We‰Ûªre all guilty of buying a new camera and assuming that just because it has fifty different functions and more pixels than you can count on your fingers, it will automatically improve your photography skills. 

In reality, technique is more important than the camera itself, but the good news is anyone can take good photographs simply by learning a little bit about their camera and learning the basics.

Below we‰Ûªve collated some of the best tips and advice on how to take great photographs, ready for when you‰Ûªre out and about on your expedition. You may even gain the skills to win our photo competition this year!

Read the manual!

It sounds obvious, but so many of us are guilty of just taking our brand new cameras out of the box, leaving the settings on auto and expecting incredible panoramic photographs, but the truth is, simply learning more about how your particular model works could improve your photos.

Learn the basics

Taking photographs is the camera opening it’s lens shutter and exposing either film or a digital sensor which records what is front of it. Varying the amount of time the lens is open for, and how wide the lens opens, will affect the light levels and focus of the image. Simple!

Exposure and shutter speed is how long the shutter stays open for, and the longer you open it for, the more light gets in. If you leave the lens open for too long, then it is likely that your photograph will blur.

Aperture is how wide the camera lens opens. The wider you open it, the more light gets in. Aperture also affects the ‰Û÷depth of field‰Ûª or ‰Û÷focal length‰Ûª which means how much of your image is in focus. Shallow focal length is good for portraits of people, making the subject focused against a blurry background, and extended depth of field is good for landscape photographs, to capture all of the detail in a panoramic shot.

ISO is the speed or sensitivity of your film or digital sensor. For example, in daylight, you should want a low ISO, probably between 100 (for bright sunny days) and 400 (for rotten cloudy days). The higher the ISO the more sensitive your camera is, meaning your photos may look grainy or fuzzy. This explains why photographers always require lots of lighting when they‰Ûªre taking professional photographs, as to make sure that their ISO is lower.

Put it all together

Using this basic information and applying the different settings to your camera when setting up a shot will instantly help improve your photographs. Getting nice photographs is largely about choosing the right ISO for your environment and then balancing exposure and aperture so that you have enough light to have a nice bright image (without blurring) but also a good depth of field with good focus on your subject. You can vary both shutter speed and aperture to counterbalance each other to get this correct.

Check a few settings on your camera before you get snapping

Have a look at the camera‰Ûªs resolution before you start taking photographs. If you don‰Ûªt have a big enough memory card for your camera to take instant high resolution photographs, then at least make sure the camera quality setting is set to ‰Û÷fine.’

Have a read through your camera‰Ûªs manual to learn how to set your camera‰Ûªs white balance. Often overlooked, the white balance adjusts the image to compensate for the fact the colour ‰Û÷temperature‰Ûª of the sun’s light changes throughout the day. If the colour temperature set on your camera doesn’t match the colour temperature of the lighting you’re taking the photo in, you’re likely to get a slight tint of colour on some of the lighter subjects in your image.

Practice makes perfect

Before your expedition, why not take your camera around your local area and try out some interesting shots? Try taking photographs with your camera on automatic and then try taking the same photographs after adjusting the settings following the guide above? Getting out there and having a go is the best way to learn, and you‰Ûªll probably be taking great shots in no time, ready for your expedition of a life time!

Use a camera, not a camera phone

Camera phones are awesome, but not ideal for taking high quality photographs for an adventure or expedition that lasts more than a day. They don’t have the same capabilities and settings, and the size of a photo taken with a camera phone is considerably smaller, so the quality of the image may not be as good as one taken with an actual camera. The memory space is limited as well, meaning by day three, you may have to start deleting photos you really don’t want to. A lot of cameras are now designed specifically for the adventurer photographer, being waterproof, shockproof and even drop-proof! I don’t know any mobile phone that’s one of those things…