Essential Photography TipsEssential Photography Tips

Here are some helpful hints when taking pictures

Essential Photography Tips for Beginners

Take Lots of Shots – Remember that you are using a digital camera.  It’s almost free due to the fact that just because you took the picture it doesn’t mean you have to print it.  You can easily delete the pictures you don’t want or that don’t come out well. Increase the number of photos you take of a single scene or subject, using a number of different settings and angles to take the shot. This will greatly increased the odds of you getting the perfect shot that you need for a specific project.

Keep the Camera Still – Camera movement is still the usual cause of blurry pictures. If you find you are unable to keep the camera steady, invest in a small tripod or try leaning against something to help steady yourself.

When to Use a Flash – Most cameras have an auto flash but you may not need it on all the time. If at all possible try using “natural” light.  If this isn’t possible, using regular lamps and try different ways of muting the light to get the effect you are looking for.

Picture Posing – It isn’t necessary to get someone to pose for that great shot.  Even the best portrait shots sometimes are from spur of the moment pictures.  Saying “cheese” or “smile” may only get the smile action but not the emotion.  Try making your subject laugh. It will make a much better picture.

Camera Angle – There ‘s nothing wrong with placing your subject in the exact center but there might be a better picture to be captured.  Even with portraits, a slightly off-center picture can give it character depending on how the subject is positioned.  One of the best pictures I have ever seen is from a mom looking down at her sleeping baby with its arms outstretched.  The baby’s hand was actually in the center of the photograph and made a great visual impact.

Using Zoom – Back up from your subject, and use the ZOOM! You will have less problems with any distortion from trying to stand too close to take pictures and you will get much more natural pictures when your photographing live subjects – especially children.  You will also get a lot less “background” in your pictures – instead they will be filled with your subject and are much more interesting (this will also reduce the amount of editing you will need to do).

Many new cameras offer a digital zoom option. This can be a great option if you know how to use it properly but in most cases, it is better if you just turn this option off.

Many believe that the digital zoom will allow you to catch additional detail that an optical zoom may not be capable of doing. Instead it uses.

Digital zoom does not capture any additional detail than the maximum optical zoom of your camera. Instead it uses interpolation (the process of determining the value of a function between two points at which it has prescribed values.) to make a part of the image larger by adding pixels.

Unfortunately, this means that the camera guesses how and where the new pixels should be added. This is only giving the illusion of increased detail and can sometimes make the picture less clear or even incorrect.

Also, using the digital zoom will make it more difficult to focus. I higher megapixel camera will give you more freedom to edit using a program, but if you want to take a lot of close-ups, I would suggest investing in a higher optical zoom or telephoto lens.

Avoiding Red-Eye – Red-eye is a common problem, not only with digital cameras but with standard film cameras as well. Why? The flash is generally located close to the lens and the subject is usually looking into the lens of the camera. The light from the flash will bounce off the retina and reflect back to the lens, along the way however it will pick up the hue from the blood vessels in the eye and hence you get the “red” eye.

A few tips to avoid this problem:

  • Try profile shots or position your subject so they are not looking directly at the lens
  • If indoors try turning on as many lights as possible to avoid the brilliance of the flash
  • If your camera has a red-eye reduction mode try to use that

Protecting your camera on sunny days

Photos of sunrises and sunsets are always fun to take and beautiful to view later, but pointing your lens directly at the sun may damage it. Focus your pictures slightly away from the sun to help prevent damage. Also, in between photos, turn off your digital camera and place a lens cap over your lens to protect it from too much light.

A digital camera lens is in some way like your eye; too much direct sunlight may damage it. Take photos in spurts, and then protect your digital camera lens by covering it up.

Mistakes to Avoid – Not Backing Up Your Digital Photos

Don’t Neglect Digital Photos in Your Backup Routine

You do have a backup routine, don’t you?

Some people will save film negatives for generations, but when they make the switch to digital, they may never even consider the idea of making a second backup copy of their images.

Believe me, any kind of digital storage is susceptible to failure. It can’t be predicted, but you can certainly plan for it. Please get in the habit of making at least monthly backups of your digital pictures–and by backup, I mean a second copy. Archiving your photos to a single CD and then deleting them from hard disk is not a second copy.

Currently, the most convenient backup solution is a second, removable hard drive (typically what is known as a thumb-drive or a stand alone external hard drive). The most affordable solution is recordable CD and DVDs (your choice will depend on the size of your photo folder).

For the best protection, consider making duplicates of all your archive CDs and pass one copy along to a family member or put it in a safety deposit box or fire-proof safe. Then, even in the event of a fire or theft, your precious photographic records and memories will not be lost.

Mistakes to Avoid – Using the Camera Software

You don’t have to settle for the software that came with your camera or scanner.

All digital cameras and scanners come with some kind of software bundle to get you started with photo editing. Almost always, these are very limited, basic programs or pared down “special” editions of more powerful software that is available.

The bundled software may get you by for the most basic of tasks, but to truly enjoy the full potential of digital photography, you should consider upgrading this to a more flexible and mainstream photo editing software. In addition to having more power, you’ll save time, have access to more learning resources, and be more likely to find an active online community of other users to help you out and share their collective knowledge.

To choose the right software for your needs, determine how you plan to use your photos. Are they going to be put into digital media format (i.e. slideshows for your DVD player), will they be part of a family Christmas card, will they need to be edited and re-touched? There are a variety of programs that have already been mentioned here that you can use. However, before you go out and spend the cash, figure out how involved you will want to become and how much time you can invest in learning the program so you can accomplish your goals.

The editing process of digital photography requires a lot of perception to master it. You have to be able to judge color combinations and effects, tones and hues, subtle changes in lighting which change the mood of the photograph- little nuances like these will have a big impact on the photograph you end up with.

Everyone has had a fascination with photography at some point in their lives. The power to capture the world around us, to freeze the past, to force us to look at our environment in totally different ways is something that goes beyond the realm of a hobby. The editing of a photograph is an essential part of the art of photography.

In a way editing takes place before you take the shot. Setting up the equipment, making lighting adjustments- these are all editing the image you will take. Even cleaning the dust off the camera lens is a form of editing. Proper use lighting should not be underestimated. Too much or too little light can ruin a perfect photograph, often producing a blank screen.

Digital editing can literally work magic. You can touch up old photographs by scanning them into your PC. Using a photo editor to add effects on your computer can work wonders and put a new spin on the photos and memories you treasure. Keep experimenting and remember that it’s supposed to be fun!

The Most Important Question to Ask

What Story Are You Wanting To Tell?

There are many reasons to take a particular picture.  You can be just taking a recording of a moment or you may be trying to capture the emotion of the moment.  Is it a picture you want to give to someone else because you know they will want to keep that moment in their mind forever?  Is it a picture that you will add to other shots so you have a complete recording of a particular event?

The reason why this question is so important is because it will effect the picture in ways of how you frame it, the exposure, and many other factors. If you are trying to capture a particular emotion, the focal point will be the face of your subject and you may want to blur out the background slightly to give it that special effect. 

If it is an event, you may want to make sure that you have something commemorating the event in the background of your subject.  An example would be that if you wanted to take a picture of the excitement on a five year old child’s face when they first see their birthday present, you will want to make sure you have something in the background like a banner wishing the child a Happy 5th Birthday.

Always stop before taking the shot and think about what you are trying to tell so you will always capture that perfect picture.


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