Welcome to the Canon EOS beginners' guide series, your first steps to understanding your new Canon EOS camera and towards taking better pictures. If you are new to DSLR cameras there's a lot to take in at first but don't worry there are plenty of ways that you can start using and enjoying your camera right away.
In this first guide we will introduce you to Composition, a simple way to add interest to your images and develop your photography (see What is composition?). Using these tips and tricks your photography will improve naturally, so load the battery, insert a memory card and start clicking!
At the end of this guide we suggest some ideas to try out for yourself. Share your results on our Canon Facebook page using #MyNewCanon #CanonComposition, set up especially so you can compare your photos with other new Canon EOS owners.
A great way to start taking pictures is to plan a photo outing so you can get to know your camera; a local park, interesting building or beauty spot is perfect.
Don't worry if you are unfamiliar with the many settings on your camera; we will be looking more closely at these in later guides. For now, try setting the camera to the green "A" square on the top dial. This sets up the camera automatically so you can jump straight in.
It can help to have an idea what kind of pictures you want to take before you set out. You could consider landscape, architecture, detail, etc. Have a look on the web at what other photographers have taken at the same location to give you a few ideas.
When out shooting, spend some time just looking around and see what grabs your attention. Don't feel you have to start taking pictures straight away; photography is simply recording what you see, so start looking out for what might make an interesting photo. Do remember to keep your camera to hand and switched on so you don't miss a great shot.
The picture above was taking from a standing position on the beach and is a typical record of the view.
In this picture shooting from a lower position and adding elements (the pillars and the stones) with the rule-of-thirds in mind (see The rule of thirds), makes a much more interesting Composition.
It seems obvious but try to use the viewfinder (the window just above the screen) as much as possible, rather than the screen; it is much easier to compose a good picture when looking through it. However, the screen is great for shooting at lower angles or when using the viewfinder isn't possible.
Adding interest to your images is the first step to improving your photography. Start to notice how different elements make up your pictures and ask yourself, "How can I improve this image?"
Look for interesting shapes and lines of perspective that will draw the eye into the picture; placing key subjects off centre is generally considered more aesthetic.
When taking pictures of people try positioning them to one side of the picture. Having them off-centre makes for a more pleasing Composition.
A great way to see differently is by changing your position, try crouching down or moving around your subject until you find an angle that interests you. Zoom in to isolate interesting detail and remove distracting elements, or zoom out to add drama and context.
To make engaging photos, combine objects and structures in the viewfinder. You could include people to add additional features to your picture. (see Add a sense of scale)
Zooming in on the architectural detailing made for an interesting image but waiting for a pedestrian to walk through provided an additional focus to the picture.
Be aware of distracting elements such as cranes, signs and litter, which may detract from your subject. View the scene before pressing the shutter, check your images on your camera's screen and have another go if you are not happy. (see Leading and vanishing lines)
Use the weather conditions. Bright sunshine is great for vibrant colours but grey, misty or even rainy days can also provide engaging images. If there are clouds try changing your view to include more sky. Think about detail and textures more when it's overcast.
Waiting for a pedestrian with an umbrella to walk through your rainy scene or a flock of birds to add interest to your sky can put a real finesse to your photos. You won't always get the perfect image but by putting a little thought into images and analysing afterwards you are well on your way to seeing like a photographer.
Framing the building inside the silhouetted tree branches focuses the attention in the middle of the picture and adds further interest to the sky.
Composition describes the arrangement of elements in a photograph. It can be hugely important in making your photos stand out from the crowd. There are many Composition techniques but the most simple is to change your distance from your subject, or use your zoom.
Think of it as a guide to composing your photos. You can turn on the gridlines in the settings menu and take pictures with your subjects aligned on one of the lines or at the points that the lines intersect.
Including figures in your images can add a real sense of scale, especially to wide-open scenes such as landscapes or architectural shots. Our eye will automatically be drawn to figures so consider where they are in your Composition when you press the shutter.
See how a path snakes up to a building or a handrail curves out of sight? Adding lines of perspective that lead into your picture draws the eye and can result in really interesting pictures.
Now you have read the article and have some new ideas, try them out! Use lots of different angles; you can always delete the ones you don't like. Set yourself the task of using one of the techniques we have discussed - the rule-of-thirds or leading lines, for instance.
Once you are back home, look through your photos, pick the best ones and share them with other camera owners on the Facebook page. You might be surprised how good you already are!