities of like minded photographers sharing not only their ideas but also their tips, advice and techniques. If nothing else you can use these sites to gain inspiration to try our new styles of photography or experiment with different techniques.

5. Use Lightroom

While I’m not a massive fan of Photoshopping images I absolutely love Lightroom. I use Lightroom to essentially adjust the cameras settings after a shoot has taken place. If your white balance, exposure or sharpness are off then Lightroom lets you very quickly and easily make fixes like this during post processing. To learn more check out our top 5 Lightroom tips.


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