How to Improve Your Photos Using 5 Composition Techniques

What is composition in photography and how can a deeper understanding of its concept help you improve your photos? Composition simply refers to developing a photographic eye to enhance photographic work. By continuously developing your photographic eye, you will develop better visual skills and abilities as a photographer. In this post, we will break down all the essential composition techniques that separate a good shot from an impressive shot.


One of the founding elements of a strong composition lies in effectively framing the subject within a shot. While the natural inclination is to put the main focal point front and center of the frame, this could result in odd-looking placement of the focal point. To offset this effect, consider placing the focal point either to the one side or in a corner of the frame just so you can create context for the image. This doesn’t apply if you are shooting portraits because such type of shots requires the subject to be in the center of the frame. That being said, photography is all about experimenting with different shots, don’t be afraid to explore your options to mix things up!



In photography, it’s important to consider how every element within a frame relate to each other. From here, you decide if a certain element has to be included or left out of the shot. While it’s tempting to fill every shot with as many points of interest as possible, always consider how the elements play out together. This means, you need to be selective as elements within a shot are concerned. Execute every shot with careful consideration to get the most out of every picture.

Rule of Thirds

One of the basic rules of composition is the rule of thirds. The method refers to the division of the frames into thirds: vertically, horizontally and using the lines to bisect your image. From here you will section off areas of the shot and using the nodes at which the lines cross as areas for points of interest. The rule of thirds is commonly used for landscape shots or portrait shots.

contrasting elements

Contrasting Elements

Before taking a shot, it’s essential to consider it in context and how the surrounding elements relate to one another. This means checking how the shapes, textures, the tones and the colors of the main focal point compare with that of the surrounding area. If you see a strong correlation between the main focal point and the surrounding area, highlight it using composition to tie all elements together in the shot. On the other hand, if you see contrasting elements between the focal point and the surrounding elements, highlight those differences too.


Patterns and Symmetry

Showcasing varying patterns and symmetry in a frame, especially in architecture, makes for a dramatic, compelling shot. When it comes to highlighting patterns and symmetry in a frame, you need to take your time observing the subject and recognizing the patterns, which includes the lines and the shapes. Carefully set up the camera so it sits square to the subject. To minimize the disruption of patterns or symmetry within a frame and maximize the effects, leave any external distractions from the shot.

Factors To Consider Before Freelancing

Because permanent and contract photography jobs are becoming scarce, freelancing is a great option for those who want to earn money through photography. However, while freelancing has its own benefits, it does come with several challenges too! In this post, we will break down the factors you have to consider before becoming a freelance photographer.

Marketing Yourself

Let’s face it, there are probably hundreds of other photographers just waiting to take that offer away from your hands. As such, it’s important to learn how you can market yourself to clients and deliver as many incentives as possible in order to persuade them to pick you instead. One of the most common deciding factors for a job is the price. If you are able to price your work correctly and competitively and you give your clients a rundown of things you can do for them, then you have even higher chances of bagging the job.



Listen To Client Requests

It’s important to not just do a stellar job but also to meet the expectation of the client. Remember, bagging a job isn’t just about the work you want to create, it’s also about the service you want to provide to your clients. If anything, do try to over deliver or do more than you should in order to make loyal customers out of new clients.

Establishing Trust Through Constant Communication

Constant communication between you and your client is an integral part of freelancing. You want your customer to trust you to do your job. Thankfully, you can communicate many ways with each other such as via email, over the phone or even through text. The idea here is to reassure your clients that you are reachable whenever they need you and you are always ready to answer any of their questions. Communication builds trust. And trust will lead to numerous jobs.



Don’t Be Afraid Of Challenges

One of the great things about freelancing is that there are many challenges just waiting to be hurdled. Once you overcome these challenges, you come out better than ever before. Don’t look at any setbacks in a negative light, these are opportunities to help you become a better photographer.

Look For Like-Minded Individuals To Work Alongside

Surrounding yourself with bright, talented individuals is a great way to become even better at what you do. From here you can learn tips and tricks that you won’t find in any photography books. You can also built your contact base, find more clients and discover a support group to help you out when needed.


How To Minimize Digital Noise

It can be quite frustrating to deal with digital noise each time you take a shot. Noise refers to the unsightly discoloration that makes any photo appear grainy and is typically seen when shooting subjects like the sky, etc. Noise appears as tiny dots across an image once it is viewed on a PC at 100%. It’s worth noting that digital noise is proportional to a camera’s ISO level. This means, the higher the ISO level, the higher the chances of getting digital noise in pictures. In this post, we are listing down ways to minimize digital noise in photography.

Set The ISO to Lower Values

There’s no need to set the ISO values at high all the time. We recommend using only higher ISO values when you need to. Setting the ISO values lower helps minimize digital noise. This way, you get great pictures without having to waste more time adjusting the pictures separately from your PC to remove the digital noise.


Consider Using Larger Sensor

When digital noise is keeping you from taking great shots, why not opt for cameras with larger sensor? Larger sensors are needed to accommodate higher ISO values without creating digital noise in pictures. That being said, digital cameras with larger sensor are very expensive. Which is why if you are investing on a new camera, make sure the sensors are big enough to connect more light. Choosing cameras with full-frame sensor are the perfect choice as the larger sensor allows electrons to travel further before corrupting neighboring light sensors.

Use Wide Aperture Lens

Wide aperture lens helps achieve high quality images. How? Such lenses  maximize the light intake when shooting because it capture more photons, making the size of the aperture an integral part of photographic quality. Wide aperture lens helps blur out the background and focus on the subject for a crisp, clear image when shooting in low light conditions. That said, using wide aperture lens means having working on a limited depth of field.

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Avoid Overheating Your Camera

Did you know: the cooler the camera, the better the image quality? Low light setting may cause noise in the final outcome of the picture because the lens are exposed for a longer time to absorb light. When the camera’s sensor is exposed for a long time, it tends to overhead and the result is digital noise. To prevent this, we recommend using cameras with faster shutter speeds. This allows you to get great photos while minimizing digital noise. Additionally, avoid setting your camera in burst mode. Finally, to avoid sensors from overheating, do not put your camera anywhere near direct heat.

Buy A Noise Reduction Software

If all else fail, you can always edit the pictures using a special software that helps minimize digital noise. Might seem tedious but it’s one of the best ways to get great results. You can use Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. These software have features that reduce digital noise, sharpens the images and adjust the contrast of the images according to your preference.

How To Find The Perfect Tripod For Your Needs

Whether you are a professional or a newbie photographer, there’s no doubt that the right tripod spells the difference between good and bad photography. This is why we consider tripods as one of the most important tools in photography. Tripod helps stabilize and support the camera and this is important if you are a professional. If you are thinking of investing on a good tripod but is somehow clueless on what factors you have to consider to get the right tripod for your needs:




You want a nice, stable tripod that’s light yet durable. While tripods are typically crafted from aluminum, carbon fiber and basalt, make sure to test out each one when shopping around before you make a purchase.

Aluminum Tripod: Lightweight aluminum tripods are lightweight and perfectly mobile. But it also lacks the strength and thickness to keep the camera steady. On the other hand, heavy aluminum tripods may be steady and durable but they do weigh a ton. Media crews typically use aluminum tripods because of their portability.

Carbon Fiber Tripod: Carbon fiber tripods are lightweight, stable and durable and they come in great designs. However, carbon fiber is a brittle material so when you accidentally drop your tripod, there’s a change it will get damaged. Carbon fiber tripods are also the most expensive types of tripods in the market.

Basalt: Basalt tripods are the most budget-friendly types of tripods among the three on our list. This type of material is fairly new in making tripods and they are durable too. However, basalt tripods lack rigidity, unlike both aluminum and carbon fiber tripods.



Leg Lock

All tripods are fitted with a nifty leg lock mechanism that will help stabilize the camera. There are two types of leg lock mechanisms out there, the twist grip or the spring loader lever. The twist grip is great because it minimizes slippage while locking or unlocking the tripod. However, this type of mechanism has no add-ons. The spring loader, on the other hand, is widely available and efficient but it does come with metal parts that could rust over time.

Leg Covers

You want to protect your equipment as much as possible because repairs are costly! Don’t forget to look for leg covers for your tripod as well. While leg covers are not really an “essential” tool, it does help prolong the life and quality of your tripod, saving you hundreds of dollars each year.



Tripod Head

Probably the most important factor to consider when shopping for the right tripod is the head because this is where the stability of the camera will depend. The tripod has to be stable even when you tilt the camera from side to side. There are two popular types of tripod heads to choose from: ball head and pan and tilt head.

Ball Head: Such type of tripod head features a ball in the socket so camera is free to tilt and rotate using a knob. Tripods fitted with ball head are perfect for fast, motion photography because of the smoother motion of the head that lends flexibility to the camera.

Pan and Tilt Head: This type of tripod can be adjusted in horizontal and vertical positions as well as tilt sideways. You can limit the movement of the tripod head by adjusting the screws. This type of tripod head is perfect for portraits and for landscape photography.

Support and Stability

A professional photographer must look for tripods that offer optimum stability and support even on rough terrain. Some professionals would invest on a couple of photographic bean bans, similar to the ones we use at home, to get the maximum stability out of their tripod.

Additionally, it’s also important to consider the height the tripod can extend to as well as the amount of weight it can support. The tripod has to reach your eye level because you can’t bend down each time you are taking a photo. The folded height of the tripod has to be considered as well especially if you plan to do a lot of traveling with your equipment. The tripod has to be light enough to carry anywhere but stable enough to be usable in your photo shoot.


6 Travel Photography Tips for Newbies

It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned photographer or a newbie, we can’t help but take great pictures whenever we travel! Travelling to different places is the perfect time to flex your creative muscle and capture captivating shots of the places you’ve been in. In this article, we will list down great tips for budding photographers out there, guiding you on how you can sharpen your skills when you are on the road!


Tip 1: Invest On A Great DSLR Camera

This is fairly obvious, if you want to create high quality shots then you need to invest on high quality tools. One such tool is a DSLR camera. We don’t mean spending a fortune on a newfangled DSLR with all the bells and whistles. A decent DSLR that allows you to shoot RAW pictures and gives you flexibility as far as manipulating the shots is enough to get you started.

Tip 2: Don’t Forget The Lenses

Different lenses are required to shoot in different scenes. To build your “basic” kit when taking travel photography, you will need two types of lenses: a 25-200 mm lens and a 50 mm lens. Again, you don’t need to plow through your savings just to get these lenses as lenses are extremely expensive. But if you got the budget for it, make sure you get all the essential lenses you need to utilize your camera efficiently.



But a point worth nothing, don’t pack way too much lenses, you probably won’t use the whole range of variable lenses on your kit. Even a standard 18-55 lens makes a great lens for shooting beautiful scenes. You want to spend as much time as you can taking shot. You wouldn’t want to get stuck changing one lens after another the entire trip and missing out on the great scenery unfolding!

Tip 3: A Little Research Goes A Long Way

It pays to know what you can expect before you arrive to your location. As such, it’s important to do your homework before you pack your essentials. If you know someone who has been in the place where you are heading, don’t hesitate to ask questions about the best places to shoot, details about the scenery and most importantly, the weather conditions. You don’t want any surprises especially when you are lugging expensive pieces of equipment to an unfamiliar place.

Tip 4: Take Advantage Of The Golden Hour

Don’t waste too much time figuring out proper lighting when you are shooting travel photos because natural lighting is the best lighting. Most veteran photographers will tell you that one of the best times to take photos is the moment just before and after the sun sets and rises. Shooting in this light will give your photos a gorgeous golden glow.


Tip 5: Always Keep a Backup!

This is a no brainer but we can’t stress this enough: always keep a backup of your files. Backing up all the lovely pictures you shot in your laptop everyday may sound tedious but it will save you the heartache of losing all your precious work when your miniscule memory card get lost or heaven forbid, gets corrupted.

Tip 6: Go Easy On The Photoshop

Photoshop is helpful on a lot of things and there’s absolutely nothing wrong in making slight adjustments with the pictures using editing software to say, optimize contrast or adjust the color setting, etc. However, use photo-editing tools only to refine the shot, not to alter the whole photo completely.


Macro Photography Pro Tips For Newbies

Got the passion for DSLR macro photography? From proper lighting to making little adjustments to your DSLR settings, we’ve got insider tips on how you can turn ordinary shots into visually-stunning works of arts.

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Credit: Chris for

It’s All About The Focus

Photography, at its most basic, is all about laser-like focus on a subject. Shooting at a 1:1 magnifications or higher will result in the subject of focus being extremely narrow. To prevent this, always make sure to check whether or not the subject is in focus. If you are using a digital camera, try to zoom into the subject as far as your camera allows so you can confirm if the subject is in exact focus. You don’t want to miss a great shot by overlooking the basics!

Get Rid of Foreground/Background Clutter

In photography, the viewer’s eye tend to naturally drift towards the brightest spot in an image. This means, you have to learn how to control the background or foreground clutter to get the best shot. This is especially important if you are shooting in a mixed light. You want to fill the frame with your subject in order to cancel out the background. If lighting is bad, you can also use a sheet of plain white paper behind your subject to create a flattering light. You can also control background clutter by shooting at wider apertures. This will help minimize background focus.

The Perfect Setup

How do you get a perfect setup? It starts with the correct exposure. Exposure of an image can make or break even the most perfect setup. The rule of thumb is the greater the distance between the sensor and the subject, the longer the exposure has to be. Most digital cameras have exposure metering through the lens so this takes all the guesswork as far as finding the correct exposure. Another great tip toward achieving correct exposure is to check your histogram several times before taking the shot.

Credit: Sylke Uhlig, Lost in Paradise

Credit: Sylke Uhlig, Lost in Paradise

Minding Your Shutter Speed

There are times when you can’t shoot faster than the length of your lens. If such is the case, use a tripod, it’ll just be much easier this way plus, the camera will remain stable no matter how shaky the setup is. Also, the general rule of thumb is that handheld macro shots , those with 100mm focal length lens, should have the shutter speed of about 1/100th of a second or faster. This way, you get a sharper image.

The Perfect Close-Up Shot

In order to get real close, you need to be at your subject’s level. This means getting your lens parallel to the subject and reducing both background and foreground clutter. This helps produce compelling results, visually but also adds to the area of focus. Using a tripod is a great way to get a good angle especially if you are aiming to get right down low. Using heavier tripod is also the best tool to have when taking close-up shots. Heavy tripods may not be a joy to tote around but you will get much better results!

How To Do HDR Photography

HDR photography is very popular these days, as much as it can create amazing images, as much as it can also gives disastrous results!

The method is relatively simple, you take 3 photos or more at different exposures and then you blend them together in a HDR software and the resulting image will exhibit more details in the shadows and highlights and often times, will create exaggerated, more pronounced and vibrant colors.

When you take your 3 photos, you take one that is under exposed, by one or two stops, one that is correctly exposed and one that is over exposed by one or two stops..

You can do this manually with your camera on a tripod or you can do that automatically by going into the settings of your camera and choosing “Exposure Compensation”. Refer to your camera’s manual to then choose 3 different exposures. I usually go with two stops under exposed and over exposed.

Then, to avoid touching your camera and create vibrations that could affect the blending of your three images, it is not a bad idea to set the camera to take picture automatically with a delay of 2 seconds. This will guarantee good results.

After you have taken the pictures, process them in a software like Photomatix which will generate a HDR photo. You can use the presets already in place but I would recommend that you familiarize yourself with the settings by playing with them a little, this is how you will get good results with HDR. Presets will give you good results only on lucky days.

And if you want to get even better results, I suggest you bring your new HDR image into Photoshop and then work on it some more. After getting processed with a HDR software, the colors of your photo will usually need a little work.

HDR photography will be the most useful when the scene you are photographing is very contrasty with hard shadows and highlights. By taking 3 photos or more at different exposures, this will allow you to fix the blown out highlight and the clipped shadows.

Below is an example of a HDR photo and the same one without the HDR effect.


HDR is hit or miss, sometimes it will look better, sometimes it wont.

I hope you learn something reading this blog post, comment below if you have any questions!

HOW TO: Manage Sunlight With A Diffuser And A Reflector

The light from the sun can be pretty harsh and cast harder shadows that you’d like. It will also often be the only light source you’ll have and that also can be hard to manage especially for portraits.

There are two easy ways to better manage sunlight and it is by using a diffuser and a reflector.

Something you’ll often see on professional shoots done outside like at the beach for example is a huge square white cloth or semi-transparent material between the subject and the sun to diffuse and soften the harsh light as softer shadows are often much more attractive.

Another thing you’ll notice nearly all the time is an assistant using a huge reflector or white board to redirect the sunlight either on the entire face of the model or only on one side to create attractive highlights.

If you do not have a professional lighting equipment to improve your photos, using the sun, even indoor by taking photos right next to your windows for example can be a great alternative.

During an overcast day, you might not need a diffuser so much but if the sun is bright outside and your photographing a woman, I suggest you try a diffuser to see the difference it makes.

Of course when you take a photo of someone next to the window, you cannot have this person face the window and look at the camera at the same time. Because the sun will be either behind the person or at an angle, you’ll want to use a reflector to redirect the sunlight into the face of your subject or your portrait will be too dark. This will act as a second light source and because it’s reflected light, it will be much softer which is perfect for portraits.

I ran a little test to demonstrate how a reflector and a diffuser can be used with sunlight to change the look of what you are photographing.

Below is the reflector I used (Can be bought very cheaply on Ebay) and the diffuser was simply semi-transparent white curtains. Note that a white cardboard can easily be used as a reflector.

Bouncing Light Reflector

My setup was simple, I just put a bunch of objects with different textures and surfaces next to a window facing South at around 2:30pm in early January.

I took 4 pictures. Observe the photos carefully the see the differences.

The light source for the photo below is the sun, NO reflector, NO diffuser.

Light test 1

Sun as light source, WITH reflector, NO diffuser. (You can see a part of the reflector on the lower left side)

Light test 2

Sun as light source, WITH reflector, WITH diffuser.

Light Test 3

Sun as light source, NO reflector, WITH diffuser.

Light Test 4

Since the sunlight was not hash and direct because of its angle to the window, the diffuser wasn’t as necessary as it could have been and diminished the light to be redirected in the reflector.

When doing portrait photography, a softer light more diffused light can certainly be the better option while for other things like objects, perhaps a diffuser is sometimes not necessary.

Also not that if you use a diffuser and you find that the image is lacking some “pop” and contrast, you can of course fix that in Photoshop using either the LEVELS or the CURVES.

Position Of The Sun In The Sky

Another way to manage the sunlight is to carefully choose the time of day for your photos.

Here below is the same set up photographed as the sun was setting. No need of a diffuser at that point, however the reflector was necessary.

Sun setting WITHOUT reflector.


Sun setting WITH reflector.


And this is a close-up of the last photo.

close up

You can see with the photo above that a reflector can provide just the right amount of soft light to be used as “fill light”.

I hope this little test was informative to you and I suggest you do your own tests with reflectors and diffusers, they are certainly vital tools in a photographer’s tool box!

HOW TO: Color Correct Your Photos In Photoshop

When you see great photos out there, be certain of one thing, they didn’t look like that fresh out of the camera. The were worked on, they were post-processed, color corrected and sometimes even, color graded.

What is the difference between color correcting and color grading you might ask? Color correcting is when try to improve the colors, highlights and shadows in your photos, in other words, improve your image while keeping the same look. Color grading is giving your photos a different look, a different feel, the adjustments are more drastic, instead of just improving, you change things, you change colors. And this is why color correcting is much easier to do than color grading.

There are two ways to color correct, you can work on your RAW image in a Photoshop plug-in called CameraRaw or you can do your adjustments in Photoshop directly. I usually use both but since this post is for beginners, I’ll show you how you can do it directly in Photoshop.

First, always start with adjusting the LEVELS to balance your shadows, midtones and highlights. (Image > Adjustments > Levels)

This will essentially adjust the contrasts of your photos.

When the ‘levels’ box appears, you’ll see a graph with three numbers right under it. The first one, if you push the little arrow to the right it will darken the shadows, the middle number whether you push its little arrow to the right or left it will either brighten or darken the midtones, and the number on the right, if you push the little arrow under it to the left, you will brighten the highlights. My advice is play with those 3 arrows until you get the result you want.

Photoshop levels

Next, we want to adjust and correct the colors.

The easiest method for this is to adjust the COLOR BALANCE. (Image > Adjustments > Color Balance)

We first adjusted the contrasts for the shadows, midtones and highlights, now let’s adjust the colors for the shadows, midtones and highlights.

It’s relatively simple.

Let’s start with the highlights. By adjusting the colors in the highlights, you will be adjusting the colors of the brighter pixels.

By adjusting the colors in the shadows, you could change the color of the darker pixels like the shadows obviously but also anything that is darker.

And by adjusting the colors in the midtones, you’ll change the color of any pixels that are in the 50% gray area.

Color balance Photoshop

My advice here is to just play with the sliders until your get the colors you want.

Here’s below a demonstration of what adding simple adjustments like Color Balance and Levels can do for your photo.

Before and after

You don’t need to do a million things, just practice with those two basic adjustments and you will improve the look of your photos dramatically from now on, I promise you!

Buying A Lens For Your DSLR Camera – Which One To Choose?

When you buy your first DSLR camera, the stock zoom lens is often all you could want and rarely will you look into purchasing a more expensive lens without giving your kit lens at least a good try. After a while though, you realize its limitation and you are starting to get envious of others who could for example take portraits with an out of focus background, take pictures of things moving in a low light environment, take wide angle shots of breathtaking landscape or maybe take that great shot of something far away.

The kit lens that comes with your entry level Canon or Nikon DSLR is usually a 18-55mm lens with an aperture starting at f/3.5 at 18mm and f/5.6 at 55mm. For anyone who has had a few months of experience with their DSLR and are looking to improve, those specs aren’t really impressive.

Canon Kit Lens

Canon Kit Lens

When you have outgrown your kit lens and are looking for a or a few new ones, you need to figure out what are your needs. Your friend is maybe raving about his lens but perhaps it is not one you need.

First, ask yourself, how’s your kit lens limiting you? Do you wish you had a wider angle? A longer zoom? A shallower depth of field? Better in low light conditions? Sharper? Better colors?

Here are a few things to consider, what is more important to you, flexibility or quality of the image? A prime lens (only one focal length) will generally give you better images, however, a zoom will be much more practical as will not not have to consistently change lenses. So the question is where and why do you mostly plan to use it? If you like to take photos as you walk around, then a zoom would be a better choice for your needs. That being said, if you have the money, you can have both!

Good zoom lenses I recommend are the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 and the Canon 17-55mm f/2.8, both excellent sharp lens with a low and constant aperture.

If however you really want the quality, the low light capabilities and the shallow depth of field of a prime lens, I would suggest the very capable Canon 50mm f/1.8 or the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lens to get your feet wet as this is a lens you can often get for less than $100. That being said, I can guarantee you that you will outgrow this lens within 1 or 2 years so is it better to get the lens just a notch above? If that’s what you choose, look for the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 or the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G Lens.

Now that being said, 50mm primes are great for portraits on a cropped sensor like all entry level DSLR are but that might be too long to be a very flexible lens than can do portraits but also can be your walk-around lens.

If you are looking for the best of both world, look into 30mm lenses and when we are talking about 30mm lens that are somewhat affordable, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is at the top of my list. Versatile, great colors, amazing in low lights and also an amazing lens if you are tempted to take advantage of the incredible video quality that most DSLRs offer these days.

If what you are into are landscapes, architectures or simply wide angle photography, then there’s no better choice under $1000 than the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens. If that lens is a little too expensive for you, give the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 a good look, less appealing but great nonetheless.

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

As for “super zooms”, a great entry level lens that will take care of those far away shots without too much frills is the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Lens. If your wallet is a little deeper however, look for the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 which is just above $1000.

Now my favorite lens under $1000 is the Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 ZE Planar T* Manual Focus lens. Amazing portrait lens, can be used on a full sensor camera if you decide to upgrade at a later date, SUPER sharp and amazing for video. The only drawback for photographers is that it is a manual focus lens so if you plan on using this for a walk around lens or for photographing anything that moves, think again!

Zeiss 50mm f/1.4

Zeiss 50mm f/1.4

So I hope this little buying guide helped you figure out what lens you’d like to buy and remember, before buying anything this expensive, do your homework and read reviews!

Here’s below a great video shot with a Zeiss 50mm f/1.4