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Digital Photography









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Tip: For subject-perspective problems, back away and use telephoto

  • When you shoot tall subjects, such as buildings, at close range, they can look as if they're ready to collapse in on themselves due to perspective problems. To straighten things up, move away from your subject, and then use a telephoto lens or mode. You'll straighten the sides of your subject and avoid time-consuming work in a photo-editing application.

Tip: Study your background with care before you shoot portraits.

  • When framing casual portraits, you should take care there isn't anything that appears to be visually sticking out of your subject's head. Tree limbs, signs, light poles, and flowers, to name but a few things can distract from the strength of your image. When framing your image, check your viewfinder or LCD preview before you shoot. When necessary, move either yourself or your subject to a simple background that will emphasize your subject, not the background.

Tip: Use a quick release tripod for set-up speed and convenience.

  • Although camera tripods come in many styles and sizes, they all operate pretty much alike. You mount your camera on the tripod head, set the length of the legs, adjust the framing of your camera, and shoot. While tripods are great photo accessories, they also take time to use. One way to speed things along when shooting is to use a tripod equipped with quick release head mount. Before you begin shooting, you attach your camera to a special mounting plate. When ready to place your camera on your tripod head, you flip a lever to lock down your camera, and you’re ready to go in a few seconds.

Tip: Image stabilization is now available on many on digital camera models.

  • Image stabilization, which has been a feature of video cameras for years, is beginning to make its way onto the digital photography market. It works by using complex optical designs that compensate for camera movement caused by the photographer. Image stabilization works well for steadying shots taken at a high zoom factor, a problem that has been plaguing digital photographers for some time now. The drawback is more expensive lens elements and increased power consumption. However getting a clear shot every time certainly can make it worth the extra expense.

Tip: Know what the Raw file format is.

  • When most digital cameras capture an image, the image data is sent to the camera’s processor which compresses and then outputs the date too a JPG or TIF file. However, many digital photographers didn't like the idea of having their image data compressed, so manufacturers have now begun to include a Raw file format as a file capture choice.
    The Raw file format saves the image data in an uncompressed file format directly from the image sensor. Raw files typically are smaller than TIFF files, but require a special utility on your computer to interpret them, such as Photoshop’s Camera Raw plug-in.

Tip: Pan action shots with your digital camera.

  • When you shoot a moving object, it's often best to track the subject as it moves across the scene. This technique called panning helps you to keep your subject in focus while blurring the background. The effect also gives your image the visual illusion of movement and captures the moment with greater visual interest. When panning with your camera, you should be certain to keep your camera steady and level as you track your subject.

Tip: Avoid the automatic power-off hassle.

  • Slam, and it’s a home run at a little league game? Arrg! Your digital camera automatically powers off, and you miss the shot. Most digital cameras have a setting that automatically turns the camera off when the camera hasn't been used within a certain period of time. While this setting certainly helps you save battery power, it can happen at the worst moment. If you know there's a particular moment you want to capture, sacrifice your battery life and turn off the auto power-off feature, and remember o turn it back on after you've take the shot.

Tip: Know about the aspect ratio of your digital images

  • One surprise for photographers switching from a film to digital camera is the size difference of the image. The frame of a traditional 35 mm camera has an aspect ratio of 3:2, while one from a digital camera is typically 4:3. This means that an image from a 35 mm frame is longer than one from a digital camera photo. While this is easy to get used to, you should keep this in mind that when composing your shots. You might have to crop out some image information if you want to print to a standard photo size such as 4 x 6 or 5 x 7, which works out to 4.5 x 6 and 5.25 x 7, respectively.

Tip: Keep in mind camera temperature changes

  • In case you’ve forgotten, that camera lens you spent so much money on is a big chunk of precision glass. Like most glass, it can fog up quickly when exposed to drastic temperature changes. If you’re traveling in the tropics for example, but staying in a nice, air-conditioned villa, set your camera out on the balcony a few minutes prior to capturing the first shot. Otherwise, you’ll find your lens has fogged up.

Tip: Keep in mind camera temperature changes

  • In case you’ve forgotten, that camera lens you spent so much money on is a big chunk of precision glass. Like most glass, it can fog up quickly when exposed to drastic temperature changes. If you’re traveling in the tropics for example, but staying in a nice, air-conditioned villa, set your camera out on the balcony a few minutes prior to capturing the first shot. Otherwise, you’ll find your lens has fogged up.

Tip: Use a color-reference card to color balance your images

  • There are times when you have to match the colors in an image as closely as possible to those in the subject itself. An easy solution is to place a color-reference card in at least one of your subject shots, and then use the reference card later as a reference while color-balancing your image using an application, such as Adobe Photoshop.

Tip: Take along a small printer on vacation to make prints for your vacation friends

  • A good way to make friends while you’re traveling is to carry along a small dye sublimation printer. They only weigh about two pounds and take up less space than an additional digital SLR. You don’t need to have a computer in order to print photos directly from your camera. Take a few snapshots of people you meet along the way and then give them the photo the next day. You’ll instantly become a digital photography god to them.

Tip: Make a CD of your vacation photos for your vacation companions with your laptop

  • If you’re taking your laptop computer with you on vacation, you can impress your vacation companions by presenting them with a CD of your vacation photos of the week. Just pop a few blank CDs into your computer case before you leave and then burn all the good shots (you know they can’t all be perfect shots, now don’t you?) onto the CD. Then, before you leave, give the CD to your companions to remember their fun times. Trust us; they’ll be amazed at your thoughtfulness.

Tip: Take advantage of your digital camera’s exposure lock for improved exposure

  • Many automatic cameras will retain your exposure setting if you press the shutter button halfway down. To use this feature, aim the center of your frame at the part of your subject that is overexposed, press the shutter halfway, hold it, and then recompose the scene and shoot. You should have improved your exposure.

Tip: Try infrared digital photography for interesting shots

  • No doubt, you’ve seen prints of infrared shots done with a traditional camera and film. Way cool, yes? But did you know it’s possible to capture infrared images with a digital camera as well? Yes, and it’s easier than you might think. All you’ll need is an infrared filter, your tripod, and time to test out your equipment for best results. For specific information on which filters are best for your camera, consult your digital camera user’s manual.

Tip: Transparent materials at hand make for great digital camera filters

  • While there are plenty of commercially produced digital camera filters available, you might want to try using transparent materials you find at hand the next time you require a filter. Stained glass from a hobby shop, soda and beverage bottles, and even candy wrappers are a few materials that make great filters.

Tip: Use flat lighting to your advantage

  • Most often, photographers avoid flat lighting because it decreases definition and texture in a subject. But you can use flat lighting to your benefit. Whenever you want to shoot a subject with small flaws, such as scratches, nicks, and dents, and don't want to spend hours retouching it later, shoot your subject in an open shadow with bounced flash or studio light.

Tip: Use your imagination

  • An old saying goes, "Some things are best left to the imagination." You might say the same about capturing your digital shots as well. If you sometimes allow soft tones, indistinct subject definition, and misty backgrounds, you enable your viewer to engage his imagination with your image, and in a sense, make it his own.

Tip: Use your built-in timer for slow shutter speeds

  • Image blur is often the result of slow shutter speeds. To avoid the problem, a traditional photographer uses a cable release. However, most digital cameras have no means of attaching a cable release for that purpose. A simple workaround is to use your built-in timer. Allowing the camera to settle for the 5 or 10 seconds of delay usually prevents the annoying problem of blur.

Tip: Use manual focus mode for critical focusing on macro subjects

  • Shooting a subject close up can be a tricky thing, especially if your autofocus mode just isn't cooperating and nothing you do seems bring your subject into focus at such a close range. A great way to work around the problem is to switch to manual focus mode. Set the focus as close as your camera will allow, and then slowly move your camera toward your subject until it's in focus. You'll find it's often less frustrating than trying to find the autofocus sweet spot that's eluding you.

Tip: Getting close-up shots with a flash

  • If you like taking close-up shots using the macro mode on your digital camera, you know that you built-in flash can be too bright when placed so close to your subject.  If you're serious about your close-up shots, consider using an external light source to the side or behind the object to help evenly light the scene without adding any unwanted hotspots.  You can instantly check to see if you have the right exposure using your camera's LCD viewer.  If the flash is too bright, move it about a foot farther away from you subject.  Do this until the exposure is correct.

Tip: You need to clean your memory card too

  • Sand is great for a sandbox and at the beach, but not for digital cameras.  Even a grain or two that gets caught in the contact sockets of your memory card can cause problems.  Whenever you return from an sandy outing, check your card for lingering sand and debris that may have found its way to your card.  If you do find a few grains, carefully dust them to the side, or use a blast or two of canned air.  If you use canned air, be careful not to blow and jam sand into the socket holes.  Always direct the air stream across the sockets and never into them.

Tip: Don't forget about your remote control

  • Some digital cameras come equipped with remote control shutter releases.  If yours has one, it's well worth your time to learn how to use it.  It's better than a time delay because you can take a hands-off shot whenever you want.  In a situation when you're alone and have to control a reflector or a scrim on a subject that's more than arm's length from your digital camera, you can just press the remote button.

Tip: Title your vacation photos

  • If you're in the habit of taking many vacation photos, and then wonder months later where you shot them as you review your photos, take a few seconds to snap a title shot for each event you shoot.  It's actually quite easy.  If, for example, you're shooting in a public museum, take a quick shot of the entrance sign or guide brochure.  If you're shooting scenes in a town, shoot the "Welcome to" entry sign, town hall, or even a local store with the town name in it.

Tip: Use manual mode for greater depth of field

  • Whenever you need a great depth of field for a shot, use the manual mode.  That way you can set your digital camera's f-stop to its smallest setting.  If you use your auto mode, you'll get the aperture shutter combination your camera's software gives you.

Tip: Set focus to infinity when shooting a landscape through a window

  • Sometimes when shooting a landscape out a car or room window, your digital camera auto focuses on the window glass rather than your scene.  To correct the problem, set your focus mode to infinity, and you'll never have that dilemma again.

Tip: Put a red dot on your memory card

  • Do you have a problem remembering which way your memory card fits in your camera?  Even though you can only fully insert them one way, you may sometimes flip it back and forth while trying to rock it into place.  If this is a problem for you, take a red Sharpie marker and put a red dot on the side of your memory card that faces you.  Then, remember "Read Red Right," meaning when you can Read the Red dot your card is positioned Right, and you'll have the problem solved.

Tip: Apply Velcro to the back of your lens cap

  • Lens caps aren't provided by camera manufacturers simply for show.  They help avoid fingerprints and scratches on your lens.  Since most digital cameras are made with a fixed mounted lens, repairing a damaged lens means sending the entire camera out for service.  If your lens cap didn't come with a short attachment toggle, solve the problem of lost lens caps with two Velcro-brand dots.  Glue one on the back of your lens cap, and the other on your camera strap.  Then, when you want to take a shot, you can quickly attach your lens cap to your strap.  It will stay put, and you won't forget where you left it.

Tip: Use your exposure compensation feature to correct for consistent problems with exposure

  • If you consistently feel your images are too light or too dark, or even if you prefer them that way, don't forget about the Exposure Compensation feature found on most cameras.  Use it to override the default setting by up to several stops to suit your preferences.

Tip: Use your self timer to prevent shaky pictures

  • The next time you're taking a shot at a slow shutter speed, use your self timer to prevent blurry-looking images caused by camera motion.  Even when your camera is mounted on a tripod, camera motion can occur, especially if you haven't set the locks well enough, or if you're using a lightweight tripod.

Tip: You have what kind of brown spots in your grass?

  • Describing plant problems to a garden and lawn expert can be difficult.  This is especially true when you can't take a problem sample with you.  Take several shots of ailing plants, bring your camera with you, and then play back your photos when talking with your plant doctor.  It should be very helpful as you try to find a remedy.

Tip: Capture faces and names at family reunions

  • Family reunions are popular events.  If you have a problem remembering all your twice removed cousins or great uncles, take a quick shot of your extended family members and include a 3 X 5 name card.  If you do this at the start of the event and offer to email your photos to anyone who wants copies, chances are you'll find little resistance from participants who are camera shy.


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