Photo Tips

Learn the basics of photography with clever close-ups and amazing angels.

Creative Compositions-close-ups, angles, color, light.

  1. Get down on their level. Hold your camera at the subject's eye level. This angle by itself will create a personal and inviting feeling.
  2. Use a plain background. Before taking a picture, check the area behind your subject. Lookout for trees or poles sprouting from your subject's head. A cluttered background will be distracting while a plain background will emphasize your subject.
  3. Use flash outdoors. Even outdoors, use the fill flash setting on the camera to improve your pictures. Use it in bright sunlight to lighten dark shadows, especially when the sun is directly overhead or behind your subject. Use it on cloudy days, to brighten and make your subject stand out from the background.
  4. Move in close. To create impactful pictures, move in close and fill your picture with the subject. Move a few steps closer or use the zoom until the subject fills the viewfinder. You will eliminate background distractions and show off the details in your subject. For small objects, use the camera's macro or 'flower' mode to get sharp close-ups.
  5. Take some vertical pictures. Many subjects look better in a vertical picture- from the Eiffel Tower to sculptures at the Gardens. Make a conscious effort to turn your camera sideways and take some vertical pictures.
  6. Lock the focus. Lock the focus to create a sharp picture of off-center subjects 1. Center the subject. 2. Press the shutter button half way down. 3. Re-frame your picture while still holding the shutter button. 4. Finish by pressing the shutter button all the way.
  7. Move it from the middle. Bring your picture to life simply by placing your subject off-center. Imagine a tic-tac-toe grid in your viewfinder. Now place your subject at one of the intersections of lines. Since most cameras focus on whatever's in the middle, remember to lock the focus on your subject before re-framing the shot.
  8. Know your flash's range. Pictures taken beyond the maximum flash range will be too dark. For many cameras that's only ten feet- about four steps away. Check your manual to be sure. If the subject is further than ten feet from the camera, the picture may be too dark.
  9. Watch the light. Great light makes great pictures. Study the effects of light in your pictures. Choose the soft lighting of cloudy days. Avoid overhead sunlight that casts harsh shadows. Use the long shadows and color of early and late daylight.
  10. Be a picture director. Take an extra minute and become a picture director, not just a passive picture-taker. Add some props, rearrange your subjects, or try a different viewpoint.

Composing Your Pictures

Just as a composer uses all the instruments in a symphony to create a stirring piece of music, you should compose each picture so that its parts work together to create a work of beauty. Each item in a picture has an effect on the whole, so don't just point and shoot. Take a little time to compose each picture into the masterpiece it could be.

Shoot vertical or horizontal.

Choose a main point of interest.

Adjust your angle of view.

Place the subject off-center.

Avoid distracting backgrounds.

Include foreground objects.


Flowers charm and enchant the eye with their dazzling colors and delightful shapes. Here are some tips to help make your flower pictures equally charming and enchanting.

Use a simple background. Find a position that provides a plain, non-competing background. Or place a black or pleasingly colored cardboard behind the flower.

Get close. If your camera has a close-up focusing mode, use it and get as close as the camera manual suggests.

Shoot at different angles. Vary the level of your viewpoint. Shoot sown to create attractive pinwheel patterns of daisies; kneel to the level of other flowers, such as tulips and daffodils.

Use creative lighting. Observe the lighting on your flowers. Backlighting shining through some flowers gives them an appealing glow. Cloudy-day lighting reveals subtle hues.

Control or use the wind. Is the wind tossing your tulip around? Bring the tulip indoors and create an attractive still life that you can easily photograph. Or, photograph the flowers dancing in the wind and create an impressionist look.


Show the overall design. Big or small, nearly every garden has a design. Stand well back and, if possible, higher- a second story window or a mound-to reveal the overall design of the garden.

Add interest and depth to your overall shots. To spark up your general shots showing a wide area of garden and to give depth to your picture, include something in the foreground- a rosebush, a brightly colored flower bed, or a birdbath. Consider locking in the focus on the closer object.

Place the point of interest off-center. Your picture will be more interesting if the point of interest is not in the center of the picture. Consider putting the treetops or tallest flowers in the flower bed a third of the way down from the top of your viewfinder, or the prize dahlia, flowering bush, or sculpture a third of the way in from the left or right. Experiment until you find a composition that appeals to you. Lock the focus so that your subject will be in focus


Include a strong point of interest. Your eye needs a place to rest in the picture, so include something of interest- a clump of colorful flowers, a cloud in the sky, a hill, a tree, a bridge, a sculpture.

Include an interesting object in the foreground. A branch, a boulder, a fence-include an object in the foreground to add depth to your picture.

Place the point of interest off-center. The picture will be more interesting if the horizon or your point of interest is not in the center of the picture. Put the horizon a third of the way down from the top, or up from the bottom of the frame, or the subject a third of the way in from the left or right. Experiment until you find a composition that appeals to you.

Include people for scale. The hill may not look all that big, especially in a photo-until you put a person next to it. In some scenes, including a person adds a sense of awe by showing the sheer size of your subject.

Use lines to lead the eye. Lines, such as a road, a river, or a fence, direct attention into your picture. Select a spot or an angle where major lines in the scene lead your eye toward the main center of interest.

Wait for the right light. The best light is in the early morning, shortly after sunrise, or late afternoon when the sun is low. Noonday sunlight is harsh and less appealing, so if you have the option, take pictures early or late in the day.

Scavenger Hunt






6.dark and light



10.from the ground



13.favorite color

14.opposite colors (purple/yellow, red/green, blue/orange) color







22.emphasize a right angle




Upcoming Events:

Art. Downtown.

A curated show. "ROOTED"

Friday April 11, 2014.

Photography/Nature Opportunities with Dianne Carroll Burdick

April 2014

1.April 5, 2014, 11am-1pm, Downtown Market, 435 Ionia Ave SW, Grand Rapids, Mi 49503

Photography Basics in the Greenhouse

Learn the basics of point and shoot photography in our beautiful rooftop greenhouse. Dianne Carroll Burdick will take you through tips to see images from a different perspective in order to capture the beautiful images true-to-life. Practice your new tricks while photographing in the natural light filled with herbs, greens, and tropicals. You'll complete a "scavenger hunt" with your camera to capture abstract ideas, enhancing the beauty of your pictures. $30.00, Adults 16+

2. April 9, 2014, 10am-12noon, Frederik Meijer Gardens, 1000 East Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, Mi. 49525



Learn the basics of photography with creative composition, clever close-ups, and eye-opening angles. Take an outdoor adventure walk for inspiration. Bring a fully charged digital camera.

Ages 8-10

Cost: Members $20Non-Members $27

3. April 19, 2014, 2-3:30pm, Fred Meijer Trail Network @ Millennium Park,1415 Maynard Ave SW, Walker, Mi. 49534 organized by the Adult Program/Earth Week/Grand Rapids Public Library

Nature Photography Walk

April 19 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Discover the beauty of springtime through your camera lens! Photographer Dianne Carroll Burdick will lead a photography walk along the Fred Meijer Trail Network at Millennium Park. Join her for a scavenger hunt of shapes, textures, perspectives, angles, and viewpoints, all through the vehicle of nature. Learn tips and tricks for shooting natural elements in varying light, at various times of day, and throughout the year. Bring your own camera. All skill levels welcome. Meet at the off-season parking lot on Maynard (right across from the main entrance to the beach area).

Kendall College of Art and Design/Continuing Studies Program

May/June 2014

Digital Photography

Fine Art photography

July/August 2014

Digital photography

Fine Art photography

Portrait photography

Courtesy: Dianne Carroll Burdick


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