Better Pictures From Your Digital Camera

Author: Carol Miller

Have you ever looked at someone else’s pictures and wondered why they are so much better than yours are, even though you may even have a better camera? The truth is that it’s not usually the camera, but the way it’s used that makes a great picture. If you take the time to learn how your camera works to practice basic photography techniques, you can greatly enhance your digital photography surprisingly quickly. The following pointers will help you see noticeable improvement in your photos.

Understand how your camera operates.

Even though most cameras come with a “Point and Shoot” or “Auto” mode, by relying on this for all of your shots, you are seriously restricting your chances of taking excellent pictures. It’s typical that cameras have many modes, and by analyzing the shot and choosing the correct mode, you’ll find your photographs will be much improved. Some common modes are: “Portrait” use this when taking people shots if you would like to have the subject in focus and the background (if it’s distant) somewhat indistinct; “Action” for quickly moving subjects, or in a low-light situation and prefer not to use the flash, use this mode to have the camera pick a fast shutter speed, which will freeze a moving object; “Scenery” this mode selects settings for distance shots; “Nighttime” choose this for low-light situations if you have a tripod, as the shutter speed will be slow and motion will be blurred; “Macro” this allows for extreme close-ups, perfect for photographing nature, such as insects or flowers. When you choose the right mode, the camera can work with you to capture your subject in the most excellent way possible. You may also have manual settings available on your camera, but the use of these is not covered in this article, as they require more advanced technique.

Take care in how you set up your picture.

Most of the time, people taking a picture look only at the object in the center and then are surprised when they view the picture and see a flagpole emerging from their fathers hat! Radically improve the quality of your photos simply by taking a moment to look at what the camera is seeing – the whole shot. Notice some unsightly wires across the top, any annoying objects in the background, and if so, take steps to alter the shot to remove these problem areas. When taking pictures of people, consider having them fill most of the frame. Faces make appealing photos, usually more so than whole bodies, for the most part. Chose what the point of the picture is, and then take the shot with that in mind. Taking care in the setting up stage will be well rewarded.

Carefully choose your camera angle.

In horror films, you may have noticed that when a malevolent person is filmed, it is often from a lower angle looking up, which alters the bad guy and makes him look frightening. When taking still photographs, it is also true that angling your shot will produce a distortion, creating a point of view, often not one you had in mind. Be sure that you are even with your subject unless you intend to generate a specific effect. Photos of children and animals are often dramatically improved by adjusting camera level. When you become level with them, you correct the usual distortion that occurs when taking the shot from above. For pets and babies, lying on the floor usually helps to take better pictures.

Rely on natural lighting if at all possible.

Flash, particularly the standard camera-mounted flash, lends itself to issues for your pictures, such as harsh shadows, color washout, red-eye, and over and under-exposure. There are times when it is essential to use a flash, like at an indoor event where people are moving constantly, but you will almost always get a better outcome by using natural light, including indoor lamps. You can take striking indoor portraits by surrounding your subject with lamps, with one side of the subject more brightly lit than the other, creating soft, interesting shadows. Experiment with different lighting – you’ll be amazed at the beauty of pictures taken like this.

Be sure to hold the camera steady.

Even though this point is fairly obvious, it is good to be reminded of it. When the camera moves around while shooting, the resulting photo will be blurry. Squeeze the shutter button rather than push it. When taking shots in low light, be sure to use a tripod or some other form of support.

Shoot tons of pictures.

Now that we have the digital camera, being miserly with your picture-taking doesn’t make any sense. There’s no film, no processing, and you only print what you like, so go ahead and take lots of tries. Professional photographers take many shots of each scene, since they know that each one is slightly different, and taking more improves the chance of an exceptional shot. Play around with lighting, angles and composition. If you’re taking moving subjects, you should use the “Burst” setting if your camera has one, to take many pictures in quick succession. At the end of the day, you’ll find you have many more “keepers”.

Take batteries and an extra memory card with you.

There’s nothing worse than getting ready to take the most important shot of the day, and finding that your battery has just run out. Think like the pros and be prepared. Have an extra charged battery, or a pack if your camera uses alkaline batteries, and take a spare unused memory card. Someday you’ll be thankful you did.

The distinction between a snapshot taker and a photographer lies not so much in the camera, but in the way the camera is employed. Practice the basics laid out here, and you will be using the techniques of professional photographers – knowing how your camera operates and using settings for the suitable situations, carefully designing the shot, being aware of your camera angle, using flash cautiously and with care, properly supporting the camera, taking lots and lots of pictures, and being prepared.

Take the time to get to know your camera, and go out and take pictures. Soon you will be shooting photographs that you can proudly keep always.

At you can find lots of ways to enhance your photography, even if you’re just {beginning|starting to “go digital”.


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