First camera crash course: simple solutions for mastering your new DSLR

First Camera Crash Course Lesson 9: Using the Rule of Thirds

Try to avoid simply placing your subject slap-bang in the middle of your frame. By placing the focal point of your scene off-centre, along imaginary lines roughly one-third and two-thirds into the frame, you'll create a much more balanced and pleasing composition.

First Camera Crash Course Lesson 9 Using the Rule of Thirds

Too central

  • Placing horizons in the middle of your frame will create an unbalanced and boring image
  • As it stands, the sky and sea have equal weighting in the shot

First Camera Crash Course Lesson 9 achieve better balance

Better balance

  • By moving the horizon down so it is not dead centre creates a more dynamic composition
  • Don't be afraid to include more sky than land (or water) in your shot - particularly if the sky looks colourful

Final tip
Every keen amateur should own a decent tripod as it lets you have more control over depth of field and shutter speed, and will help ensure consistent results.


Rule of Thirds: use it and break it with confidence
Crop photos the right way: classic mistakes and how to avoid them
Photography Basics: the No. 1 cheat sheet for metering and exposure
Frame within a frame: composition tricks for adding depth and context

First Camera Crash Course Lesson 10: Anatomy of your viewfinder

Your viewfinder is a powerful tool for composition, but if you're new to using one it might look a little confusing. Our cheat sheet below illustrates some of the key elements within your viewfinder and explains what they are and what they do.

First Camera Crash Course Lesson 10 Anatomy of your viewfinder


What is color temperature: free photography cheat sheet
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Free family portrait photography cheat sheet
Free f-stop chart: master your aperture