In this article, I’m going to give you some quick tips on three ways that you can improve the overall quality of your images.
NOTE: None of these things require you to buy more gear!
- Get the correct exposure in the camera
- Get the sharpest images possible
- Become a master of the light
#1 – Correct exposure
The first thing you can do to increase your image quality is to learn about exposure, and how to get the correct exposure in the camera. Images that are under or overexposed will suffer quality issues like blown-out highlights or excessive noise.
So, learn about the exposure triangle, how to use the histogram, and which shooting mode and settings to use in each situation you encounter.
For help on this topic read the following:
- Why is the snow gray in my winter photos? (all about the histogram)
- Camera Modes – Do Real Photographers Only Shoot in Manual Mode?
- Exposure Versus Metering Modes – What Are They, How To Use Them?
#2 – Sharpness
The next thing I see many beginners and intermediate photographers alike struggle with – is how to get tack-sharp images.
There are many factors that can affect sharpness or lack thereof, including:
- A low-quality or faulty lens (or one that needs maintenance)
- The wrong shutter speed
- Choosing the wrong focus mode
- Camera shake
- Not holding the camera correctly
- Not using a tripod
So ask yourself the following questions.
Is my gear all working correctly, or does it need to be cleaned or repaired?
Am I holding my camera correctly to provide it maximum support?
Do I avoid using a tripod because it’s more work, it’s too heavy, or I don’t have one?
Do I use the minimum shutter speed, and am I sure what it should be?
Don’t be the lazy photographer that leaves the tripod at home and shoots ISO 12,000 instead or attempts to get sharp images in low light.
This point is about two things – learning about your camera and which settings to use in different situations. And having and using the right gear.
That doesn’t mean it has to be expensive, just the right gear for the job at hand. For example, you absolutely must have and use a tripod for night photography.
For more help on sharpness read the following articles:
- How to Get Sharper Photos – 6 Essential Settings You Need to Know
- How to Blur Photos or Freeze Motion Using Shutter Speed
- How to Overcome Your Fear of High ISO and Take Sharper Photos
- Be One With Your Tripod – Photography Challenge
#3 – Master the light
In photography light is everything!
My students and tour members have often asked me what am I attracted to or look for when I take an image. For me, it is all about the light first and foremost.
There could be a really interesting subject but if the light isn’t conducive to making a good photo, I usually never even take a single frame. Or if the light isn’t flattering or add to the storytelling of the scene, likewise I don’t get the shot.
Instead, I am attracted to and stopped in my tracks by light. That might be a long shadow on the ground, backlighting, or even light on an interesting background.
Then I will wait until a subject enters the scene. So I find the light first – then the subject inside that light.
To master light, you need to become more aware of it, more observant. Look at light everywhere you go, every day. See how it changes as you move around the scene or in a room. Notice how it falls on the subject and what happens if you walk around the subject 360 degrees.
So, to make better photos you need to become a master of light and how to use it to your advantage.
Read more here:
- What is Quality of Light and How to Use it to Take Better Photos
- 5 Tips for Using Shadows to Create Dramatic Images
- Learn Flash Photography Challenge – Stay Home Project
- 4 Tips for Creating Depth and Dimension in Your Images
I hope these quick tips have gotten you thinking about how you do photography. Do you see any areas for improvement based on the items mentioned here? If so, you know where to focus your efforts now!
If you want to get SEVEN MORE tips for making higher-quality images, check out my course:
Students of the course have rated it 4.8 stars (out of 5)!
Excellent program. Practical, clear. Well-taught. Concepts are explained with good analogies. This is an excellent starting place for new photographers. Some material is too basic for experienced photographers, but there are nuggets of helpful information/good reminders even for advanced photographers.– Clarke Cochran 4 stars
I learned a great deal of practical information as well as some deeper dives into the technical aspects of photography. Darlene is one of the best instructors I have ever had. I enjoyed how she related image quality issues to the actual setup routine in my camera.
– Dennis Falkenstein 5 stars