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There are many simple steps that even the novice photographer can apply to improve the quality of his or her work. Several elements can be utilized to formulate better pictures without having to spend a fortune on expensive and complex cameras and equipment.

Composition is one of the most basic elements in photography. You must choose a subject and then capture it in an appealing way. Try to pick one or two main subjects to focus in on. Simplicity, contrast and balance will take an ordinary subject and turn it into an extraordinary subject.

Backgrounds are very important in photography. Too much clutter can detract from the main subject of your photograph. Try to avoid a busy or conflicting pattern in the background as well as too much or too little light.

Foregrounds can also disrupt a photograph. Watch out for tree limbs, fences, or anything else that may throw the focus of your main subject. It is very difficult to shoot around or through these obstacles without the use of zoom or telephoto lens that can crop them out.

Focus is important as well. Some photographs are meant to be sharp and crisp in the detail of the subject while others try to attain a softer, hazier look. Depth of field may also be a factor if you have two subjects that are not equal in distance from the camera. It is also important to follow the range that your camera allows. Most point and shoot cameras require that you be at least 4 feet away from your subject to take a clear picture using the built in auto focus mechanism.

Lighting can be difficult to deal with at times, especially when using all natural or existing lighting. Backlighting may also cause the subject in the foreground to appear too dark unless a flash or fill-flash is used to compensate for the lighting conditions. Fill-flash is also helpful when the subject is in front of a totally dark background. This will prevent the subject from appearing washed out. There are also many creative uses for flash in photography to give artistic impressions to the primary subject.

Film Selection is important in order to have the finished product reflect the image you are trying to portray. For bright outdoor settings, slower speed films will give the best results. They offer vibrant color, minimal grain, and sharp details. Faster speed films will allow the photographer to freeze the action and capture subjects in low light settings.

Rule of Thirds is a principle that is taught in photography as well as graphic design. It simply states that the eye will naturally focus first on a point that is about 2/3 up the page and in the center of the page. By visualizing your subject and field of view in thirds both horizontally and vertically, you can achieve more symmetry and balance in your photographs.

Lines are important in gaining and directing your viewers' eyes. They give a photograph direction and movement by flowing through the picture or connecting with other lines to lead the attention in a different direction.

Framing can alter the end result of a photograph. The same subject and setting can be photographed vertically and then horizontally with completely different perspectives being perceived in the final work. Some settings like portraits lend themselves to vertical angles while landscapes lend themselves to horizontal angles. Reversing these angles will lead to a more unique and creative look to a standard subject. For example, buildings along a city's skyline may appear taller when photographed vertically.

Studying your subject before snapping a picture is one of the most important things to remember in photography. Make sure that the entire subject is within the frame and there are no obstructions to the lens. Make sure that the camera is steady and you know where your main subject is or where it is going. It is not just a matter of taking all the shots that you can and hoping for a few good ones. Taking the time to think about your actions before making them is the first step to taking better pictures. Careful shot selection can reduce the quantity of photographs you take while improving their quality.