Photography Tips

Expert advice from our photo editor.

  • Making A Distinction

    One of the most effective ways to draw attention to a photograph is through the use of contrast. There are two types: tonal and color. Tonal contrast is defined as the difference between dark and light shades in a photo, while color contrast is the dynamic between similar or opposite colors as they appear on a color wheel. Understanding contrast allows you to orchestrate the types of photos you want to make in any lighting situation. If you're shooting for a serene look, compose your image using similar colors, like blues and violets. For an attention grabber, use opposite colors like red and green. This will create instant interest under the gloomiest lighting conditions. Photo: Larry Dech

  • Calibrate Your Computer

    One important step when editing an image is to calibrate your computer monitor for color accuracy. Color display varies from monitor to monitor, and if you try to print an image from an uncalibrated monitor, you might find it looks significantly different from what was displayed on the screen you edited with. The process for calibrating each machine will be different, so be sure to check your manual for the appropriate steps before you get started.

  • Shooting Wildlife

    Shooting Wildlife

    Hoping to capture great photographs of Arizona’s fauna? The first thing to do is get out into the field with an experienced wildlife photographer who can give you some tips. In addition, do some research and try to be in the field when the wildlife you hope to capture is the most active. To make your images sharp, use a tripod and a fast shutter speed. It also helps to have the sun at your back and reflecting off of an animal, and to make your photos at the animal’s eye level. Beyond that, just practice and find a shooting style that works for you. Photo by: Eva Micklethwaite (photo contest submission)

  • Bracketing

    Bracketing

    In challenging lighting situations, try using bracketing to ensure the best exposure. Usually, this means making three or more images: one slightly underexposed, one with the presumed correct exposure, and one slightly overexposed. Most DSLRs have an automatic setting to do this, but if your camera does not, you can bracket manually by slightly adjusting your exposure for each shot — usually in 1/3 -or 1/2-stop increments above and below the camera's reading. When it comes time to edit your images, you'll have more options from which to choose.

  • Modes of Operation

    There are five main shooting modes on most DSLR cameras: Auto, Program, Shutter-Priority, Aperture-Priority and Manual. In Auto, the camera controls everything to, theoretically, keep your photos mistake-free. In Program, the camera still automatically adjusts aperture and shutter speed, but the photographer can choose from several combinations that will produce the same exposure. Shutter-Priority allows the photographer to control the shutter speed while the camera adjusts aperture, and Aperture-Priority does the opposite of that. Manual leaves the photographer in full control of both aperture and shutter speed. Our advice: Move the dial off of Auto and start to explore your creativity.

  • Geometry 101

    Geometry 101

    At a basic level, photography is about the arrangement of shapes within a frame. A photographer who keeps an eye out for geometric shapes can create interesting images by learning to think more abstractly. Look for silhouettes and shadows that create a graphic composition — whether you find the outline of tall plants against a sunlit canyon wall or the shadows cast by the spines of a cactus. Remember to pay attention to the edges of the frame and reduce distractions before you release the shutter. Photo: Jeff Kida