Elements of a Good Picture

Some general suggestions for making better pictures.

These notes were written by Roy Killen and are used with his kind permission

  1. Make the point of your image obvious. For example, if you are photographing a scene or a building decide before taking it what message you want your image to convey to viewers. Then decide how best to convey that message (e.g. by standing in an appropriate place and focusing on some special feature).
  2. Some scenes (such as looking directly into a setting sun that is still fully above the horizon) are very difficult to capture without over- or under-exposing parts of the image. Sometimes you have to decide not to take the image at that time – wait a few minutes of change your position so that your camera is technically capable of capturing the scene satisfactorily.
  3. If possible, remove distractions from the image – either at capture by changing the camera position or during processing by cropping or cloning.
  4. When your area has a landmark that is often photographed  consider that the judge may not want to see multiple “ordinary” images of it. If you photograph such a landmark make sure that your image is special.
  5. It is a good idea to try to capture images that are uniquely yours – rather than being essentially the same as images that lots of other people have captured when photographing the scene/building/etc that you are photographing.
  6. When photographing scenes, buildings, monuments, etc., keep in mind that you may have much more of a personal interest in what you are photographing than will someone looking at your image. Unless you can convey a strong sense of why you photographed it, viewers may not find your image interesting.
  7. Resist the temptation to over-sharpen your images, particularly when they contain natural elements such as fur/feathers/foliage.
  8. By careful with vignettes – if they are obvious they probably should not be there.
  9. Be careful with over-saturating colours, particularly in scenes with natural elements such as sky.
  10. Don’t give the judge something obvious to criticise. If the image has large areas that are over-exposed or unintentionally out of           focus they will be noticed.