While you can’t of course learn everything in one article about photography, this article provides 5 tips on the basics. Whether you have a point-and-shoot camera and rely on preset modes or you are now the proud, albeit confused, owner of a professional SLR camera, there are certain basics that once understood will send you on your way towards taking extraordinary pictures. Here are five important and easy to use tips that you can start using right away.

1) Resolve to Have Enough Resolution

Although a low resolution setting saves space on your memory card, it doesn’t make suitable prints. You can easily resize and make a picture smaller in free programs like Picasa (“resize” is hidden under “export”) but making an image larger rarely looks good. When you enlarge the picture, the pixels that make up the image are spread thinner.

If you like printing your images, choose medium or high resolution. Depending on your camera, 3 mega pixels should give you high quality 4×6 images and sometimes even a very nice 8×10. For superb 11x14s, go for 6 mega pixels.

2) Let There be Light (but Make it the Right Kind)

Natural lighting is almost always best so don’t worry if you don’t have a flash or any fancy equipment. If your only flash is the built-in one, that’s all the more reason to opt for natural light. Built in flashes can make a subject look flat. That is why professional photographers use an external flash and bounce light off photo umbrellas. There are inexpensive tricks you can do like wearing a white shirt or taping foil to the camera to bounce the light off the ceiling, but if you want an easy way to get professional quality photos without extra equipment it’s best to go outdoors.

When shooting outdoors, consider the position of the sun. The lower the sun in the sky the better, except for sunrise and dawn. Noon brings the harshest shadows. Unless the sky is part of your photograph, bright overcast days produce the best light.

3) Compose a Perfect Picture

Getting a fast snapshot of something without any thought mostly depends upon luck. But by first learning how to compose a photo, you will end up with more pictures that look good and are suitable for framing. The pictures you take will look more like what you had in mind when you clicked the shutter release.

There’s enough to the Photography 101 subject of composition to fill several articles, but for starters, here’s the number one rule. Fill the frame. First, decide on what is the most important subject in your photo and then move close enough (or zoom-optical zoom is best) to fill the viewfinder with the subject. For example, if the subject is your mother watering her roses then she is the subject not her entire rose garden. Many make the mistake of losing their subjects in the landscape.

4) Steady Now

It doesn’t take much camera movement to create a blur, in fact most times, you’ll never even notice the movement until you see the blurry picture. For sharp photographs, keep your elbows down, feet apart and hold the camera steady while pressing (not punching) the shutter release. Continue holding still until the camera’s light has indicated it is done taking the photo. When you are taking a picture that requires a slower than usual shutter speed fireworks for example support the camera with a tripod. You can even use a bunched up coat on a wall with a remote shutter release. A good rule of thumb is to use a tripod for shutter speeds slower than 1/60.