Digital Camera Cheat-Sheet: Many digital cameras now come packed with some interesting special features. Examples can be found in the ability to take short QuickTime clips and record sound annotations.
Some cameras will even let you experiment with special effects like shooting in black and white or sepia toned images. Focus on the basics before you dive into special effects.
Remember that some of these effects such as black and white or sepia toned images can be created without the camera. Photoshop can transform a color image into black and white in a few simple steps. Basically, if you can do it easily in Photoshop, focus on taking a top quality color photo behind the camera and take care of the special effects without it.
But still try out other special effects. One example is to pan you camera to track a fast moving car, the car will be in sharp focus while the background will be blurred for an interesting photo.
Or try out the opposite by focusing on a stationary object such as a group of bright flowers or a child reading on the front steps and allow a speeding car to enter the frame. The result will be a sharply focused center of attention with the added feature of motion.
Silhouettes are another nice special effect. Try taking a photo with your subject in shadow, eclipsing a brightly-exposed object in the background. Now try the reverse, a brightly exposed subject against a dark background. Although different, both can be interesting. Getting a good silhouette with film is expensive: you shoot a lot of frames with little or no reward. With a digital camera, however, the only cost is your time and patience, and your patience will be rewarded.
Experiment with Exposure
Digital cameras typically work best in sunlight, just like film cameras. Once you step inside or into dim light, things get a bit more difficult just like with film cameras. Experiment to know how to handle these situations.
If you can, shoot your subject from different angles and with different lighting. If you can manually turn off your flash, do so. Other flash settings can also be tried such as ‘fill flash.’ Sometimes even a perfectly exposed picture can be improved with fill flash. Other times turning off the flash leaving the subject underexposed can add an element of drama.
You can take the same photo three different ways using three different exposure options and the result will be three totally different pictures. What’s even better is that all three can look good, but you have to experiment.
Bracket your shots if you can, with one underexposed, one overexposed, and one ‘just right.’ You should still practice even with a digital camera that will do this automatically.
If your camera shoots three frames when you were expecting it to shoot one, the result will probably be the last two looking like they were taken by surprise…your surprise!
Optical View Finder
If your digital camera has an optical viewfinder and not an electronic one, you should never, never use this when pointing your digital camera towards the sun, especially for sunrise and sunset photos!
As your digital camera’s optical viewfinder is not tinted, it’s almost as bad as just pointing your head and looking straight at the sun. This could cause serious eye damage. Looking through a viewfinder versus the LCD helps you hold the camera sturdier and closer to your eyes, thus reducing camera shake.
However, in this instance, you should use your digital camera’s LCD. If you’re worried about camera shake, use a tripod.
However, especially with the sunrise, due to the brightness of the sky, your digital camera should normally be able to take very fast photos, minimizing any camera shake.
Where have Creative Compact Cameras Gone?
These smaller cameras really are not much larger than the compact digital cameras, however they offer more user control. You may find the lenses to be larger, heavier, and of higher optical quality.
Typically all creative compact cameras offer the option of storing images in RAW format, usually proprietary but sometimes in Adobe’s standard DNG format.
You will probably find that a standard JPEG is easiest for uploading images to the Web, sharing with friends, or purchasing prints. Unfortunately you will probably find that a lot of shadow and highlight detail that was originally captured by the sensor can be lost with a standard JPEG.
Using the RAW format, the photographer can use an image editing program through their computer, which can bring out the shadow or highlight detail and make a really great print.
Creative Compact Cameras seems to have gone out of favor and therefore there are not too much to choose from. Camera companies are concentrating their energies on the “SLR-like” category and SLR category