Photography Tips And Lessons

Once you find the perfect digital camera, learn a few tips and techniques through these lessons and become a better photographer instantly!

There are so many exciting techniques you can learn to use with your camera that it is difficult to decide where to begin!

The first consideration is whether you are going to shoot photos with a digital or non-digital camera. It would be recommended nowadays to purchase a digital camera if you are in the market for a camera. The reason for this is that there are so many wonderful digital cameras available now which can be purchased for a relatively inexpensive price, and will give you years of fun and pleasure. Plus, today's printers and computers are very compatible with digital cameras, making your computer into a virtual photography studio!

A few tips on selecting a digital camera: Decide what you are going to be using your camera for, how much you are willing to spend, and what features you can or can not live without on the camera you purchase. You will find that there is a huge array of digital cameras ranging in price from $80.00 to over $500.00! Many of the large, discount electronic stores carry a wide range of digital cameras, and I suggest trying several stores until you find something in your price range that has your desired features.

Once you have found a digital camera you are happy with, practice a few different techniques and ideas using the lessons that follow:

Lesson 1 - Shooting Outdoor Photographs Successfully

You probably are thinking "Anyone can go outside and take a good picture!" Not always the case though. Have you ever shot a whole roll of outdoor scenery photographs while on vacation in a beautiful place, thinking you have some wonderful photos? You take your film to the lab for processing, and are handed a packet of badly-exposed, unattractive prints of your wonderful vacation photos! That is one of the most frustrating experiences of a photographer's life. Whether you are shooting for scrapbook memories, or shooting photos for use in a calendar or on greeting cards, nothing is more frustrating than finding that you have unusable prints. The cure for this is to switch to a digital camera, if you haven't already done so. Next, follow a few simple procedures and you will never look back. Never again will you have to endure the disappointment formerly associated with shooting film!

The convenience and beauty of shooting photos with a digital camera outdoors is stunning. You will be able to see exactly what you photographed within seconds of shooting, as digital cameras give you the ability to review your images immediately. That is one cure for poorly-exposed or badly-composed pictures!



When you are outdoors on a sunny day and you are photographing people, understand that the sunlight will not always cooperate with your plans of a great family shot or individual portrait. Sunlight can cast harsh shadows across your subject, making an unevenly-lit image that is neither clear, nor aesthetically pleasing to the eye. A 'fix' for this issue is to always remember to use your flash when shooting people outside on a sunny day. This might sound odd, being that there is seemingly plenty of available light for your picture, but if you really want everyone in the photo to look bright, clear, and natural, shoot a frame with your flash activated and see the difference for yourself! You will be very happy with the results. What is also nice about digital cameras is the ability to delete any photo you shoot which may not meet your expectations. Just the simple pressing of a button can give you a whole new "˜blank canvas' to start again with! Practice snapping a few frames using the flash and then without the flash. You will notice the difference immediately and you will probably never again want to shoot a daytime, outdoor "˜people' picture without the flash!

Incidentally, the same lesson applies when you are outdoors on a cloudy day where there is no sun. Using your flash to photograph people will 'warm up' the photo and you will still get a nice shot regardless of the weather.

Lesson 2 - Photographing Moving Objects or Scenarios

Have you ever wondered how those lucky professional photographers manage to shoot gorgeous photos of waterfalls that look like they are in motion? I am sure you have seen the water look as though it is flowing gracefully, literally spilling softly down the rocks like a dream. This is just a creative use of a camera's shutter speed function. You will need to refer to your digital camera manual briefly to understand how to change the various functions on your camera such as shutter speed and aperture settings. To start with, find your waterfall! These natural wonders can be found in almost every state in the union, and most abundantly in exotic places like Hawaii and Mexico. Waterfalls will look pretty in your vacation photos just shooting them normally, with your camera's automatic settings, which actually "˜freezes' the action of the water as it is falling. This is a nice look, but not as dramatic as snapping a photo of flowing water with its soft, almost ethereal appearance. To achieve the flowing appearance you need to slow down your shutter speed. This accomplishes a couple of things automatically on most digital cameras. It opens up the aperture to allow more light into the lens, and adjusts the speed that your shutter opens and closes, allowing the action to be recorded onto your memory chip. This effect is a little easier, perhaps to accomplish on a standard camera using film, especially one that has primarily manual settings. The difference is, when you change your shutter speed on your digital camera, you do not have as much control over how much light your lens allows in. This is because digital cameras operate on a slightly different principal than manual ones, and you will not have the ability to make very slight changes to the aperture setting, or the amount of light your camera allows in once you change the shutter speed setting. No matter, you can still shoot that flowing effect of the waterfall; you will just see in your viewfinder what looks to be a rather over-exposed picture of the waterfall. The effect will be apparent, but it will seem far too bright. This is easily adjustable once you get your images uploaded to your computer and import the picture into an image processing program, such as Adobe Photoshop. Once you open your image in Photoshop, you can adjust the brightness and contrast. Your waterfall photo will look correctly-exposed, and will be lovely. Just try this technique out and see. For a "˜ballpark' idea about how slow to adjust your shutter speed to in order to achieve this effect, put your digital camera in manual mode and change the current shutter speed to slower than 1/60th of a second. I recommend 1/30th or even slower. Your light metering will be a bit "˜off the scale,' but remember that you can adjust the brightness and contrast later. Your digital camera may not allow you to adjust the aperture if you adjust the shutter speed to lower than 1/60th of a second, so just understand that you will have to adjust the lighting yourself once you process the image on your computer.

Lesson 3 - Indoor Photography in Natural Lighting or Using Flash

If you decide you would like to shoot some indoor photos, in particular of people, you will find that different lighting scenarios can change the "˜mood' of your photo. At all costs, be sure to avoid photographing any person under fluorescent lights. These lights give off a greenish-yellow aura, which is very disturbing when you see your recorded image! Not very flattering to a person's natural coloring, that is for sure! If you are in a room where there is a fluorescent light, either turn it off and just use your flash, or keep the light on, but change your flash to a higher setting if your camera allows you to adjust the intensity of your flash. Most digital cameras do have variable flash settings.

If you are photographing in a home with lamps and other various incandescent sources of light, you may want to try a few frames with just those lights on. You can sometimes achieve a nice soft look for a portrait. If there is a window with light coming through it nearby, you may want to place your subject near the window (not directly in front of it, though) so that some of the light shines upon them. This is called a "˜window light portrait' and can be very effective if used by itself or in conjunction with your flash or another light in the proximity. The best suggestion, of course, is to experiment with different combinations of lighting, and see which effect ultimately looks the best from your own perspective.

In summary, you have learned a few tips and ideas for shooting some slightly more creative photos. Once you master some of these lessons, you should find that your photography has improved quite a bit! Have fun, and shoot some great photos.

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