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8 surprising tips for amazing photos.

You have a state of the art DSLR, some top notch lenses and great accessories but your photos don't stand out.

You've honed your craft with advice from publications and blogs, taken hundreds of pictures but there is still something missing.

Surely with the equipment you have, you should be creating something special? You're worried you lack the talent, that you will never create something with real WOW factor. Your dream is to make a mark but even with all this investment in money and time, you feel that dream slipping away.

But what if you stop following every convention? Be daring, break a rule after all those rules are just guidelines, made to be broken when you know how. If you are floating in a sea of similar images, take control, grab hold of the tiller and steer a different course.

In the words of Robert Frost take "...the road less travelled by"

Try these 8 surprising tips -

1. Ditch the Rule of Thirds.

OK, so it works a lot of the time to create a picture people feel comfortable with. But you are not always after comfortable. A gritty urban landscape may be asking to be cut in two, A perfect reflection might benefit from the symmetry. A small detail in a vast landscape may look too prominent at a power point. Think about what you are trying to portray emotionally as well as visually.

The symmetry here helps convey precision.

2. Intentionally blur your landscape foregrounds.

Hyperfocal focussing isn't always your best friend. Allow the foreground to blur by reducing your depth of field. This will move the emphasis to a different area of the scene and towards your focal point while keeping the environment visible. Now that snowy footprint filled foreground has changed to a magical fairyland of beautiful bokeh.

3. Shoot in any light.

The golden hour is great for soft soothing light, but is that really all you ever want? Go out in the middle of the day and work with shadows and abstract patterns for edgy black and white images. Get moody with long exposures in stormy light.

Old Man of Storr

4. Learn from Artists.

Take a look at great images from artists down the years. They've been at image making for thousands of years! What can you learn from Monet or Mondrian, Leonardo or Lanfranco. Is there a style you can bring to your own work?

Mondrian style Duckling

5. Over or Under expose.

We are trained to look at our histograms and set exposure to create a nice normal curve. But what if we push that curve up or down? A high key image can create a magical, ethereal feel like a half remembered dream. A low key image has the opposite effect of producing a dystopian feel. How far can we push this?

Misty white sky

6. Don't take more pictures.

Take more time. Look at your results on the screen and ask yourself how you might improve it, what you could do differently. You will take fewer shots, but end up with a higher percentage of good ones.

7. Don't hide.

Get your subject accustomed to you and your camera. Wildlife shots will be all the more engaging if they are as inquisitive about you as you are about them. You are also much more free to move around and get a great background or the best light.

Inquisitive Otter

8. Tell a better story.

Don't always go for the portrait style image with your subject taking up most of the frame. Tell more of the story by including the setting, show how small and vulnerable that subject is placed in it's surroundings.

Heron Porthmadog towards Snowdonia

You now have some new ideas to add interest to your work. It could make all the difference and take your work from good to inspirational, so get out with that gear and who knows where it could lead.

If you would like regular tips on techniques and locations, why not follow this blog? Share it with your friends too!

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