Tips for better photography

No trip to New Zealand should be considered complete without a camera to record your memories. Make sure your holiday photos are as good as they can be.



The most important thing to do before heading to New Zealand hoping to take lots of amazing photos, is to make sure you know your equipment well.  Make sure you know everything about your camera’s menu settings, what it can and can’t do, how to operate it, how long the battery lasts etc.  The more comfortable you are with your equipment the more ready you will be to react and capture great photos - as the action happens.


Rule of Thirds

In most cases your image will be strongest when key elements are placed at the intersection of thirds within the frame.  Of course there are exceptions and treat each image on its own merits.  However your horizon will usually look more pleasing when placed either high or low in the image, with reflections being an exception where a centred horizon will give equal weight to the subject above and reflection below.

But rather than worrying too much about dividing your image into thirds and checking where each element sits, simply look through the viewfinder (or LCD screen) and move the camera a little sideways, up and down, or even move yourself a bit.  You will soon see where the image looks best, and that’s when to take the photo.

Keep it Simple

If there are elements present that don’t add to the image or help tell the story, then leave them out.  Crop, change your angle or move.

Leading Lines

Our eyes are naturally drawn along lines within a picture.  Look for lines in your composition - created by shape, light and texture - and place these in a way that draws the eye into the scene.  By carefully positioning these lines to lead into the image you can create a more pleasing picture that holds your attention longer.

Point of View

Experiment with your angle and point of view.  Shooting from high or low may dramatically change the appearance and mood of your image.  Don’t take every shot from eye level.


Look for elements within the scene with which to frame your subject matter.  These are generally darker more simple objects which help to draw your eye in to the main subject matter.


Your eye is always drawn to the brightest part of the image first.  Make sure the bright areas in your image count.


Front Lighting is when the light falls directly onto the subject (ie; the sun is behind you as the photographer).  This is the easiest situation to work with and whilst providing even tones and bright colours it can lack depth and may not produce the most emotive or creative imagery.

Side Lighting helps to provide texture and shape by creating areas of shadow and light.  This can be very pleasing in almost any type of photography as it adds extra depth to your images.  Side lighting often works best early or late in the day with warm light and long cast shadows.

Back Lighting is when the light is directly behind the subject you are photographing.  This can create dramatic halos around the subject, as well as a glow through transparent objects such as water and foliage.  It may also create dramatic shafts of light when shooting through fog or dust.  Strong silhouette images are also possible.  If shooting with a point and click, use the camera’s menu to turn on “Fill flash” to light the foreground if necessary (usually found in the program menu).  If shooting on an SLR, check your histogram and manually adjust your exposure compensation if necessary.

Diffused Lighting. Cloudy days or shooting in full shade provides a soft and even lighting throughout your image.  This eliminates harsh shadows and colour saturation will be excellent.  Use diffused lighting to get close ups of people’s faces and other portraits.

Advanced Techniques

If you are lucky enough to have a tripod and an SLR camera, you can use some more advanced techniques to really create some wonderful imagery.

Try slow shutter speeds to create mood with water movement such as a waterfall or waves on the beach.  Set your camera to Aperture Priority mode (Av) and by choosing the smallest aperture your camera will give you the slowest possible shutter speed.

You can also use a slow shutter speed in the evenings to capture city lights, the glow of a campfire, star trails and more.  Use Shutter Priority mode (Tv) and set your desired shutter speed, the camera will automatically set the aperture.

And lastly, have fun!  You will only improve as a photographer if you are enjoying taking photos and seeing the results.  Practice makes perfect, and we are only ever as good as our last photo!

Happy snapping everyone.

To learn more from a Canon EOS Master Photographer and improve your photography skills while enjoying a fabulous New Zealand adventure, why not join Chris on his Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk Photo Tour 22nd to 27th of April 2013.

For more information visit our Photo Tours website at