When I bought my first digital camera, complete with its little viewing screen, people would invariably ask, “Can I see the picture?" Children would ask me to take their picture, and then run over and ask to see it, then go back and ask me to take another!
It’s great to have all that excitement, but were my pictures actually the best they could be?
Here are 7 tips that I have learned that have improved the quality of my photos.
1. Use the high resolution setting. At the start, I had the resolution set to medium. That way I was able to take about 100 pictures before having to download the memory card to my computer’s hard disk. That was fine for viewing on screen, but then one day I wanted to do an 8x10 paper version, and the results were disappointing. Now I always use the highest resolution my cameras can provide. I have had to spend some money on more memory cards, but it was worth it.
2. Use a Tripod. Even the slightest movement of the camera can create a blurry image. Invest in a tripod. I have also found that when taking group shots, I am better able to judge when to “click" if I am looking directly at the group, rather than through the view finder.
3. Buy a Good Photo-Editing Program. Perhaps your camera came with Photoshop Elements, or similar. If not, go to your computer retailer and buy one. Not only can you fix blemishes (maybe Susan was having a bad zit day), but you can do more creative things as well. Recently I combined a photo of my grand-daughter with one of Dora-the-Explorer. Jasmine loved it.
4. Watch the Compression. As you use that fancy photo editing program, be careful of your compression setting. Most programs default to “jpeg" format, which saves space by selectively removing pixels, and recreating them the next time you view the photo. If you open, edit, and save a photo multiple times, the over-all quality decreases. Try to do all your editing in one pass, using the lowest compression, or use a format like “tiff", which does not compress.
5. Get in Close. Don’t waste pixels on excess background. Get in closer, either physically or with an optical zoom setting.
6. Good Things Come in Threes (or more!). Considering the incremental costs of taking a photo with a digital camera (close to nil!), you should take lots of shots. If the shot is available for more than a few seconds, take more that one exposure. I always tell the subjects of my photos that I will be taking at least 2 or 3 shots of them. A blink at the wrong time ruins the potential.
7. Read the Manual In fact, read it more than once. As if I have to explain this one!
Here’s an equation for you.
(LOTS of photos with your digital camera) + (the above tips) = (a day coming soon when you’ll be proud to show off your creations)
Richard Killey is an amateur photographer who shares the love of his hobby with readers of his website. Visit http://www.photosbyrichard.ca to read other articles of interest.