Good Picture Composition
PICTURE A Where does your eye go when you first look at this picture? There are clear triangle within this composition

Good Picture Composition

HOW CAN YOU IMPROVE YOUR PICTURE COMPOSITION? How to achieve good picture composition – the first thing to realise is that good picture composition does not have to be confined to landscape photography. All pictures, whether they are photographs of people in the street, animals, portraits or still-life, will have the power to attract your viewer’s eye – and hold it within the picture - if the composition is based on sound principles. So how do you improve picture composition? Answers vary according to the subject. For this reason, hard rules, despite what some photographers…

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Street Photography 1
One of Philip Dunn's earliest street photography images. A dirty, barefoot boy eats a biscuit while standing on the doorstep of his home with his mongrel dog. This picture was taken in the north of England in the 1970s with an Pentax camera - using film, of course

Street Photography 1

COULD YOU BE A STREET PHOTOGRAPHER? Could you master the art of street photography? Or are you self-conscious about pointing your camera at strangers? Nervous about carrying your gear around in public? Philip Dunn offers guidance on how to relax while taking pictures and build your confidence to become an effective street photographer. The most easily accessible location for photography is right outside your own front door – in the street if you happen to live in town. Out there people are coming and going about there daily lives, and the houses, buildings and surroundings…

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Photography Courses in Shrewsbury
Dog walker on Porthill Bridge - what a great spot to photograph people in Shrewsbury

Photography Courses in Shrewsbury

Photography Courses in Shrewsbury It's taken a couple of years, but, at last I'm in a position to 'get out more' and again start sharing my lifelong passion for photography. I've started by running Photography Courses in Shrewsbury. For 15 years until 2016 we ran countless photography courses, 121s and workshops in the lovely town of Kirkcudbright in SW Scotland. The people there were so delightful that it was a joy to take my students through the town taking pictures in the street. People, buildings, the harbour, churches, fishing boats, the river - anything and…

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Photographing Birds in the Snow
Blackbird V Fieldfare - it seems a pretty even contest - but you have to be quick to capture it on camera

Photographing Birds in the Snow

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE GARDEN SNOW Although I have always had a deep interest in the wildlife that surrounds us, I don't claim to be a nature photographer. It is a branch of photography about which I know little, and so I have great respect for those who achieve beautiful pictures of wild animals. But I still love photographing birds in the snow.   PHOTO DRAMA OUTSIDE THE KITCHEN WINDOW No, my 'prey' has mostly been of the human kind - capturing people unawares in the street or in moments of drama or joy. That…

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Understanding Light – its colour

COLOUR TEMPERATURE The colour of the light we use has a direct effect on our photographs. But there’s no need to get bogged down with technicalities to make the most of this colour temperature. An understanding of the colour, or temperature, of light is essential if you want to get the most from every subject and all situations. Not least because when you understand what’s going on you can take steps to avoid simple mistakes. It will also open up the most wonderful opportunities for capturing and emphasising colours in situations when you might otherwise…

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Understanding Light – its quality
High quality light has no harsh, sharp edges on the shadows. It's soft and there is detail in those shadows - yet the light can still be directional as in theis picture taken in a potter's dusty studio. Photograph by Philip Dunn

Understanding Light – its quality

THE QUALITY OF LIGHT What’s all this about the quality of light? Philip Dunn shows you how to recognise good light - and improve it when it’s not so good. When asked to define the quality of light, there are some photographers who go all precious and claim it’s the sort of thing that only ‘artistic’ people (like themselves presumably) can recognise. Well, as I’m only a simple photographer I’ll try to be a bit more objective.   HARSH OR DIFFUSED LIGHT? I think of the quality of light in terms of its softness or…

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Understanding Light – its direction
It's not just the old man's face and beard that brings impact to this portrait. I is the strong side light. That's what is emphasizing the texture of his skin. I deliberately positioned my subject beside a small window. Photography by Philip Dunn

Understanding Light – its direction

THE DIRECTION OF LIGHT Good light is the photographer’s most vital yet least understood ingredient. It’s more important than a whole bagful of expensive gear. Let's get to grips with the direction of light. Let’s face it, you can’t take photographs without it so the more you get to grips with it the better. An understanding of light will transform the way you see and enable you to express yourself visually. It will help you highlight the vibrancy of colours, create visual mood, pick out the textures of everything from stone walls to wrinkly faces,…

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Mixed Light Photography
Philip Dunn's students get to grips with the technique of using mixed-light

Mixed Light Photography

HOW TO USE MIXED LIGHT Ever wondered how to create those wonderful atmospheric photographs where golden light from a house window streams into the cold, blue light of the street? You must have seen them – National Geographic photographers use this technique all the time when taking pictures of villages or towns. It's called mixed light photography, and advertising photographers use it when photographing hotels and guest houses. It’s a really old trick to make the place look cosy and inviting – the front door is often left open so that yellow light spills out…

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Photo Technique Articles
Mixing the high temperature blue light of early evening with the yellow of artificial tungsten light has added considerably to the atmosphere of this photograph taken for You Magazine

Photo Technique Articles

Photo Technique Articles The old PhotoActive website blog had a vast store of photo technique articles. I am starting here with a clean sheet - a new website, a new base here in Shropshire - and a new plan for the photography courses and workshops. But all those photo-technique articles are just as valid now as they were before. I know for certain that they have helped countless photographers. So my plan is to re-post them here over time. There are many new articles planned to help you improve your photography and enable you to capture…

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Street Photography on the beach
Lovers on the beach - a really intimate picture of two people cuddling up together on a chilly beach near Kirkcudbright in Scotland

Street Photography on the beach

VALENTINES DAY PHOTOGRAPHY As it's Valentine's Day, I thought I would give this old picture another airing. Well, today is all about lovers, after all, so what about a spot of Valentine's Day photography - and what could be more pleasant than photographing lovers on the beach - even if it was a very misty and chilly beach.   Canon Powershot compact digital I took this picture while working alongside one of my one-to-one photography students in Scotland a few years ago. It was captured on one of my favourite little cameras - a Canon…

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