Learning to See

How to see the world with a photographer’s eye.

First things first, don’t be intimidated. As soon as you really start to look at the world around you, you’ll realise that there is an infinite number of potential photographic subjects.

But take your time to examine the scene and you’ll find your eyes drawn to certain subjects. Trust them, if it’s interesting enough to catch your attention, it will most likely make a great photograph.

So, you’ve chosen your subject, a flower in a garden for example. But now you need to think about composition. How do you want to fit that flower in your photograph?

One of the most reliable compositional tools is known as the “rule of thirds”. Simply draw imaginary lines across your camera screen or viewfinder and divide the scene into thirds. Align your subject with one of those dividing lines and it will make for a pleasingly balanced photo every time (ok, nearly every time). Use the rule of thirds; you get the frame and you put it into three sections, and put the object in any one of those thirds.

Similarly, if you’re taking a landscape shot don’t just lay the horizon across the centre of the frame; align it with the upper or lower third for a far more interesting composition.

While you’re learning to compose your shots, keep the camera in ‘Auto’ mode. That lets the machine do the work of correctly exposing and focusing the shot, while you can concentrate on the basics of framing an interesting photograph.

What you can play with is the zoom. Most kit lenses and all compacts have a zoom capability that allows you to take closer shots of your subject without physically moving. This can make for great portraits of people who, thanks to your zoom, are unaware they’re being photographed.

Great photos don't just happen by chance. They are planned or, in artistic terms, composed. And while modern-day cameras are covered in buttons that will do everything bar iron your shirts, they won't count for anything if you don't compose a good shot in the first place.

It's time to take charge of your photos, and here are a few guidelines that we hope will help you hone your artistic eye.