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Jamie Crawford's Top Tips

Resident  photography, wildlife and adventure presenter for the BBC’s The One Show, photographer, producer and writer, Jamie Crawford gives us his top tips on taking the perfect photograph:

Jamie Crawford Photographer

Wildlife 

1) Dawn and dusk
The early bird catches the worm - and the early photographer catches the bird, catching the worm. Most animals are at their most active at dawn and dusk so make the most of those few hours.

2) Action
Wildlife shots aren't just about what animals look like - they're about what they do, so think about action shots as well as portraits. You've got two options: fast shutter speed which will freeze the action, or slow shutter speed which can blur movement and create real atmosphere.

3) Try tight and wide shots
Tight portraits of animals always look great, but think also about wide shots. Setting an animal in its environment - be it a red deer in a snowy glen or a red squirrel in a sun-dappled woodland - makes for a great combination of wildlife and landscape.

4) Focus on the eyes
A viewer's eyes are immediately drawn to the eyes of an animal in a wildlife photograph so you need to think carefully about where that's placed in your shot and make sure it's in focus.

5) Wait for the animals to come to you 
Chasing after animals in hope of great shots is a) exhausting and b) ineffective. You'll scare them off and have photos of backsides at best. So, do your research and scout for a good location, then set up camp and wait for them to come to you.

 

Landscapes 

1) Rule of thirds
This rule of composition first arose among landscape painters, but it works very well for photography too. The theory says that an image divided into thirds is the most visually pleasing. So, instead of dividing your landscape into half land, half sky, divide your frame into three and align the horizon with either the lower or upper third.

2) The golden hour
The warm soft light of dawn and dusk is always best for landscape shots and I guarantee these landscape shots taken at these times will turn out better than anything done at midday when the sun is high and the light flat and hard.

3) Bad weather doesn't mean bad photos
If the weather turns nasty, try switching to black and white. Ominous clouds, swaying trees and driving rain can look extremely dramatic in monochrome.

4) Foreground detail
Everywhere you turn in the Highlands, there's a potentially great landscape shot but look for something to feature in the foreground (a boat on a loch, a cottage on a hillside) to give your photo depth and perspective. A range of hills can turn out looking surprisingly flat otherwise.

5) Scout your location
Scouting locations can be a luxury, but it's worth it. Take a walk without your camera making a mental list of locations you like the look of and - critically - their position relative to the sun's arc through the day.

 

Portraits 

1) Get in close
Unless you really, really want to show the epic scenery someone is in, frame them from the chest up so that they fill the frame and you can see their face. So many holiday snaps feature ant sized people shot from twenty yards away. Remember what the subject of the shot is.

2) Take more than one shot
Don't just order your subject to smile and take one photograph. Feel free to shoot quite a number, you may get some much better natural shots either side of the forced smile ones. The joy of digital photography is you can delete all the ones you don't like instantly.

3) Simple background
So that the viewer focusses on the person, keep the background as simple as possible.

4) Shade
There's no need to take photos of people in bright sunlight. Often the light is softer in the shade and makes for more evenly lit portraits.

5) Daytime flash
Using a little flash during the day is a really effective way of picking your subjects out of their surroundings.

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