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Why Cant I Take Great Pictures With My Digital Camera?

Aug 17, 2007
Today most people have a professional digital camera and the latest computer software for it, where professional results can be obtained with a click of the button - then instantly looked at and critiqued, the area you want emphasized cropped down, the size you want, colors and areas manipulated for its improvement, and then printed or ordered.

Framing software can place it on the wall within hours after the initial shoot. That is all after the shoot, but what to do before the shoot will make the difference between an amateur looking photographs and a professional, high quality look. Knowing how to take photographs that goes beyond words is due to the knowledge of the photographer - and being at a particular spot at the exact time is because that photographer feels "this is it."

They may take excellent pictures with an inexpensive digital camera, while someone else might shoot pathetic photographs with a top of the line SLR. It is all about the photographer and his camera, not just the camera.

Light is the absolute of all photography. Its critical components are when the sun is low in the east or west - most photographers take pictures within two hours of the morning sunrise or evening sunset. Elements such as fog, mist, rain, or atmospheric haze always make things interesting to set a mood in the picture, or an overcast sky with STRONG foreground subject matter. The light during these particular times will stand out, throwing shadows and light in unique ways, created by the photographer's emotions (the ability to "feel" the picture as it is shot) as well as the technical aspects of the shoot. This makes a better picture as compared to excellent technical work with no feeling or emotions. Try to be in "sync" with the camera if at all possible.

Not all pictures can be taken inside, so a trip may need to be done for that special spot we have always wanted to shoot. A novice photographer may go out with a few other photographers at the beginning, but in order to focus on what needs to be done, and actually get a feel for things - go alone.

Nature and landscape seem to be considered solitary photography trips to most professionals but they can be dangerous. These trips can be one day, two days or more, depending on the area.

But anything more than one days need to be planned out: take enough water for about a gallon a day - one liter bottles work best; keep one day's worth of food in the vehicle plus healthy snacks for after a shoot or in-between, in addition to eating at least one or two meals out; take a first aid kit JUST in case; cell phones even if we have no bars; always let someone know where the trip will be at on a daily basis; and keep things such as a flashlight, extra batteries for everything; matches, mulit-tool; and a decent knife.

Some generic things to always keep in mind are:

-- Try to hold the camera level by aligning it with natural horizontal lines, like the horizon.

-- If you aim your camera slightly downwards on the subject's face, you will give a more complimentary effect. Take a view from one side, to get a three-quarter view of the face, which will give a better picture.

-- Avoid putting the subject in the center of the frame. This is a habit most people find hard to break. Remember to move close and put the subject slightly off center.

-- Think about the focus of your picture, when you frame the shot. If you are trying to capture the expression on your child's face, you can leave out the other children, the swing, the dog, etc.

--Turn your flash off if there is sufficient light. A camera flash may make people look pale.

-- Use soft ambient light that is available under a tree. The light filtering through a tree can give better results by warming up the skin and throwing a soft light on the features. You will get a similar effect if you shoot indoors near an open window.

-- Always be conscious of the background. Many good photos are ruined by the clutter in the frame. Change your position to avoid a messy background.

-- Change the white balance from auto to cloudy, for warmer, richer colors. The macro mode can open new possibilities for close-up photography, giving you new perspectives on everyday objects.

-- A polarizing filter can improve landscapes by reducing glare and reflections. It can give richer, saturated colors.

-- A small tripod can give you a much better shot, by lending stability. Tripods are not meant only for professionals, as some people think. Using a self-timer can put you in a number of pictures, where you are usually not visible.

-- You can use the camera with a tripod and a timer, with a slow shutter speed, to capture the effects of moving water, in streams and waterfalls.

-- Get a media card with plenty of memory, so you will not run out of space, at a crucial time. Shoot at the highest resolution allowed by your camera, to get the best results and sharper enlargements.
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