It's easy to take a sharp picture,and  just as easy to take a decent one. However, there are lot of hard drives filled with acceptable but mundane images. With a little thought and imagination, you can turn the forgettable into something memorable, unusual or different.

There's nothing wrong with the photo on the right, but it is very one dimensional. And iI's not angular. There's nothing linear pointing towards a focal point. There's also a lot of blue and beige, and there's no real sense of texture. It's too staid and old fashioned. Although there's cars and buses in the shot they appear still, there's no real sense of movement.

There's lofts of things you can do to take better pictures. Here's several ideas you might like to consider.

The image to the left was taken by tilting the camera diagonally to get the whole of the building into the frame, and also to create a focal point in the bottom right of the picture to give a more interesting picture.

The lampost frames a central channel running diagonally taking the eye to the bottom left of the image, and the sky fades the lower down the picture we go.

You can see the rear of the bulding in the photograph above along the right edge of the picture, whilst the angle of the wall in the left hand side makes the building look taller.

Changing the angle at which we photograph something can often produce a much more dramatic end result.

The tree in the photo on the left has been slanted in a similar way to give a dramatic effect to the image. Notice that the roof of the building now slants in the oppsite direction to add an interesting contrast to the image. If I'd cropped the top of the tree off it would have lost the focal point which is the actual point of the tree itself,


The picture to the right is interesting for several reasons. Firstly, the pots have been arranged by the Garden Centre to form an eye catching display. Secondly, there's several different textures visible. The smooth shiny glazed rings on the outside of the pots contrast with the rougher interior of the pot, and the even rougher bottom of the pot. The textures are highlighted by the sunlight and shadows reflcted by the pots.

Textures give the viewer a feel for the picture. Nature often shows off it's textures in photographs. You can almost feel the twigs and pine cones crunching underfoot as you walk on them. Greens and browns convey a feeling of nature to the image in question.

A walk in the woods, or even the leaves in your garden if skillfully photographed will provide a good feeling of texture, The closer the lens is to the subject, the greater the sense of texture is. It could be the spikes and knobbly surface of a prickly cactus, or the blades of grass gently swaying in the breeze.

When you're out walking the dog in the woods or the park, take your camera. The fallen branch from a tree, or even a rusty can on a field, if photographed right can make everyday items look stunning.

The image on the left was taken on a trip to the woods. The camera was angled up to enhance the height of the trees, but not too high, so as to keep an impression of depth to the photograph. Despite appearances it was not taken on a misty morning, but on a sunny autumn afternoon. No filters were used to create the 'mist', instead I used a simple but efective technique anyone can use.

The effect was achieved by simply breathing on the lens and quickly taking the shot. The resulting condensation created the image and evaporated away in 30 seconds, leaving the camera in it's normal state. Care must be taken not to breathe too much on the lens as you don't want condensation getting inside it.

The photo on the left is interesting for several reasons. As well as revealing the textures of the pots, there's some nice colours as well. But there's two more interesting standout 'Features' in the photograph.

The first stand out feature is what I call the 'Ripley's' effect. I know it's it's actually a complete fountain, but anyone viewing it for the first time will see four buckets perched on top of one another that could topple over at any moment. You might say, 'That's clever, arranging the buckets like that!' And as I pointed out with the third picture above, the angle this photo was taken at makes the pots appear even more precariously balanced.  Hence the term 'Ripleys.' Many commercial advertising shot's of incredible events are taken from an angle that disguises the truth, to give an air of impossibility.

The next feature is the ability to freeze a moment in time. Look at the water pouring out of the pots. It looks razor sharp and crystal clear The only way you can tell it's not frozen is that  real ice is cloudy. The movement has almost been frozen. The ability to do this is one of the strengths of modern digicams. Auto mode will usually select a speed fast enough to 'Freeze' water mid motion. It's  not just water that can be 'Frozen', but any motion. For example, some cameras have a spcial mode that can take a shot from a high viewpoint and minaturise the final image by in camera processing. Images of people taken this way also have that 'Frozen in time'  look,  as does any shot of a moving target captured sharply with a blurred background.

This image is composed of several prominent buildings and a high speed ferry in the bottom left of the image.The differeing colours of the buildings make for an interesting photograph. The majority of the buildings and the ferry are ultra modern giving the image a modern look. The circular bulding in the centre of the picture makes an unusual contrast with surrounding buildings. it's actually shaped like the bow of a ship, whilst the ships bow has a section that is pointed black, and gives the ship a more modern feel.

Depth of field is defined as the distance an image stays in focus. When most of the image is sharp it's called a wide or a large depth of field. Where only the front of the image is sharp it's called a 'Shallow' or 'Narrow' depth of field. To illustrate this concept, the photo on the left was taken specifically for this article.

You'll notice that the remote control is sharp at the front of the image and gradually blurs the further along the remote you get. It creates a really deep effect. Owners of cameras with manual mode can set the aperature to create the effect, but if you've only got a basic point and shoot then you can do it the way I achieved the effect, using macro mode. Don't get too close, or too much of the image will be sharp and you'll loose the effect. Similarly, if you're too far away then too much of the image will be blurred. Depth of field is often used in landscape photography where the greenery at the front is blurred and the rest of the image is sharp, giving a fake 3d effect, or in food photography, where, for example, the cake is in focus and the background is blurred.

Flowers are best photographed in close up to showcase their frailty. A normal landscape or wide setting will produce a blurred image if filmed from too close. A typical point and shoot camera will blur an image if the lens is closer than 20 cms to the image. A Macro mode is commen to all modern cameras, and usually allows you to get as close as 5 cms on most cameras. Some have a 'Super Macro' mode to get you as close as 1cm.

Macro mode also gives a good impression of depth of field. look at the picture on the right. The flower is perfectly in focus and the background blurred.

This photograph showcases the fragility of the subject perfectly The whisper thin stamens help to make the flower look even more fragile.

It takes practice to get macro mode right, but the rewards look amazing. The shallow depth of field in the photograph helps the flower to stand out from the background.

The picture also conforms to the 'Rule of thirds', in which the image can be divided neatly into 'Thirds'. The stem is the bottom third, the bloom is middle third, and the space at the top is the top third. The rule of thirds is a compositional guidline that photographers use, in which an image is divided into three. If your camera has a display setting that puts a grid on the LCD screen to help you compose shots better, it's usually divided into 9 squares, three horizontal rows, and three vertical rows, sticking to tthe rule..There's a useful Wikipedia guide to the practice here.

As I stated earlier, contrasts help to make a picture stand out. It could be old and new, sharp and blurred, long and short, young and old, or a whole host of cobminations. In this example I've chosen light and dark. Proper use of shadows can dramatically enhance a picture, especially portraits, but I've chosen a stained glass window. Whilst the light illuminates the window, keeping the surrounding dark enhances the artwork in the glass, making it stand out more.

I could use software to bring out the deatail of the walls surrounding the window, but it lessens the effect. The vibrant colours of the centuries old glass stands out. One problem encountered when photographing stained glass from indoors is that the light bleeds and appears as overblown highlights. It can be easilly corrected in your image editor by lowering the highlights.

Sometimes a photograph has nothing wrong with it, but doesn't have the impact it should. There's often something distracting us from the main focus of the image. In trying to capture the whole of the leaves of the flower on the right, other flowers and foliage distract from the main flower.

Cropping the image closer to the flower focuses soley on the flower itself, yet the leaves still retain a strong sense of the shape they produce in the original image, but without the distractions of the other flowers and excess foliage. Crops may loose, like the image on the right, or tight up to the subject.

There's no hard and fast rule about how to crop an image, it may be a centre crop like this one, or you could crop in compliance with he Rule of Thirds, or even crop loosely, or tight. Often it's just removing an unwanted part of the picture, like Uncle Fred's arm sticking out or half of Aunty Jean, to simply tidy up an image.

Some scenes are almost crying out to be photographed in  black and white or sepia. This French street cafe was one such moment. The only thing missing from the picture is the Gauloises!

Most modern cameras have a monochrome mode, and many have a sepia mode as well. Black and white is great for showcasing the crispness or clarity of an image, and to give it a moody effect. I chose sepia for this scene because I wanted to recreate the look of an old photograph.

If your camera won't do b/w, or even if it will but won't do sepia, don't worry. Windows Live Photo Gallery has a set of filters that will turn colour images into monochrome, sepia or add a cloured tint.

 Finally, there's more than b/w filters you can add. Some cameras add coloured filters to the images you take in camera post capture. My daughter took this image on holiday with her 8 megapixel Pentax. There's nothing special about it. She accidentaly found the edit menu and added a filter to it.

It was purely by coincidence that the filters she chose mimicked a a compact film camera from the 70's. The bottom left image added a red filter to the image, mimicking light bleeding into the camera. The bottom right image looks like like the kind of images my dad's old camera took, right down to the softness of the picture, It's the kind of effect magazines use if they want to recreate the look and feel of the 60's or  70's for a photo shoot, or if TV & film companies are faking photographs for ons creen use. If your camers can apply filters try diferent colours to see what works best. Different filters work better than others depending on the main image colour.

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