Hints and Tips

Some useful hints from Scott Wiggins, if you have some that you'd like to share please contact us through the form on the About page.

Looking after your camera and lenses

Caring for your camera and lenses will help to prolong their lives and ensure that you get the best results from your photography. Click here for a full guide on how to do this.

How to mount your pictures for competition

A comprehensive guide on how to mount your pictures and the best places to find mount board can be found here.


Landscape Tips

  • Use a tripod to hold the camera steady. Extend the bottom legs of your tripod by about a hands width.  This will prevent the bottom clamps from fouling with mud and dirt.  Remember to adjust the Image Stabilisation setting on your lenses if using a tripod.

  • Invest in a waterproof cover or carry some plastic bags and elastic bands that you can use to keep your camera dry.

  • Use the lowest ISO possible to minimise digital noise.

  • A small hot shoe spirit level is an essential tool for ensuring the camera is horizontal when taking pictures to avoid skewed horizons.  Sometimes you will need to rotate the horizon for better composition though even though you have captured it correctly.

  • A remote release will help prevent camera shake when using long exposures.

  • If you don't have Neutral Density graduated filters then use exposure compensation to ensure you capture images without "blinkies." *  Ensure the highlight warning is turned on in camera so that you can see the "blinkies."

  • Aperture is the best mode to use in landscape photography, unless you are going for a creative effect.

  • Don’t forget your longer lenses!  A 200mm lens is great for picking out details within a landscape shot.

  • If shooting a vista try to ensure you have some foreground detail.

  • Pack a macro lens or extension tube.  If the weather is bad, get in close and shoot flowers, water droplets and textures.

Portrait Tips


  • The eyes have it.  Ensure they are the sharpest point.

  • A focal length between 50 and 135mm are said to be the most pleasing for portraits.

  • A shallow depth of field from a small aperture such as f4 at 100 – 135 mm will produce a sharp image with a nice blurred background.

  • The basic mode for portraits is aperture priority.  Program mode is also useful, especially indoors. Use the portrait setting on a point and shoot. 

  • If the subject has the sun behind them then use the flash to help fill in the subject.

  • A white piece of card makes a great reflector to help fill in shadows.

  • Check the viewfinder to ensure there isn't anything growing out of the subjects head such as a tree or lamp post.

  • Don't cut of portraits across a joint such as the knee or elbow.  Across the forearm or mid thigh will look better.

  • The commonly accepted portrait lengths are head & shoulders, half length, three quarters and full length.

  • One way to avoid red eye is to bounce your flash off a white wall.  You may need to give the flash some positive compensation to adjust for the extra distance.

Sports/Action Tips

  • You have two options, a slow shutter speed to capture the moment or a fast one to freeze the action.

  • AIServo or Continuous Focusing is the best way to keep a constant focus on a moving object.

  • The centre focusing point is the most sensitive on most modern digital SLR cameras, this will help you to keep track of your subject.

  • Use the sports or action mode on a compact camera.

  • Get in tight, action photography generally favours a close crop.

  • Utilise the burst mode to capture a range of shots, that way you can pick the best one.

  • When panning make sure your legs are apart to keep yourself balanced and to avoid twisting your back.

  • Watch the shutter speed, if you need to keep the speed up, use a higher ISO if you need to and watch your histogram to make sure you're not underexposing shots.

  • Lenses with fast focussing motors are a real advantage.

  • Using a wide aperture like f2.8 or f4 can help to make your subject stand out or pop from the background.

Photoshop Short Cuts

Some simple shortcuts to use to save time when working in photoshop. Most of these will also work in the Elements version.

  • B is for Brush Tool.

  • C is for the Crop Tool.

  • L is for Lasso.

  • D is to set the colour swatches to Black and White.

  • X is to switch the colour swatches around.

  • CTRL-L will bring up the layers tool.

  • CTRL-M will bring up the curve tool.

  • CTRL-J will duplicate a layer or a selection onto a new layer.

  • CTRL-E will merge a layer onto the one below it.

  • [ & ] will change the size of your brush, eraser, clone tool etc.

  • CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-E will merge all of your selected layers into a new layer and place this at the top.

  • When painting on a layer mask, remember that white REVEALS and black CONCEALS the effect.

  • ALT-Backspace will fill a layer with the foreground colour swatch and CTRL-Backspace will fill a layer with the background colour swatch.

* A "blinkie" is an overexposed area of a photo where all the detail has been lost.