100 Steps to IYP – Lesson 1: The Basics

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And with this, we begin with the 100 Steps to Improve Your Photographs (IYP) series.

All right Cadets! Time for your first lesson! Before you can become a sharp shooter, you need to know how to use your gun (which here is your camera). So we’ll start with some basic tips (where many people mess up, are unaware, or simply don’t bother).


Tip 1: Hold your gun properly, or you’ll shoot your foot!
One very basic thing that is responsible for shaky images is the way you hold your camera. I’ve seen many people holding their camera from both sides, like one would hold the steering wheel of a car. And doing this, they often end up with a finger in front of the flash. I’ve even seen people using a total of only four fingers to hold the camera. Correct that, four finger tips… the tip of the thumb and forefinger on each side, with all the fingers stretching outwards, like you’re holding something very dirty.

The correct way to hold your camera is to grip it from the right (all the better if your cam has a grip), and use your left hand to support the camera from below. This also allows for convenient handling of the lens in case of a dSLR.

Tip 2: Know your target, anticipate their moves…
Clear and simple, try and predict the moment you want to capture, and then capture it. For example, if you’re shooting a basketball match, you can get an idea that there’s going to be a dunk if the attacker is in close to the basket. So know your subject and try to predict their moves and time your shot accordingly. If you’re using a point n shoot, you’ll need to press the shutter a little before the moment, since there is a considerable time lag compared to dSLRs.

Tip 3: Prepare to get dirty and take your aim from a different position…
When I say this, I’m referring to the POV or the Point of View. Get low, get high, lie down on the ground, get up on a tree, get a view from behind, get a view from inside, experiment with POV. Use different vantage points, odd angles, and again, experiment!

This picure shows a creative POV and also shows how you should hold your camera! (Photo by Occhiovivo)


Tip 4: Keep out the distraction, crop in on the target…
Don’t have enough zoom? No worries. Can’t get close enough? No worries. Can’t keep some stupid distracting object out of the frame because of that? Improvise. CROP. Many a time you may end up in a situation where you just can’t get a closer view, but you know that’s the subject you want to capture. This is where a high megapixel count helps, because it allows you to crop your image keeping only the desired subject in the frame and leaving out all else, or simply getting a closer view of the subject. This is especially helpful in wildlife photography.

Kingfisher original

Original Picture


Kingfisher Cropped

After Cropping (This is an example of how effective and helpful cropping can be)



Tip 5: Aim, and SHOOT! And keep shooting till you hit the target.
You have digital. That means practically unlimited ammo. So take advantage of that and don’t restrict yourself from taking multiple shots. Allow yourself to experiment. Or simply keep shooting until you get the right shot. This doesn’t mean that you neglect the value of every shot. Try your best to make every shot count. But if you feel like it, shoot, shoot and then shoot a little more.

Tip 6: Learn from every shot
Don’t simply keep the shots that you like and delete the rest. Analyse where you went wrong, what you don’t like about them or what you would’ve done differently. And then, after you’ve learnt from your mistakes, you may do whatever you wish to with the remains ;)


This ends lesson one. Learn, practice and grow. And then we move on to the next lesson. And this particular Sergeant welcomes your comments and suggestions on this drill! Dismissed!

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