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Main / How to: How to Take Better Pictures

With today's automatic cameras almost anyone can produce a sharp, well-exposed image. What will set you apart from other photographers is how well you compose your images. The tips below will help you create eye-catching compositions—and transform your photos from mere snapshots into works of art.

Follow the Rule of Thirds
Placing your subject off-center creates an interesting, dynamic image. Imagine your photograph divided into three horizontal and vertical sections. To compose a well-balanced, off-center shot, place your subject near the intersections of the imaginary grid lines. This is called the rule of thirds.

Get Close
Your subject is interesting, so get close to it. Don't let your pictures suffer from the "Grandma at the Grand Canyon" syndrome, with a tiny subject and lots of boring, irrelevant space.

Try Unusual Angles
Be bold! Try turning your camera to 45 degrees before snapping a picture. Or instead of snapping it from eye level, kneel down or lie on the ground to get a more interesting shot.

Frame Your Subject
Try framing your picture with foreground objects to add depth to the image.

Pay Attention to Lines
Curves, straight lines, and diagonals add energy and movement to your compositions. Let roads and rivers draw the viewer into the image or lead the viewer's eye in a specific direction. Watch for natural geometric patterns and place yourself at an interesting angle to them.

Don't let lines unintentionally throw your photo off balance. When you shoot the horizon or a building, keep the straight lines level—unless you're shooting at a dramatic, intentional angle.

Avoid Cluttered Backgrounds
Don't let a cluttered background overwhelm or obscure your subject. Move around, or lie down, to get a clear shot at your subject without the distractions.

Avoid Mergers
As you position yourself to avoid a cluttered background, also look out for trees, lamp posts, and other background objects which might merge with your subject in unfortunate ways.

Look for Interesting Reflections and Shadows
Reflections and shadows lend a touch of artistry to an otherwise plain picture. They can provide meaningful contrasts (such as an old building reflected in a modern high rise) or depth (such as the shadow of trees along a wooded path).

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