Peter Noble’s Top-10 guide to better pictures

1. Use a tripod whenever you are taking a photograph of a landscape or a building. Check the corners of the frame that you've created for intruding objects and vignetting.

2. Don't just treat landscapes as horizontal images, quite often a composition can be more effective as an upright – it is always a good idea to consider this option first.

3. When shooting water, set up the composition of a stream or waterfall then set your aperture to f22 so that you get an exposure of around 1/8th of a second to retain detail. Any longer than this and the water will be "just white".

4. When shooting sunsets or at dusk – times when colours are very subtle – avoid the use of warm-up filters. These can sometimes override the natural colour of the scene and create an artificial quality.

5. Shots of lakes and beaches can be improved by using a polarising filter, even on overcast days. It increases colour saturation and makes water appear more translucent. Take care about how much polarising you do, because this can have a detrimental effect on the quality of skies.

6. When shooting subjects close to the camera, it's best to use a small aperture, because depth of field will decrease quite considerably. Subjects such as these need to be sharp overall to be effective.

7. Early morning is a wonderful time to shoot reflections on lakes or ponds because it is likely that the wind will be calm and not ruffle the water. Use a warm-up filter, either an 81A or 81B, to enhance the warmth of the hour of the day.

8. When photographing old buildings take a more distant viewpoint to get the structure and shape right. This will enable you to keep the camera level and enhance any foreground detail in your composition.

9. To photograph people within a setting, a wide-angle lens will allow you to get quite close to your subject and include a large background area.

10. Work with the "rule of thumb" when you compose your picture. There should be foreground interest, middle distance interest and background interest.

Peter Noble is a former trustee of the Royal Photographic Society

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