Here are a few quick tips to help you make better pictures and have more fun using
your digital camera.
Move in Closer, Optically and Digitally
It is always a great idea to move or zoom in closer
to your subject. Almost any scene will benefit from you taking two steps forward.
© Jim Miotke
However, with digital cameras, there is a catch. As much as you may be tempted to
use the powerful digital zoom on your camera, avoid it. The image quality
is much better when you move in closer using either the "sneaker" technique (walking
up to your subject) or using the optical zoom on your camera. Avoid the digital
Moving In Very Close? Make Sure You Hit The Mark
Most digital and point and shoot cameras use a separate viewfinder from the lens.
This means that the hole you look through is not the same hole the lens looks though.
It sees a slightly different scene.
When you are far from your subject, this effect is negligible but as you get closer
to a subject, it becomes more noticeable. This problem, called parallax, can trip
up many macro digital photographers. Adjust for it when shooting close-ups. Streamline
Parallax - Before and
© Jim Miotke
Turn off the Date Function and any other fluffy features that the manufacturer gives
you. If you really want to remember when the photo was shot, use another method
such as naming your digital file with the date in the name or, if worse comes to
worse, writing the date down in a notebook as you are out shooting. The idea is
to eliminate distracting elements whenever you
© Pocholo Ignacio
Use A Tripod
Anticipate The Moment
Without the control of shutter speed, many cameras shoot too slow and end up capturing
a blurry image. If you can adjust your ISO setting and you are consistently getting
soft pictures, push up a stop or two. If you are stuck with whatever ISO equivalent
your camera features, use a tripod. Combine
a tripod with a remote or a self-timer for optimal results. (And don't be afraid,
when you are back in your digital darkroom, to slightly increase clarity by using
an Unsharp Mask or Sharpen filter in your digital image-editing software.)
Since many digital cameras suffer from a delay when you press the shutter button,
practice getting faster and faster to the draw.
If you are shooting anything active, make sure you press the shutter button down
long before your subject is at its optimal position. You may need to take many pictures
to make up for the error factor.
Rely on Available Light
Get away from that on-camera flash whenever possible. Only turn to it when:
- You are shooting in bright conditions and simply need a wee bit of fill flash; or
- You have no alternative but to rely on your on-camera flash.
Turning to reflectors and using available light as much as possible will yield great
Use The LCD Monitor
Practice, take a shot, look at it. Given you cannot see a full size version of the
image, you can still often see enough to know about major problems. For example,
you will see right away if the flash did not fire or if you were a little off center.
© Jim Miotke
Get yourself as much memory in removable storage as you can afford. Go for a huge
media card, if you can. There is nothing worse than having to stop shooting so you
can shuffle and erase pictures to make room on a small memory card. Having as close
to unlimited storage as you can get will free you up and help you feel inspired
rather than worried.
Tip: If you do happen to collect a bunch of CompactFlash cards over the years,
here is a simply way to make a cheap carrying case for them. Take a plastic, bi-fold
business card holder, open it and put a staple in the middle of each side, running
perpendicular to the fold. This will give you neat little pockets that perfectly
fit four CompactFlash cards.
Shoot First, Erase Later
If you are on assignment, in the heat of the moment, or otherwise pressed for time,
fire away without going into the edit mode. Leave that for later unless you absolutely
need the disk space. The ability to erase is indeed one of the great features of
shooting digitally but do it later, in your hotel room or back at home.
© Jim Miotke
Do you have a laptop with a PCMCIA slot in it? If so, use it; get an adapter so
you can stick your removable media card in the PCMCIA slot to transfer files.
If you do not have such a laptop, you may want to get an external card reader.
Either way, transferring files is much quicker than using a cable method. Furthermore,
when you download files from the camera in this way, you will no longer have to
wrestle with that mess of wires tangled behind your computer.
There you have it. Now grab that digicam, head out and take a card full of great
Questions? Check the BetterPhoto Q&A forum - and perhaps
ask your own question - to see if other members have answers for you.