Welcome to the new 'Tip Of The Day' section. Every day, I'll be publishing a new tip, to help you take better photographs. They're just little hints to get you more creative.

Mon 30th Apr See it on the Big Screen.

Why view your photo's in an album or on a Tiny LCD screen? Most new cameras have a video lead to connect the camera to a TV. With many homes now boasting large screen T.V.'s of up to 60" or even higher, it's easy to to let the whole family view your photo's. Your camera should also have a slideshow setting in the payback menu. If you set this to on, just let the camera do the work for you. A time of no 2 or 3 seconds should be enough. Set the time too long and it becomes boring waiting for the photo to change.


Sun 29th Apr Scene Modes

Your new camera will come with many scene modes, but it's amazing how many users keep their camera stuck in Auto mode. Modern cameras have a scene detect Auto mode, but some have an Auto scene and an Auto mode as well. Cameras often default to plain old Auto mode. And even if you use Auto Scene it might not detect the right scene. I've seen cameras choose macro when it should be choosing another scene mode instead. THe number of Auto Scenes is alsousually a lot less than the actul number of scene modes on the camera.The best way to get it righ is to enter full scene mode and select the mode best suited to your subject.

Sat 28th April Keep Your Camera.Clean.

If you don't keep your camera clean then not only your image quality, but your camera's pefrormance and  reliability can suffer. The first thing to remember is to only use your camera with clean hands. This stops grease, dirt, dust etc ftom getting inside your camera. Keeping your hands dry stops water entering. If your camera does get dirty or greasy then a clean cotton cloth and a microfibre cloth and a few drops of water or lense cleaning fluid. Don't use rough cloths or paper. You can buy special camera cleaning kits, but it's not essential. Bridge cameras require more cleaning. And remember, Keeping your in a case keeps it cleaner. It's amazing just how much dust builds up in the average house. Cases can be bought from as little as £1.00 for small compacts. Try Tesco and the pound shops. Sun 29th

Friday 27th Apr Sunday Best.

If you've just bought a new outfit, why not get your other half or best friend to photograph you wearing it? Better still, why not dress the whole family up for a group shot? Put your best togs on and use your camera's 10 second timer option. If you've got a tripod, put the camera on it, but if not, place the camera on a table, mantlepiece, chest of drawers or sideboard, And don't forget to say 'Cheese!' By the way, when did your family last all pose together for a portrait?

Thurs 26th Apr Clear The Clutter

For a good photo, any mess or clutter needs to be removed. Clutter detracts from the image, and can spoil it. Whist a photo of your infant surrounded by a pile of toys can enhance a photograph, cups and papers littering a table looks messy. The same goes for outdoor shots. Rubish in the garden doesn't do anything to improve your images, so pick it up before you take the picture.

There is an alternative to tidying up, and that's moving your subjects somewhere that's tidy and clutter free. And on the subject of cleaning up your photograph, cigarettes and food spoil pictures too. Put your fags, burgers and sandwiches out of sight, You've seen how awful those paped celebs look with ciggies hanging from their gobs or the contents of a burger spilling out as they take a big bite. Remember, for a great photo, keep things neat and tidy.


Wed 25th April Portrait Perfect (2)

You can go one further when taking a portrait, and recreate professional portraits. If you lie your subject on a furry white or cream rug in front of a real fire or coal effect gas fire slightly to one side, and take the shot lying on the floor to be face to face with your subject and get the background blurred, it will produce a great shot. And why not use the camera's timer and make it a shot of your partner and you. An alternative angle is to shoot from above your subject lying on a white rig on a dark carpet, it looks equally as good (animal shaped rugs are good for this). And as it's a special shot, why not dress up and make your subject up? If your subject has just had a new hairdo or makeover, it's a perfect time to do this.  And if the photo is 5 megapixels or larger you can get it printed onto canvas at your photo store or supermarket and save lots of money on the prices a studio would charge you.

Tues 24th Apr Portrait Perfect (1)

Portraits are easy to take, but taking an above average portrait requires some thought. The best portraits often blur the background. Portrait mode on many cameras will soften and enhance skin tones, but might not blur the background. Try using macro mode. to achieve this. Also, keep in mind the lighting of the picture and whether or not to use a lash. If you do, use a fill in flash so as not to wash out the subject. and shoot slightly from one side so as to add some shadows to the face.

Mon 23rd Apr Pets (In memory of 'Toby' Hurst)

It's not just people that make great subjects, pets can as well. If your camera has a pet mode then why not use it to take a photo of Fido, Tiddles or Polly? And why not include your partner or friends. My friend had a piece of rope that his dog used to put in his mouth and chew. A photo of the dog pulling on the rope with your partner (or just your partner's hand if you want the main focus to be on the adog) makes for a great photo, as does one of your dog jumping up to grab a titbit. Parrots and budgies spreading their wings, or sitting on someones shoulder (or even head - if it was pooping as well it would be even better) makes another great photo. Cats stretch, mine stretches up to scratch the garden fence, or leaps off our shed roof. There's lots of possibilities, so get creative. And as pets never seem to sit still, if your camera has either a continous or a tracking autofocus, switch it on to ensure you get a  sharp shot. If not, use sports mode, which uses a faster shutter speed to ensure a sharper image.

Sun 22nd Apr Colour (2)

Just as bright colour can make a photograph, unusual colour can also make a photograph. Have you ever seen bright green flowers, or taken a photograph of a person with a bright blue face? You can buy coloured sand from craft shops to fill vases with, and small coloured stones from garden centres to put around your garden. Imagine a rose bush in a large brightly coloured planter that has bright blue stones covering the soil. Why not photograph of a field of bright yellow rapeseed? Think about how you can use colour to create a great photograph.

Sat 21st Apr Colour (1)

Bright vivid colour can make a photograph, KId's with painted faces make great subjects. And the lack of colour can also make a photograph. You've seen TV programmes and adverts using film footage with an almost black and white feel to it, where only the merest colour shows through, and they create a certain feel. You can use Windows live gallery to recreate this effect by reducing the Saturation slider. Another colour effect is where you see a black and white photo with one item  in colour. Some manufacturers (Sony is one) include a Selective Colour Filter that allows you to take pictures like this. .

Fri 20th Apr Textures

Leaves on the ground, sand, soil, water, stones, cloth, Ice and snow.......  Textures can set the tone of a photograph or give a feel to it. We know sandpaper is rough and silk is smooth, but there's lots more textures in betweeen. Good photos make use of textures to enable the viewer to visualise the feel of an image. Autum leaves let the viewer imagine the crackling of feet waling on them, and looking at a picture of a stream makes a person imagine the sound of running water or a babbling brook. Think about how you can use texture to make a differnce to your photography.

Thursday 19th Apr Water Water Everywhere!

There are many great great reaons to include water in your photographs. Narrowboats on the canal, ducks on the pond,  fountain in the garden, waterfalls, ships out to sea, sunsets on the beach, water splashing out of a glass, rain on a leaf....... There's lots of great photo opportunities that involve water. Why not get out and find some water to photograph?

Wed 18th Apr Get Gloser

There are two ways of getting closer to your subject. The first is to physically move closer to your subject. This has the advantage of better image quality as camera lenses are usually sharpest at the wide angle. That is not always possible. Suppose you saw a horse in a field and neded to get closer. Jumping the fence would be dangerous as you might get injured by the horse, so to keep safe we use the zoom lens on our camera. Superzooms, such as my 15X zoom X5 or my 30 X zoom HS20 EXR will let you zoom in much closer than a 3 or 5 X zoom model. Nikon's latest high end bridge model the P510 has an almighty 42 X zoom, the longest currently available but is expensive. Image stabilisation helps you zoom in and get clear shots without camera shake.

Tuesday 17 April Sunset Boulevard.

Sunsets are a great subject for a phbotogrraph. Wether it's the sun going down behind the clouds, the wayer reflecting over the lake or even a beach scene. But you might have noticed that the professional sunset photographs look better than yours (and mne). Fear not shooters, help is at hand from your camera. Most modern cameras have a sunset scene mode in the scene menu. This mode brings out the orange and red tones found in sunset light. Try it and see the difference it males. If you don't have a sunset mode, then if your photo editor of choice has filters or tints you can apply, use them. In Windows Live Gallery you can adjust Colour Temperature and Tint to enhance the red tones in your sunsets.

Mon 16 Apr Sunlight.

For an intersting photo, why not use sunlight to your advantage? Look at the sunlight streaming through the trees in this photo. It adds an interesting feel to an image. If you've got bushes or trees in your garden, take a shot of the sun through the trees to add a bit of flair. Use sunlight in conjunction with shadow, for example, a photo of someone half in the sun, half in the shade or get the sun flaring off the camera's lens to create a great effect. It's really easy to do, so give it a try.

Sun 15 Apr.  Get On Your Back!

Look up. Tall buildings, tall trees, statues, cranes etc all look great photographed from below. What might surprise yiou is that many great photo's were taken with the photographer lying on their backs. In order to view the LCD screen to get the best angle for the shot on the right you could contort your back, or you could make things a lot easier and less painful by lying on your back. Look at this photograph, and you'll get the idea. It just looks great. The tree looks as if it's stretching uo to touch the sky. The full grandeur of the tree is shown in all it's glory. Try it for yourself. You'll be amazed at the results it produces.!

Sat 14 Apr Twins!

Nearly all new cameras have a panorama mode. It's an easy trick to put your subject in two or three of the shots to simulate twins or triplets. If you use a camera where you line up the images yourself like Kodak then you can take your time, but if you've a Fuji, GE, Agfa or Sony they'll have to move quickly as these cameras use a sweep mode. You don't have to do it with people, how about a vase of flowers or an ornament? You'll need someone to move any objects for you.

Fri 13 April Curtains And Cardboard Boxes!

Proffessional portraits are shot in studios using a backdrop to remove distractions to allow people to focus on the subject., It's usually a pale pastel coloured one, grey, white, blue, cream or silver. If you're shooting your own portraits at home, backdrops aren't available, but you can cheat. If you have a pastel coloured curtain or sheet, then pinning it to.the wall to create a backdrop will make a convincing backdrop instead. It should ideally be crease free. Hang it on the wall,and shoot from above the hem of the curtain, unless it's floor length. Silk curtains or sheets will create a nice shimmering effect,. If you're photographing very small children, you can pin half the curtain to the wall down to the floor, and drape the rest over the floor to create a seamless backdrop and shoot from above and mimic the effect that portrait studio photographers use. Sit your kids on the floor with lots of toys, or even put a cardboard box on the makeshift bckdrop and put the child in it. Shoot from above or get on your knees fior a great shot. These are some of the techniques portrait studios use that you can copy to grat effect.

12 Apr Use A Tripod.

Every new camera comes with a tripod socket. Tripods can be bought for as little as £7.00 0n Amazon. Long zoom shots are steadier and sharper, night shots clearer and without blur.  Video's are more fluent with less camera judder, and they take the hassle out of family portraits by setting the 10 second timer and getting in the picture yourself. Modern models are lightweight enough to carry around, and most come with a carry bag to make transporting them easy. And when you use a tripod, you look like a pro.

11 April Black & White.

Some scenes just cry out to be taken in black & white or sepia. Take this street cafe, in Vernon, France, for example. By taking it in sepia it evokes memories of  those old photos of Parisien street cafes. It's not just scenes like this that look great in monochrome, old churches,looking down upon terraced houses photographed from a distance on a rainy day with the rain glistening off the rooftops, grandad dressed in his old military uniform, classic cars....... If you have a contrast setting in your camera's menu.set it to high to create a strong image. If you've already taken a colour image, then you can use Windows Live Photo Gallery to add a black & white filter to the image. If you use another image editor, that will usually have filters to do the same job for you. 

10 April Cheers!

If you're at  a party or on a night out, people around you will usually have a drink to hand. Two people smiling whilst clinking wine glasses together as in the credits of the classic TV show 'The Avengers' looks better than simply smiling, and if they pull in close it makes for a better composition. Laughing and giggling works equally as well. It's not the drink that enhances the photo, but what your friends are symbolising with it - having a good time. It's imortant that they hold the glass as if they're saying cheers or something similar. Take Tommy here, for instance. I took this at his 40th birthday bash. I'd just bought him a pint, and like the good sport he is, posed for a picture. I didn't expect the thumbs up sign or the wide grin, but this photo just shouts out the title 'Cracking pint Gromit!' doesn't it? It's unexpected moments like these that are priceless. So the next time your friends raise a glass and say 'Cheers!' make sure your camera's at the ready.

09 April Drip Drop.

You've probably seen pictures of leaves with shiny droplets of water on them. You take your pictures in the pouring rain and risk damaging your camera, or get up really early to take pictures with morning dew on them, or you could take the easy way out and cheat. That's right, I said cheat. If you're not a morning person, or someone who stands in the rain with a camera, then it's an easy trick to achieve. All you need is a glass of water and a friend. Find some nice leaves in the garden (preferably not eaten by insects) and get your freind to pour it down the leaves. Set the camera to macro mode, engage burst mode, and shoot. You could do it all yourself, but you'll probably miss catching the droplets in mid air as they fall to the ground.

08 Apr (Easter Sunday) Chocolate Smiles!

It's Easter, and no doubt the kids will be gorging on chocolate, You've seen pictures of kids with mucky faces, be it ice cream, mud, paint or even chocolate. So when your cheeky little monkeys get covered in chocalate from head to toe (including the lovely new white T-shirt they're wearing for the first time) reach for the camera instead of the Kleenex, and get them to give you their widest, toothiest grin and click the shutter button. It's the little moments like these that leave us with the memories that last a lifetime. Remember, if you're photographing other people's children, to comply with child protection laws, remember to get parental permission before you take their picture.

07 Apr Share The Moment!

Why keep your best photos to yourself? Most peopletoday  don't even bother printing their photo's, Before we had digital photography, the only way we could see our pictures was to have the film developed and printed off. A good by product of doing this was that we had a wallet of photos (or an album) we could pass round our friends to show them. If we leave our photos on our hard drives then the ability to share them with our friends is lost. It's rather awkward to have half a dozen friends crowding around a computer monitor or laptop screen to view our best photos, especially as LCD screens have a reduced viewing angle. Why not share them on Facebook, Kodak Gallery or Flickr? Facebook users can click 'Share' to automatically let friends see them online, and Kodak Gallery and Flickr users can subscibe to your photostreams, so that when you upload new photo's they recieve an email with a link so that they can view them online.

06 April Yum Yum!

Just as the smell of good food gets your gastric juices flowing, the sight of it gets my creative instincts flowing. If you create a good looking meal or buffet, why not photograph it. You've seen the supermarket magazines with the lovely pictures of food, you'll notice the food is often tack sharp and the bacground nicely blurred. This makes the food appetising and appealing. Desserts especially look really tempting, don't they? A good way to achieve this is to use your camera's Macro mode which will do this for you if done properly. Switch on macro mode and just set the zoom lens and then autofocus (Half Press the shutter) and preview on the LCD screen. If it looks good, take the shot, or if neccesary refocus and retake the shot.

05 April (Good Friday) Go Shopping! 

Shopping presents many great photo oportunities. Cabbages,cauliflowers,  shiny apples & tomatoes outside a greengrocers, rolls of fabric  on a market stall, a row of sports cars on a garage forecourt....... The possibilities are endless. Outdoor markets are great because the natural light produces much better photos than indoor ones. Just go online and search for your nearest market. Council websites are a great place to find them, just type 'Markets' into the site's search box. You never know, as well as taking some great photos, you might bag yourself some bargains as well. By the way, has anyone seen that cheap digital camera stall?

04 April Get On Yout Knees (Or Even Lower)!

To get the best photos, you need to get in the best positions. Portraits have that litlle bit of 'Je ne sais quas' if you get on your knees and take the shot looking up instead photographing of face on. Flowers look stunning in close up macro, and if you get really close to the ground then your photography looks even more stunning. These bluebells were taken from really low down, and the bright blue sky in the background gives a great contrast  to the picture. It wasn't intentional to get so low I got the sky in, but it mirrored a tip on the Kodak Tips and Projects Exchange website by renowned nature photographer Eddie Solway. You can see some of his stunning photo's by clicking on the above link. And I'll post more of my Flower pics on the Facebook page.

03 April. Say Cheese!

For as long as we've had photography, people have been saying 'Cheese' when they've been having they're photo taken, that is, until recently. We seem to have fallen out of the habit of saying 'Cheese!' when our photographs are taken. We probably think it's childish, stupid, or have some similar reason for not saying it. We tend to forget that there was a perfectly good reason for saying it. Yes we know it's to make us smile, but there's more to it than that. 'Cheese' is one of those words that makes the mouth assume a natural looking smile. 'Sausages' is another. By contrast, Homer Simpson's beloved 'Doh!' just makes us pout our lips out and look grumpy (try saying it in front of a mirror and you'll see what I mean), and there are other words that will give a similar depressing pout. 'Cheese', on the other hand, gives a nice broad smile. Say it in your mirror and see the difference.

I'm not really saying say cheese, I'm saying 'For goodness sake, smile!' Most modern cameras have a smile detection feature, which if turned on, won't take the picture until the subject smiles. Why don't you turn it on and see how much better your family snapshots look?

02 April. Read Your Manual.

Every camera comes with a manual. Whilst Auto Mode is just a simple press of the shutter, your camera will have many settings and features to enable you to take better pictures. If you don't know what your camera can do, you won't be able to do it. Scene modes are designed to get the best pictures in that particular situation, whilst panorama mode stiches three pictures together to create a seamless image, bracketing mode takes 3 different exposures of the same image, and there's lots more features to discover in your camera's manual. Read your manual and get the best from your camera.

01 April 2012. Use Your Camera.

How many times have been in a situation where you've wished you had your camera with you? You'll probably know that it's not just at  weddings and parties, or when you're on holiday that you can use your camera. Everyday events like walking the dog, can lead to great photo opportunities. The ducks on the pond in the park, the flowers in your garden, the grandchildren getting messy painting, the dog after it's been splashing around in a muddy stream or river, etc, etc, etc.Think about the everyday events that have been turned into great advertising photographs. We've all experienced moments like those, and if we photograph them then the memories they can evoke will brighten our lives.