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10 Awesome Photography Tips for Beginners

Digital photography has democratized the medium. More people are taking more photos than ever before, and they’re sharing them online with friends and family in record numbers. It’s easy to place the blame on the camera if your images aren’t as nice as some others you see online, but by following a few guidelines you can improve the quality of your photos—without having to shell out big bucks for a new camera. Keep these 10 easy tips in mind next time you head out to capture the world around you. And if you have any tips that have helped you take better pictures, please share them in the comments section.

1. Get Basic Composition Down. The heart of a photograph is its composition—the position of different elements in a frame. The easiest rule of thumb to learn and remember is the Rule of Thirds. Basically, you’ll want to break your frame into nine squares of roughly equal size. Try and align the subject of your photo along these lines and intersections and imagine the main image divided over these nine boxes. This gives you a more dramatic, visually interesting shot than one where you subject is located dead center. Many newer cameras have a rule of thirds grid overlay that you can activate when shooting.

2. Adjust Exposure Compensation. As long as you aren’t shooting in full manual mode, your digital camera is making decisions that determine the exposure of a photo—in English, how light or dark the shot appears. Generally speaking, a camera looks at a scene and tries to determine the appropriate exposure based on the correct lighting of an 18-percent gray card, which is why there are special scene modes for snow—without them, the camera would try to make the white snow gray.

If a photo is too light or dark you can either delve through the dozens of scene modes that are available in modern point-and-shoot cameras, or simply dial in a bit of exposure compensation. Many cameras have a physical button for this, identified by a +/- symbol. If your photo is too dark, move the scale up above zero; if too light, move it down a bit.

3. Choose the Right Mode.

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