30 Ways to Improve Your Photography Page 3

21 Exhibit Your Photographs
Exhibiting your work is a great way to have it seen and maybe even make a name for yourself (or at least a few dollars to spend on film). Don't expect instant fame or that a well-known gallery will host your first show. Instead, try contacting a few local colleges, libraries or restaurants to see if they are interested in hosting an exhibition. Once you find a venue, distribute some promotional flyers and keep your fingers crossed.

22 Get Out the Big Guns
There's something about long telephoto lenses that excites the imagination of the outdoor photographer. Particularly useful for sports/action and wildlife shooting, these big guns "compress" perspective zeroing in on distant subjects. The longer the focal length, the more pronounced the effect becomes.

Long telephotos also deliver extremely shallow depth of field, and you can exaggerate this effect by intentionally selecting wider f-stops—thereby eliminating distracting clutter from the background of your photos. Be sure to bring some fast film, and, as we've said before, a sturdy tripod.

23 Wake Up Early—Stay Out Late
Everyone knows that the best light occurs early in the morning and late in the day. But how often do you take advantage of these opportunities. If you're out at dawn, there will be less people around to clutter up your shot. And if you live in a smoggy location like Los Angeles, you'll find the clearest skies of the day. Smog levels are admittedly at their peak late in the day at "golden hour," but, hey, those smog particles in the sky make for great sunset shots.

24 Rent a Studio
You probably don't have room in your house (or a sufficient budget) to build your own home studio. But don't despair, because their are many well-equipped photo studios for rent in most communities. Whether you are interested in portraiture, fashion, glamour or tabletop photography, some time in the studio will give you a great opportunity to practice your skills. Since you'll be likely be paying by the hour, plan your shoot in advance, so you make the most of your time.

25 Shoot Your Kids
No, not literally! If you have children, you have access to models who don't have to be paid (although you may have to bribe them if you expect them to pose patiently for more than a couple of minutes). Kid photos don't have to be hokey; children are just like any portrait subjects, only smaller. One basic rule is to kneel down, so that you photograph your small subjects at eye level like you do with adults. For informal portraits it often helps to dress your model in a favorite outfit, or use a familiar toy as a prop.

If your child becomes bored with the process, give yourself a timeout; forcing a child to pose once he or she is tired of the session is a sure-fire recipe for bad pictures.

26 Read Photography Books
A quick trip to your favorite bookstore or local library will reveal a wealth of material that will help you take better pictures. Books on a variety of photographic techniques are popular and widely available. But we also recommend spending some quality time with a few "coffee table" books; there's nothing like a collection of stunning images to get you inspired and start the creative juices flowing.

27 Take Your Camera Everywhere
We've all found ourselves in a situation in which we wished we had a camera available; maybe it was a fantastic sunset, a spontaneous street scene, or a child's first step. That's why most serious shooters (and many pros) buy a full-featured point-and-shoot model that's small enough to carry everywhere. Many of today's high-resolution digital compact cameras are perfect for this purpose. Don't forget to carry a few rolls of film (or a couple of extra memory cards) and some spare batteries.

28 Try Macro Photography
You don't even have to leave your home to find a variety of interesting subjects for close-up photography. Stamps, coins, jewelry and backyard insects all offer possibilities for macro shots. It helps to have a true macro lens with a 1:1 reproduction ratio, but many common zoom lenses offer 1:4 (or 1/4-lifesize) macro capability. Precise focusing is essential, since the combination of high magnification and close-focusing distance limits depth of field severely. You can increase depth of field a bit by using flash or faster film; thereby permitting you to select a smaller aperture.

Use your camera's mirror lock-up feature (if it has one) and a cable release to minimize vibration. A good tripod is also an important accessory for close-up photography.

29 Make a Portfolio
Even if you never plan on selling your photographs, you'll benefit by creating a portfolio of your favorite imagery. An attractive album of your best photographs can serve as a valuable reference for future work, as well as a source of inspiration when a shoot doesn't go as planned and your results are disappointing. Most camera retailers and art supply stores carry a variety of portfolio cases and inserts for mounting your work.

If you have a digital camera (or a scanner) and a photo-realistic printer, you can print your portfolio pieces yourself at home.

30 Subscribe to a Photography Magazine
A good photography magazine provides a source of inspiration, easy-to-understand instructional articles, comprehensive information on the latest equipment, and interviews with notable photographers whose work you can emulate. If you want our recommendation, here's a tip: you'll find at least one subscription card somewhere in this issue.

Happy reading.