Digital cameras have raised the bar. With no more worries about wasting film, the number of family pictures per event can easily number in the hundreds. But if you’re not getting many keepers, it’s probably not the camera. It’s you.
Step back for portraits.
Far too many people think they should get close and personal when taking a portrait. Cameras make features look distorted up close. For example, noses and eyes appear exaggeratedly large.
When shooting portraits, stand about 15 feet from your subject. For a tight shot of the subject’s face, use your digital camera’s zoom. You’ll get the cropping you need.
For full-length shots, zoom out. But use care. Wide-angle shots introduce distortion. This leads to very unflattering shots.
Frame the shot
Good composition greatly improves your photographs. There are many compositional rules. Here’s a rundown on the essentials.
Don’t center subjects in the frame. This is boring. Instead, think of your photograph as a 3-by-3 grid. Subjects should be one-third from the top or bottom of the frame. They should also be one-third from either side of the frame.
Curves, particularly S-curves, make a photo more appealing. Curves lead the viewer into the photograph. The curve should start at the photo’s edge and approach the subject.
Triangular shapes are also interesting compositionally. Use points of other objects to create a triangle.
Pay attention to the foreground and background of your images. Reframe a shot to eliminate distractions. Compositional rules are suggestions proven to work, but you can achieve interesting photos without following them.
For example, when taking a picture of a child, get down on their level.
Get the action shot
Action is difficult to capture. Maybe you’re waiting for the right moment to take a photo. Before you know it, the moment’s passed — and the opportunity.
You can avoid this if you are using a point and shoot camera. Say you’re photographing someone riding a bicycle. Lock focus on the bicyclist by pressing the shutter half way.
Follow the bicyclist with your camera. At the right moment, press the shutter all the way. Continue to pan until the shot is taken. The bicyclist should be clear. However, a blurred background conveys the motion.
Careful with flash
Flash is greatly misunderstood. It can help in dim situations. However, the results are often disappointing. Flash can bleach skin tones and alter the photograph’s colors. It also leaves harsh, unappealing shadows.
Flash is better suited for outside use on a sunny day. That’s right. You may have shadows covering a subject’s face. Fill flash removes these shadows. It shouldn’t affect the rest of the photo.
Try some cool tricks
Undoubtedly you’ve seen techniques you’d like to mimic. So let me give you pointers for achieving some popular shots.
Maybe you’d like to capture light trails — like those from car lights. You must adjust some camera settings. Use the smallest aperture or a slow shutter speed for a long exposure. Want a photo of water rushing over a waterfall? The concept is similar. Again, use a long exposure.
Want a photo where the subject seems to move? Use a relatively long shutter speed. Zoom in on the subject as the photo is being taken. The main elements of the photo appear in focus. Objects around the edges are blurred, as if by motion.