Photo Lesson

How to stop camera shake

There is nothing worse than a great photo ruined by camera shake. 

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The blurry image here didn't come poor focus. Looking at the Exif data, the photo was shot at 1/30 sec. That's too slow for action shots. The aperture was f/5.6 and the ISO was set to 1600. 

Putting it together

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This silhouette, from 7's photostream has several elements of good composition and lighting all working together to make a great photo. Can you find three distinct layers of depth in this image? Sometimes this can be done best with a wide-angle lens and strong composition choices.

In the photo below from Pro-Zak's photostream, you'll see another silhouette, wide-angle shot with great lighting and a 30 second exposure. This photo breaks some rules about centering the subject but that's one of the things I like about it.

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Profile in light

Look at this amazing photograph. How many light sources were used? What did the photographer use to get the soft fill lighting and the front profile highlighting? Can you reproduce this effect?

What about the symmetry and composition of this image makes it appealing?

Take a look at other face profile tagged photos on Flickr for inspiration and then try some of your own.

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From deskounlmtd's photostream.

Vanishing point

I love the simpleness of this photo and yet, because it makes strong use of texture and composition, it is so powerful. The use of vanishing point and depth make the photo.

Many of the vanishing point photos on Flickr use wide angle lenses but not all. Enjoy some of these shots and then try your own!

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The photos above are from Docman's and Giant McDonald's photo streams.

Look for color

Great photos are all about light, shape, form, contrast and... color. Color is powerful. It can create mood, passion and tell a story. This example from Naveen Jamal's Flickr Stream is a good example.

If you're trying to get a blue sky, don't be afraid to underexpose some to avoid losing the rich colors. That's what I did in this photo from my own Flickr stream. You can also use a polarizing filter which will help bring out a deep blue color from the sky and control the way light is reflected off of flat surfaces in your image.

The walk by - Catch it!

Here's a great photo from dlemieux's Flickr stream. She has several great sets of street photography. One way to get a great photo is to scout out your location looking for a good background. Then setup and wait for people to walk by. It's the people in front, framed by the background that can give you a great photo.


Self-portrait by Vincent Van GoghWho are you? Can a photograph tell that story? For many years artists have created self-portraits. Vincent Van Gogh painted this self-portrait in 1887. What would it take for a photograph to capture you as a person?

There are several ways for you to create a self-portrait with your camera. One way is to use a tripod or set the camera on a solid surface and use the self-timer shutter feature. Look for a button or menu option on your camera with this icon:

Self-timer icon

This is the self-timer setting. When you depress the shutter, you camera will wait several seconds before taking the photograph. This gives you time to get into position.

When creating your self-portrait, take into consideration the background. C.A.L.M. by Nameet PotnisYou may want to place yourself in an environment that says something about who you are. You many also want to use a blank wall or backdrop so that you are alone in the frame. Don't be afraid to do some serious cropping too. That's what Nameet Potnis did in this self-portrait posted to his Flickr stream. His photograph was part of a theme competition for self-portraits on Flickr. Follow that link to see some other interesting photographs.

You should also examine the self-portrait tagged images on Flickr. See how the use of lighting and cropping can create powerful images.

Composition - Rule of Thirds

In photography, composition refers to the placement of the subject within the frame of your photograph. Composition also deals with lightness, darkness, lines and balance of the image. One basic rule is the rule of thirds. Images with the subject aligned with the intersection of the horizontal and vertical thirds are usually more appealing.

Rule of thirds...This image by Stephanie Deissner from her Flickr stream is a good example. I've overlaid a grid of thirds on the photo to show where the horizontal and vertical lines intersect. Stephanie has placed the eyes close to the intersection of the upper-left third. You can read more about the rule of thirds on


There are two concepts that we'll deal with in this lesson. One is the simple act of framing a subject when composing a photograph. In the image below, an object in the foreground frames the image in the background. Focus is also used to guide your eye. Framing can give the viewer the impression of looking through something to the subject. The frame directs the eye's gaze. It adds depth to the image and gives the viewer a sense of being in the scene.CC License: Pnelson