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Digital Photo FAQ's & Tips: Taking Photos

This section of the web site is a collection of digital photo Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) and Tips.

Step back when taking close-ups with the flash

When taking close-up shots, it is natural to move in close to the subject. If using the flash, being too close will create an overly bright, washed-out image.

Instead, take a couple of steps back and use the optical zoom on the camera to get in close. The extra distance between subject and flash allows some of the light to spread to the surrounding area. This simple technique will produce a more natural picture, and your model will appreciate not being blinded.

Natural light rules

One of the tricks of the trade in photography is to use morning or late afternoon light. The sunlight at this time is wonderful and helps to produce pictures that are bathed in warmth. Direct light flatters the subject and adds to a more intimate and natural-looking photograph.

This tip is an excerpt from Photographing Kids.

Use highest resolution setting

For best results, use the highest possible image resolution before printing or developing your digital photos.

Before taking pictures, make sure that your camera is on the highest resolution setting. Some cameras may call this "large", "super fine", etc., so check your user guide to be certain.

After taking the picture, do not reduce the resolution with photo editing software, unless you have a specific need.

If editing photos to remove red eye, crop, etc., be sure to save the image at maximum quality. This is especially important if saving as a JPEG file (with .jpg on the end). In the case of JPEG, your software may refer to the highest setting as "maximum", "10", or "100". Saving at the highest resolution will give you the sharpest image on paper.

Take extra batteries

What convinced you to switch to a digital camera? Was instant photo review a major consideration? That wonderful little screen comes with a price—shortened battery life. If you are planning on a long day of digital photo taking, be sure to take extra batteries. On scenic trips with many photo opportunities, battery power tends to run out before the memory cards.

If you are still looking to buy a camera, consider models with rechargeable batteries. Buy one or two extra and re-charge them before you head out for the day.

Extending battery life

As we all know, the preview screen on a digital camera drains the batteries pretty quickly. The screen is very handy and I generally keep it on when I'm not away from fresh batteries or my charger for too long. But, on long days of shooting, the battery life can be extended by turning off the preview screen. Most cameras have this option, so check your manual. Before you turn off the preview screen, be sure you understand how much of the actual image you see through the view finder. On my camera, I know that the captured image will be slightly larger than what I see through the view finder. Once you understand the difference, you can compensate while the preview screen is off.

Use a tripod for sharp photos

Most photographers know to use a tripod (or some other camera support) in low light conditions. Tripods are also helpful in bright conditions to produce the sharpest images. Recently I downloaded a set of photos to my computer and noticed that several were fuzzy, even though they were taken in bright sunlight. They were not fuzzy enough for me to see on the camera preview screen, but it was obvious on the monitor. I took these photos on a very windy day without a tripod.

Wind and slight shaking of the hands will affect sharpness, especially at higher zoom levels. If a full-size tripod is too cumbersome, look for a small tripod that fits in a coat pocket or a collapsible monopod.