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10 Digital Photography Tips

10 Digital Photography Tips

You have probably heard people say something like, the better the camera – the better the pictures. The reality is, great images can be made using any camera. It has much more to do with the skill of the photographer than it does with the camera. Likewise, if you don’t know how to use a top of the line Nikon professional camera, you likely will make a lousy picture.

Below are ten tips to aid you in taking professional photographs using your digital camera. Practice these and get the most out of your camera.

1 – Warm up the white balance

Set your white balance to “cloudy” for shooting sunny portraits and landscapes. That will increase the yellows and reds making a warmer photograph.

2 – Use a polarizing filter

A polarizing filter comes in handy while creating general outdoor images. By minimizing unwanted glare and reflections, images made with a polarizer have richer colors, and greater saturation. The maximum polarization is seen when the light source is 90 degrees to the subject.

There are two things you can do if your camera is not able to receive filters.

  • First, use polarized sunglasses. Just hold the glasses as close to the lens as you can without the frame obstructing the image. Consider popping the lenses out of a pair of sunglasses to keep with you camera just for this purpose.
  • Second, use a square creative filter like those produced Cokin. Similar to using sunglasses, hold the film filter close to the lens while shooting.

3 – Flash for outdoor portraits

Also known as “fill flash” mode. This mode tells the camera to set the exposure for the background, then adds enough flash to light up the subject. Wedding photographers use this technique to make the bride and groom pop.

You can achieve the same effect manually by setting your exposure for the background. Then take the photograph with you flash turned on. Some experimenting will let you know if you need to manually dial down your flash power by a one or two stops.

For a relaxed composition, place your subject in the shade and use the flash. Having the subject in the shade instead of direct sun light will minimize squinting.

Fill flash will also allow you to use the sun as a rim light, giving a halo effect on the subjects hair as well as helping to separate the subject from the background.

Just remember not to stand too far away. Most built in flashes have a useful range of ten feet or less.

4 – Macro mode

Surely you want to look at all the small details in your surroundings, but you don’t want to get down and lie on your belly. Maybe it’s time to explore macro photography?

Just use your macro mode. Look for the close up symbol which is usually a flower on your mode select dial.

You camera’s macro mode gives you a shallow depth of field. Allowing you to concentrate on the part of the scene you want to emphasize, letting the rest become a soft focus. Also known as “selective focus”.

5 – Watch the horizon line

Some photographers get a little disoriented when composing their shot. That is, their pictures seem tilted, or bowed inward.

This is just a matter of practicing. Try using the frame of the viewfinder, or LCD display, as guides for horizontal and vertical lines.

For example, there is a structure in you scene that you know is vertical, perhaps it’s a building. Before releasing the shutter, take a moment and make sure the wall of the building is parallel to the left or right frame of your viewfinder.

6 – Massive memory card, or not

You must have memory cards to capture the images you make. But what size to get?

It comes down to personal preference. Even though you can buy extremely large memory cards it is my choice to use cards just large enough to hold 200 to 300 images in the RAW format. My reasoning is if a memory card fails, and they all will eventually, I won’t lose and entire weekend or vacation worth of images.

7 – Don’t always shoot with maximum resolution

If you have limited memory, shoot the images you know you will be emailing or just making drug store prints (4” x 6”) out of in lower resolution. Then you will have the memory for the shot the you will want to print in a larger (8” x 10”)

But shoot with maximum resolution if you have the memory. Memory is relatively cheap and there is no reason to risk missing the opportunity to make a large print from an unexpected gem of a photograph.

8 – To tripod, or not to tripod

Tripods are bulky things and people don’t like to use them, or carry them around.

But nowadays there are ingenious alternatives to the old style bulky tripod. The line of UltraPods manufactured by Pedco are light weight tripods that can literally fit in your back pocket with dimensions of 7x2x2 inches and weighing just 4 ounces.

9 – Self timing FUN

Another feature on nearly every camera that is seldom used is the self timer. This is a key feature for the phographer who wants to be in his own family and group portraits. Also handy for making self portraits.

By using the UltraPod’s velcro strap, you can secure your camera so it cannot be picked up and carried off too easily.

A self timer can also be used to trip the shutter after your hands are away from the camera, minimizing camera motion (vibration) during long exposures.

10 – Intentional blurring, or long exposures

Typically, an exposure of one second or longer is used to create the effect of water flowing. For those long exposures you need to find streams and waterfalls located in shady areas, or photograph them very late or very early before full daylight.

One way to manipulate the light is to use a polarizer, or a neutral density filter, to darken the scene, allowing a longer exposure.

This technique can minimize the distractions in the background of a portrait. Of course, your subject has to remain fairly still or they will blur too.

In closing

People get curious when they see a photograph created by a photographer using some ingenuity and creativity. They’ll ask, “What camera was that what with?”

Wouldn’t it be humbling for them to learn that you used an everyday point and shoot camera?