It’s almost time for families to gather together again. That means it’s time for you to get ready to make some photos of all the festivities; because, of course, over the years, memories fade. But the photos you make will last for generations. You are creating family history. Are you ready? Is your camera ready? Here are some things you can do right away to dramatically improve your photography. These tips will work with any camera, from a point-and-shoot, to SLRs,and even many smartphone cameras!
1. Out of focus photos: It’s happened to all of us. We have a perfectly focused wall in the background, but our main subject is a mere blur. The remedy? Pay attention to where your camera is focussing. Most cameras have a focus indicator that tells you what the camera is going to focus on. Many cameras have face detection software, which makes this really easy.What if you want to get creative and move your subject to a different location in the frame? Simply focus on your subject, hold down the shutter release half way, recompose, and push it the rest of the way down. Now your subject is where you want it to be, and also in focus!
2. Blurry Photos: This is different from out of focus photos, but just as annoying. Blurry photos come from not holding the camera steady. Camera shake can turn an otherwise great photo into a useless abstract. Many cameras have a warning indicator when you try to take a photo and the shutter speed is too slow. Try turning up the ISO setting on your camera. This makes your camera more sensitive to light, and thus allows a higher shutter speed, greatly reducing camera shake. But beware, higher ISO settings can cause digital “noise” or grainy looks in your photos.
3. Cluttered Backgrounds: How about that tree growing out of your son’s head? Not exactly what you wanted? Try changing your camera angle to a higher or lower position. Most cameras have a setting called “Aperture Priority,” which means you get to tell the camera what aperture (lens opening) you want to use. Set it to the smallest number possible. It might be 5.6, 4.5, or, on higher end models, 2.8. The smaller the aperture number, the bigger the lens opening. This will make the background turn into a nice blur, while your subject stays in focus.
4. Weird Colors: You take a photo, and check how it looks. Nice, except everything is too yellow or green. Try adjusting the White Balance setting on your camera. If you are indoors and your scene is illuminated by ordinary lightbulbs, use the Tungsten setting. Of course, if you are using the camera’s flash, then use Daylight or Flash white balance. You can also use the Auto White Balance setting, but often the results are not consistent. Nearly all cameras have a setting for florescent light as well. Most of the camera menus use obscure symbols for these settings, so make sure you understand what all those little icons mean before the action gets started!
5. Realize that great photos do not mean everyone looking at the camera and saying “cheese.” Some of my favorite photos are when the subject doesn’t even know I am taking her/his photo. Like the example above. The beautiful mood would have been lost if I asked her to look at the camera and smile.
5. Make sure your camera has power! This probably should have been the first point. Nothing is worse than running out of battery life half way through all the fun. Have fresh batteries available, or be sure the camera batteries are charged.
So take a few minutes to look over your camera and make sure you understand it’s functions before your big day gets here. You will be glad you did, and you won’t get frustrated with your photography during the holidays.
As always, if you have questions about your camera, bring it in and we will help you figure it out! This is a complimentary service we offer to all of our clients and friends.