Top Tips From Your DPE Team

January 2, 2010

Landscape, Photo Tips, Portrait

Hi Gang

We all love making pictures here at DPE . . . and we enjoy sharing what we have learned over the years. In this post, our team (at the time this article was posted) shares with you their top tips – in the order in which they arrived in my in-bin. I’ll update this post as new DPE writers are added. Stay tuned.


Terrie Eliker

Keep shooting, long after the sun has set

Most people think the sunset is over after the sun has dipped below the horizon. This three-shot HDR images capture was taken about 20 minutes after the sun had set, with the third exposure approaching 30 seconds. Of course, for work like this, you must have a steady tripod.


Art Howard

You only get better when no one is watching

Great images come from pushing and working when everyone else is done or has not started. When it is too cold, too far, too hot, too whatever. Keep moving, keep seeing, keep shooting even when the are no clients, no crews, no glamour. Just you and the image.


Judy Host

Keep it simple

Keep it simple. Tell a story. Shoot from the heart. Always look for the direction of light.


Chris Klapheke

Watch the eyes

Whether photographing bird or beast (including the human kind), pay special attention to your subject’s eyes.  That’s the first place most viewer’s eyes land.  If your subject has sharp eyes, a catch light and is looking right at the camera, your image will actively engage and connect the viewer.


Rob Knight

Make more interesting photographs

You want more interesting pictures? Stand in front of more interesting stuff.


Eddie Tapp

Minimize Camera Shake

Occasionally I find myself in a situation where there is low light, and I want to shoot with a low ISO setting and have to shoot at a slow shutter speed without the aid of a tripod or support other than myself. Here are a few tips:

  1. If possible stand in an “A Frame” with your feet apart
  2. Position your elbow at your ribs to steady the camera rather than having your elbow straight out
  3. Talk a deep breath and slowly exhale as you shoot
  4. Set your camera for “Continuous” or rapid shooting allowing the camera to steady after the first exposure
  5. Practice using only your finger motion to press the shutter release. Many of us use our hand movement without knowing it


Jack Hollingsworth

Go with one

Shoot the entire day with just one lens – such as the Canon 50mm f/1.2 . . . wide open.


Alan Hess

Choose your ISO carefully

Use the correct ISO setting for whatever scene you are shooting. Today’s cameras allow you to use a wide range of ISOs with little digital noise. I used to be afraid to push the ISO above 800 over concerns of digital noise, but now I shoot at 1600 and higher. Using a higher ISO allows you to use faster shutter speeds to freeze action and narrower apertures to increase the depth-of-field. This shot of Britt Daniel of Spoon was shot using ISO of 1600.


Dave Wilson


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Reset all the controls on your camera to “normal” after a day’s shooting, so you’re ready for the next day’s shooting as soon as the day starts.


Rosh Sillars

Use a 135mm f/2.8 lens for events

Use a 135mmf 2.8 lens during events.  It’s  longer, lighter and a stealth lens. It allows the photographer to capture great moments and is light and fast enough to capture podium shots in lower light.


Jeremy Pollack

Do it every day

Pick up your camera and shoot every day!  Even if it is only for 10 minutes, make an image. Explore and express your vision, and at the same time get yourself completely familiar with your gear so it is second nature to operate it and it becomes an extension of you and your vision, not an impediment to it.


Juan Pons

Watch the background

Mind your backgrounds, the background can make or break your images. I find myself concentrating as much on my backgrounds as on my subjects.


John Paul Caponigro

Take a walk

Walk more than a mile. Enjoy natural preserves in solitude.


Rick Sammon

The camera looks both ways

When you are looking through your camera’s viewfinder, remember that that camera looks both ways: in picturing the subject, you are also picturing a part of yourself. Know that the mood, energy, and emotion that you project will be reflected in your subject.


Bull Schmitt

Get up early and stay out late

Be willing to get up early, stay out late, and take a chance even when the conditions are not perfect.  As Rick says, to go to the next level you must “make pictures” not just take them.  Part of the process is putting yourself in the right position at the right time.  It might not be easy to get up thirty minutes earlier, stay out well after sunset, or hike through the fog or rain but the results just might surprise you.  I took this shot at sunrise in Morro Bay, CA on a very foggy morning.  When we arrived at the beginning of our hike the visibility was only about 20′.  We took the chance and ended up at the very top of a turbulent fog layer.  Every time it “bounced” we had an incredible view of the veiled sunrise.  Image is a two shot stitched panorama from a Canon 5D Mk II, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, Induro C213, and Really Right Stuff BH-55.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 171 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

Canon Explorer of Light Rick Sammon has published 36 books, including Exploring the Light and Digital Photography Secrets.

When asked about his photo specialty, Rick says, “My specialty is not specializing.”

You can follow Rick on twitter at and visit his website at

Contact the author

10 Responses to “Top Tips From Your DPE Team”

  1. John Says:

    Thanks for the info. I think I am going to print this off and hang it in my cube. Truly inspirational information!

    Love the site!


  2. Darrin Says:

    This was a great post. I loved all the quick short tips from many different artists, followed by an example of their work.


  3. Chanelle Says:

    Love it! I’m new to all this and never thought to “reset” my camera at the end of the day. Thanks!


  4. Andy Solaini Says:

    What a great post. It was really nice to have a mix of some technical tips as well as some really simple ones like shoot one image every day.


  5. Bill Swindaman Says:

    Great list — one to put on the bulletin board.


  6. rick sammon Says:

    Hi All

    Glad you like what our team has to say!



  7. John Henry Says:

    If I can be so pretentious as to throw my own tip into the mix.

    Play. Seriously, take the camera and just experiment. Play with composition, play with angles play with everything about taking a picture.

    I did this and came up with a picture called lone birch that I really like, and a few that I really hated and will never see the light of day. :) But I’m smarter for the exercise. (At least I think so…)


  8. shameek Says:

    Hi I was just directed to your blog from Scott Kelby’s site and I think it’s a great resource. I just wanted to comment that as I was going through this post, I realized that Alan Hess’s picture of Spoon looked awfully familiar!!

    I made this picture:

    when Spoon played at my University last year. Awesome!! Looking forward to following your blog.


  9. Mama Z Says:

    WOW! Truly great tips. I’m disabled and can’t walk far, but find so many things to shoot from my car window…I usually shoot in the early morning hours, but I’m now encouraged to go out at sunset. Thanks.



  1. […] the Digital Photo Experience today. It is top tips from the whole Digital Photo Team. Check it out HERE. I love the tip from John Paul Caponigro; Take a walk. It is simple and have an added bonus of […]

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