Capturing images that grab attention is a goal of any photographer. It’s exactly this skill that separates a good photographer from an average one.
An image can grab the viewers attention in many ways. A typical one (especially in recent years) is through the use of strong and vivid colors. However, such images (with many exceptions, of course) tend to give only a momentarily “wow”-effect, just to be forgotten as quickly. You want to do more than this, though. You want the viewer to remember your image. You want them to come back and look at it again and again. You want to trigger a certain emotion.
This is easier said than done and it’s a skill that takes years to develop. Even after years, it’s something photographers struggle to achieve.
These tips will help you on the way to capture attention-grabbing images; Follow them and implement them and you’ll be one step closer.
#1. Have a Point of Interest
Your image must have a point of interest in order for it to grab attention. Without a strong point of interest, people are likely to pass by your image without even noticing it.
A strong point of interest doesn’t need to be a spectacular subject. Mountains are great but anything has the possibility to be a POI if used right.
Put yourself in the viewer’s shoes: is there an obvious point of interest in the image? If there isn’t a natural place for your eyes to rest, the answer is no and you need to re-evaluate the image.
Perhaps you have an interesting subject but there aren’t any elements leading your eyes towards it. In that case, try to work with the elements around you to emphasize this subject.
#2. Use Lines to Guide the Viewer
Having a point of interest is only step number one. As I mentioned above, even when you have a point of interest it might not be obvious as you don’t have any elements leading towards it.
That’s where leading lines come in. Leading lines are compositional elements found almost everywhere that will dramatically improve your images. They help guide the viewer through the frame and in many ways tell them where to look.
A very obvious leading line is a tree or a road leading directly towards the main subject. Your eyes will naturally follow these lines up to this point.
Leading lines are more than just roads and paths, though. It can be rocks, branches, cracks, mud, bushes, flowers; you name it. Anything that helps guide your eyes to the subject is considered a leading line.
#3. Use Light to Guide the Viewer
There are more ways to guide the viewer than through leading lines; directional light is another equally important method.
Light is essential in a good photograph. There’s a reason why photographers often revisit locations regularly even after months or years; they are waiting for the light that best showcases the emotions they want to bring forward in the image.
Good light is what makes the difference between a good shot and a decent. Without it, the image lacks life and is simply flat and dull. Just look at the example below. Without the light, the image wouldn’t have been anything special.
Wait for the light to become interesting. If you don’t have time then try to read how the light is impacting the current frame. Is the light harsh? Is it soft? Does it reflect on a subject? Are there sun-rays? Use the given elements to work around the scene and make the most out of the given situation.
#4. Have a Strong Composition
This is perhaps the biggest indicator of the photographer’s skill level. A strong composition makes the image more enjoyable to view and it’s a crucial part of the story told through your image.
The composition is something photographers continuously work on improving. Many believe that you’ll never fully learn compositions and that it’s something that evolves throughout your artistic career.
Guidelines such as The Rule of Thirds and The Golden Ratio are great tools to help improve your compositions but I recommend looking further than these and take other elements such as color harmonies, directional light, and visual weight into consideration as well.
Most importantly, don’t follow these “rules” too strictly. A great composition doesn’t have to be the perfect example of a compositional rule – as long as the visual flow is pleasing.
#5. Be Aware of the Weather
Unfortunately, not all weather is great for all photography. Certain scenes benefit from certain types of weather and that’s something you should take into consideration. There are always subjects to photograph but it’s a matter of being able to find those who excel in the given conditions.
Take the images below as an example. I returned to this spot countless times over a 6-month period searching for the conditions which best suited the scene. The first image shows the conditions I often had and the picture itself is nothing special. However, when the conditions one morning included colorful and quickly moving clouds, as well as a semi-rough ocean, the image became much more interesting.
Similarly, if you’re photographing the forest certain conditions will make the image more appealing; perhaps the sunlight is creating sunrays through the trees or there’s a thick layer of fog.
If you’re planning to visit a local photography spot make sure that you’ve checked the forecast and visit on a day that seems to offer the highest possibility of interesting weather.
#6. Photograph More Selectively
“Photograph as much as possible” is a common advice told to beginner photographers. While it’s a great way to learn how your camera works and to improve your skills, learn to be more selective with what you photograph; or at the very least be more selective with what you post online.
The truth is that attention-grabbing images aren’t occurring on a daily basis. In fact, 99% of the images a professional photographer captures will never see the light of day. They might be decent images but decent isn’t what they’re aiming to capture.
Ask yourself this one simple question before pushing the shutter button: Does this image have the potential to be good? If the answer is yes, then go ahead and capture it. If the answer is no, think of why it doesn’t have the potential; is the composition not good enough? Is the light boring? Is the subject boring?
Answering these questions will give you an indication whether you should make adjustments and capture the image or simply just move on.
#7. Capture More Than Just a Snapshot
That brings us to the 7th and final advice for capturing images that grab attention: Capture more than just a snapshot.
If you’re just capturing images to document your trips and travels and their purpose is to be shared with friends and family, photography anything you want. But if you’re aiming to become a better photographer and capture images that awakes an emotion within the viewer, stop ‘snapping’ images.
Ask yourself the questions given in the previous tip. Use these to determine whether or whether not you’ll capture the image. Don’t be afraid to leave a beautiful place without capturing one single image. Not all beautiful places are photogenic. Learn to enjoy the surroundings instead and don’t worry about ‘snapping’ everything with your camera.
There isn’t a blueprint for a great image, but elements such as light, composition, a point of interest, and weather play an important role. If the image is lacking these elements, will it really grab attention?
About the author: Christian Hoiberg is a full-time landscape photographer who helps aspiring photographers develop the skills needed to capture beautiful and impactful images. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Download Hoiberg’s free guide 30 Tips to Improve Your Landscape Photography and open the doors to your dream life. Hoiberg is also the founder of CaptureLandscapes. You can find more of his work on his website and Instagram. This article was also published here.
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The Huawei P20 Pro smartphone boasts the highest-scoring smartphone camera ever evaluated by DxOMark, sitting head and shoulders above its competition with an overall score of 109. Here’s how good the on-board Leica triple-camera system is: you can shoot beautiful shots of the Milky Way in the starry night sky.
Cheong shot the photo in Camera Pro mode at ISO 1600, 20s, and f/1.8. The phone was mounted to a tripod.
“I currently on Reunion Island, which has a very clear night sky free of light pollution, so it was the ideal conditions to test astrophotography with the Huawei P20 Pro,” the photographer tells PetaPixel.
Camera Pro mode allows the user to manually control all the phone’s camera settings. Cheong experimented with the same range of values he shoots with on his DSLR before settling on ISO 1600 and an exposure time of 20 seconds (the f/1.8 aperture is fixed).
What resulted was a DNG raw file that Cheong then edited using Adobe Camera Raw, adjusting white balance, clarity, vibrance, contrast, and noise reduction.
“I have been using the Huawei P20 Pro for the last 3 months,” Cheong says. “I have been really impressed by the performance of the camera in low light. I have shot many cityscapes handheld (about 4 seconds exposure) and the results were amazing.”
Image credits: Photo by Daniel K. Cheong and used with permission
The social media platform has finally taken some confusing action that probably won’t satisfy anyone.
Light-painting photography is generally done in the dark since you need long exposure times to capture moving light sources as streaks. But use can also shoot long-exposure photos in bright sunlight using a neutral density filter. Photographer Eric Paré recently did just that, experimenting with doing light-painting in afternoon daylight.
Paré used a 10-stop ND filter by NiSi on his 24mm lens and set his camera to bulb mode, triggering it with a remote shutter.
“As with my usual work, the trick here is to be able to balance three things: the ambient light, the camera settings, and the brightness of the tube,” Paré tells PetaPixel.
Since the ND filter blocks not only sunlight but also his light-painting tube light, Paré used an extremely powerful light-painting tube – one consisting of four separate 1,200-lumen flashlights for 5,000 lumens of light through a T12 Milky tube.
Here’s a 4-minute behind-the-scenes video showing Paré’s daytime light-painting experiments:
“We are aware that these are not our best pictures, but the idea was mostly to experiment with drastically different conditions,” Paré.
Now this is how you advertise an upcoming Blu-ray.
Thankfully, the plutonium samples stolen were not enough to make a nuclear bomb, but it’s still eyebrow-raising news.
I’m an avid night sky photographer that cut my teeth capturing the stars using the original Canon 6D. I shot with that camera for years until purchasing the Sony a7S (Mark I) after reading about how it could essentially “see in the dark.”
Using the Sony mirrorless system was a big change coming from Canon and no matter how awesome the images were, I never learned to love it.
After reading countless reviews of the Canon 5D Mark IV that touted its dynamic range and low light performance, I sold the a7S and made the leap into the new Canon flagship camera. I was not disappointed, as the new sensor was absolutely incredible for night sky photos. The resolution, dynamic range and high ISO performance was a welcome upgrade from my aging 6D and had a bigger “wow” factor than even the a7S I could deliver. The 5D Mark IV became my go-to camera for astrophotography.
Earlier this year, Sony announced the a7 III and it completely blew people away with the specs, especially given the price. The hype was then amplified when reviewers backed up the spec boost with amazing first-hand reviews. Sony was also well known for dominating in low light performance, so naturally, I was keen on getting my hands on the new camera and put it to the test.
I made a 2-part video series in which I put the more expensive Canon 5D Mark IV up against the cheaper Sony a7 III to see how the two compared when shooting the night sky. I tested the dynamic range, compare images at various ISOs, and tested with some really long exposure shots using a star tracker. The goal of the test was to see which camera could deliver the best results as well as delivering the most value for the dollar spent.
In the first 13-minute video above, I head out into the field and share my first impression of each camera when shooting with them. I used the same lenses on each camera, the Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 and the Canon 35mm f/1.4 II. I adapted the Canon glass on the a7 III using the Sigma MC-11.
In the second 40-minute video above, I’m back home pixel peeping and comparing the images to see how the cameras performed and give my final conclusion and recommendation. The video’s sections are: Dynamic Range (2:20), ISO 3200/6400/12800/25600 Review (7:04), Long Exposure 120s/300s Review (17:21), Star Eater (24:11), Post Processed Image (27:51), and Conclusions (32:53).
After spending quite a bit of time with each of these cameras I was surprised with the outcome. If anyone is in the market for a full frame camera to shoot photographs of the stars, I think this comparison would help you decide which way to go.
What camera would I recommend? I would recommend the Sony a7 III.
About the author: Matt Quinn is a dark sky and nature photographer based in the Waterloo Region of Canada. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.