Norman Park Foundation

     benefitting and beautifying outdoor life in Norman



The Norman Park Foundation is grateful to Charles Rushton, photographer and teacher of photography, for this list of techniques for improving your photographs.  The idea of promoting and celebrating trees through photographic art drives the Foundation to continue its annual Oklahoma Tree Photo Contest.  Some who are new to  photography may find it frustrating to see a beautiful tree, photograph it, and not receive recognition.  As Charles says, "It's not what you photograph, it's how you photograph."  In other words, the more elements from this list that you manage to master, the better your photograph will be.  Meanwhile, enjoy getting out when the light is just right to take a great photograph that tells a story, delights, soothes, intrigues, or touches the viewer in some other way.




1.  Emphasize space:  Take advantage of scenes that  contain lines or a foreground, middle ground and background.

2.  Use your zoom lens creatively:  Use short focal lengths to expand space and long focal lengths to compact space.

3.  Focus to create emphasis:  Use selective focus to emphasize or isolate a subject.

4.  Control motion with shutter speeds:  Use fast shutter speeds to stop motion or slow shutter speeds to blur motion.  Pan with a moving object to blur the background.

5.  Move in close:  Eliminate areas of unimportant details or negative (unnecessary) space.

6.  Create abstracts:  Make photographs that do not have a recognizable subject.

7.  Pay attention to light:  Try to find interesting lighting situations like early morning, late in the day, or night time.  Use different types of lighting like direct and diffused, front, back and side lighting, and silhouette lighting.

8.  Photograph unusual subjects:  Try photographing subjects that people would not normally think to photograph.

9.  Experiment with angle of view:  Avoid always taking photographs at eye level.  Try some high and low angle shots.

10.  Create a frame within a frame:  Use a window, doorway, or some other type of frame to emphasize your subject.

11.  Place your subject off-center:  Make use of the rule of thirds.

12.  Photograph the virtual world of reflections and shadows:  Include them, or make them the main subject of your photograph.

13.  Juxtaposition:  Place your camera so that unrelated items are brought into close proximity to create a surprising relationship between them that would not otherwise exist.

14.  Make a good photo better:  Ask yourself how you can make a good photograph better by changing your position, eliminating distracting items, adding elements, repositioning a subject, or waiting for the right moment or light conditions.

15.  Get creative:  Think outside the box!  Surprise the viewer with something unexpected.