Tips for Shooting Great Digital Photos

Discussion in 'Graphics Programs and Photo Gallery' started by gary_hendricks, Dec 18, 2004.

  1. gary_hendricks

    gary_hendricks TPF Noob!

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    Here's a list of tips I've compiled for shooting great digital photos. Hope you guys will find it useful.

    1. Using the Flash for Outdoor Portraits
    Very few people know that you can (and should) take control of the flash when shooting outdoor pictures. Learn to control the flash so it goes on when you want it to, not when the camera deems it appropriate, I guarantee you can start achieving better outdoor shots.

    A good technique is to put your model in the shade under a tree, then use the flash to illuminate the subject. By keeping the subject cool and comfortable, you'll get a more relaxed looking portrait.

    2. Watch that White Balance
    The default white balance setting, which is set to auto for most digital cameras, can cause problems in your shots. I've found that leaving the white balance setting on auto may leave your digital shots a bit on the 'cool' side.

    Next time you're shooting outdoor portraits and sunny landscapes, try changing your white balance setting from auto to cloudy. This adjustment is equivalent to putting a mild warming filter on your camera. Doing this increases the red and yellow tones, resulting in richer, warmer pictures.

    3. Experiment with the Macro Mode
    A neat digital photography technique is the macro mode. Learn to activate the close up mode on your digital camera, usually represented by a flower symbol. You'll be amazed at the different perspectives you get on simple, everyday objects when they're framed in macro mode.

    Get as close to an object as your camera will allow. Once you've found something to your liking, hold the shutter button down halfway to allow the camera to focus. Only depress the shutter all the way down when the confirmation light gives you the go ahead.

    4. Hold the Camera Level
    Holding the camera level when using the LCD monitors is an important part of taking great digital photos. Next time you're taking a outdoor shot, try looking for the horizontal lines in nature and use them as guides. An example is to use a strip of land, or perhaps the horizon. Practice level framing of your shots and over time, the process will become more natural to you.

    5. Polarized Shots
    Attaching a polarizing filter to your camera is highly recommended for landscapes and general outdoor shooting. This type of filter reduces glare and unwanted reflections - resulting in richer, more saturated colors, in your photos.

    If your camera can't accommodate a polarizing filter, then you can try this little trick which I've been using for years on my point-and-shoot camera. If you have a pair of quality sunglasses, then simply take them off and use them as your polarizing filter! Place the glasses as close to the camera lens as possible and make sure the rims are not blocking the shot. Try it, it works.

    6. The Tripod is an Essential Tool
    Please remember this tip. Tripods are an essential tool to every digital photographer and should be used when necessary. They are not restricted to 'professional' photographers (a common misconception). Why are tripods an invaluable accessory? Because they lend stability to an otherwise jittery shot.

    The problem is that some tripods are pretty bulkly to carry around. Well, you may want to try the UltraPod II by REI. This compact, versatile, ingenious device fits in your back pocket and enables you to steady your camera in a variety of situations. I think it goes for about $15.

    7. Learn to Use the Self-Timer
    Are you taking so many photos that you're missing from your family photo albums? Well, here's the solution - the self-timer. Sure, you could hand your camera over to strangers while you jump in the shot. But then you'll have to worry about them dropping it or running off with it!

    When using the self-timer, first find a good stable surface to place the camera and compose the shot. Make sure the focusing sensor is aimed at a person in the group and not the distant background. That way, the pictures will turn out nice and sharp.

    Another way to use the self-timer is to make long exposures of cars driving over a highway at dusk. Simply secure your camera on a tripod, then trip the shutter using the self timer.

    8. Slow Motion Water Effects
    Here's a nice effect to use when taking outdoor shots which are near water - take images of slow motion water. Streams and waterfalls that are in the shade are ideal. If you do it correctly, you'll get a digital photo that is really 'professional' looking.

    Here's how to do it. Use a tripod to steady the camera. Adjust your camera for a greater depth of field and slow the shutter down. Ideally, you'll want an exposure of one second or longer to create the flowing effect of the water. Then simply use the self timer to trip the shutter.

    9. Get a Huge Media Card
    There's nothing worse than running out of memory when you sot a 'great photo opportunity'. Here are my recommended sizes for different cameras:

    * 2 megapixel cameras - get at least a 64MB card
    * 3 megapixel camera - get at least a 128MB card
    * 4 megapixel camera - get at least a 256MB card
    * 5 megapixel camera and above - get at least a 512MB card

    10. Shoot at the Maximum Resolution
    I'm still surprised when I hear people getting a 5 megapixel digital camera, but shooting lower resolution and low quality compression settings. From my point of view, you should always shoot at the maximum resolution your camera will allow. Heck, you never know when you may want to blow up your prints to an 8 x 10 inch format.

    The bottom line is: If you have enough memory, there's no reason to shoot at lower resolution and risk missing the opportunity to show off your work in a big way.
     
  2. mentos_007

    mentos_007 The Freshmaker!

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    I'd not agree about the last one... You see I choose the resolution and change it very often. For example when I'm on the party and I know I'll be taking only shots for guys that don't care about artsy shots I lower the resolution to take more shots. They never take big prints so there's no need. While when I'm taking landscapes shots I take them in the highiest resolution coz I want to have big prints
     
  3. santino

    santino TPF Noob!

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    ditto
     
  4. mentos_007

    mentos_007 The Freshmaker!

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    thanks Santino :)
     

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