10 Tips for Shooting Great Digital Photos

By: Gary Hendricks

Want to know THE biggest secret to
taking good digital photos? Well here it
is: It's the photographer that takes
great photos, not the camera. Think
about that for a minute. It's true isn't

I've seen some people take great photos
with a simple point-and-shoot camera,
while some take lousy shots with the
most expensive SLR.

But fret not. Read these ten tips on
shooting digital photos and apply them
the next time you have a chance. Before
long, you'll be shooting like a pro!

1. Using the Flash for Outdoor Portraits
Here's one of my greatest secrets on
taking great photos - using the fill
flash or flash on mode. 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.

Whew. A pretty long article. I hope I've
managed to give you some good tips on
shooting great digital photos. Always
remember what I said - while the latest
and greatest digital cameras have
amazing featuresFree Articles, you still need a
skilled photographer to take nice
pictures. Apply the above tips to your
everyday shooting and learn to be a
better photographer.


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