Taking Great Photos

Even the most inexpensive point-and-shoot camera can yield beautiful photos. Conversely, you can still take bad photos with the fanciest SLR camera.  It's all about knowing how to use your camera and being prepared. Here are some tips to help you get great photos.

Note: this text is adapted from http://www.basic-digital-photography.com/shooting-photos.html

  1. Know Your Camera Chances are, you've never read the 100-page manual that came with your digital camera; you learned to use it just by fiddling around. You owe it to yourself, however, to be acquainted with the ins and outs of your camera. Learn how to control exposure, how to use different camera modes and how to use the flash. The knowledge you gain about the camera will be invaluable when you're out in the field.

  2. Use a Tripod

    Camera tripods are an essential tool in your photography arsenal. You'll need a tripod if you're taking shots under low-light conditions or trying to capture fast moving objects. You don't need a huge one - just a simple, compact one that's easy to pack.

  3. Learn to Control the Flash

    One of the most important things you need to know about digital photography is to control the flash. It's not good to rely on the automatic flash that came with your digital camera. Depending on the situation, you need to switch off or switch on the flash, or adjust its intensity.

    For example, when taking outdoor photos, it is sometimes good to turn on the flash to illuminate the subject, especially if he or she is in the shade. On the other hand, you can also choose to turn off the flash when taking indoor shots. Sometimes, using the flash indoors will result in unnatural skin color and harsh glare in your photos.

  4. Play with the Macro Mode

    Almost all digital camera have a macro mode. This setting is ideal for taking close-up shots of objects from around a foot (12 inches) away. On many cameras, the macro setting is represented by a flower symbol. Once you've picked your subject, turn on macro mode, then get as close to your subject as your camera will allow. Make sure you allow the camera to focus properly before depressing the shutter button fully.

  5. Have Enough Memory Capacity

    Just like you must have enough rolls of film when using traditional cameras, make sure you always have enough memory capacity in your digital camera, or that you have extra memory cards to plug in. Here are some general guidelines for digital camera storage:

    • 2 megapixel cameras - get at least a 64MB card
    • 3 megapixel camera - get at least a 128MB card
    • 4 megapixel camera - get at least a 256MB card
    • 5 megapixel camera and above - get at least a 512MB or 1GB card
       
  6. Bigger Pictures = Higher Quality

    Most digital cameras give you the ability to control what size (or resolution) your photos will be, and consequently how much space they'll take up on the camera's memory card. A small (640 x 480 pixels) image will take up a fraction of the space of a large (2816 x 2112 pixels) image; however, because of the increased resolution, the larger photo will be much higher quality. Therefore, make sure to adjust your camera's settings so that the photos you're shooting will be as large -- and as high-quality -- as possible. Remember, you can always reduce resolution, but you can never add it in once it's gone.

  7. Hold the Camera Level

    It may sound obvious, but it bears stating! Since most digital cameras come with a LCD, you can use it to properly frame your shots: look for the horizontal lines and use them as guides.

  8. Play with the ISO Setting

    The ISO setting of a camera controls its sensitivity to light. If you're taking a photo of a still object, then always use a low ISO setting. It allows for a longer shutter speed and produces a cleaner image. If you're shooting a moving object, then a higher ISO setting (400+)  is better. Do take note, however, that a higher ISO setting gives a faster shutter speed and requires less light. This will produce noiser photos.