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Digital Photography Tips: Improving Picture Quality

One of the advantages of digital cameras over traditional film-based models is units’ sheer simplicity. Today, taking pictures is a simple “point and shoot” process – plus, you can see the results immediately on the back of the camera. But let’s face it: Our photos don’t always turn out like they should, even with this advancement in technology. Is it that some of us just have a natural knack for photography while others are all thumbs? Perhaps, but by the time you finish reading through these tips on taking better pictures, chances are you’ll discover a vast improvement in your images.

  • Ever notice your friend’s photos of their kids always feature them looking up at the camera? This is because adults tend to stand upright while shooting downwards towards the child. Instead, you’ll get a better shot by matching the height of the subject in your photo, such as kneeling down to snap a picture of a toddler (or, on the flipside, stepping onto a chair to get a shot of a bird in a backyard tree).

  • When taking a photo of someone, try to find the perfect distance between you two. If you’re too close, for example, it’ll likely be too blurry. But if the person is too far away, you may miss out on key traits such as eye color, a cute birthmark, or freckles. You can, of course, stay in one spot and use your lens to zoom in and out, but don’t be afraid to take a step closer to your subject or a step away.

  • Red-eye is a drag. This happens quite a bit with light-eyed kids and pets. When you use a flash, the light reflects off the back of their retinas, causing their irises to look devilishly red in photos. Some cameras and printers feature anti-red-eye solutions, plus software packages are pretty good about fixing it too, but the best bet is to take your photos using available natural light, such as afternoon sunshine, to avoid this common problem altogether. If your camera does have a red-eye reduction feature, try it, but be aware it might result in a double-flash (and warn your subjects!).

  • Here’s a good one. Taking photos of active kids and pets can be tough because the shutter doesn’t usually respond quick enough to capture the moving images in time. This is a common complaint among digital camera owners. To compensate for this, press the shutter button half-way down to tell your digicam you’re about to snap the shot (you may even see some auto-focus info through the viewfinder to confirm it’s ready for you). When the subject is front and center of your lens, press the button all the way down and you’ll see that it takes the photo much faster.

  • Know your flash’s distance. Many people try to take pictures of a large room, such as a concert stage or wedding dance floor, only to be disappointed at the dark image. This is because many pictures are taken beyond the maximum flash range, which is usually about 15 feet for most cameras (or about five steps away). You can find your flash’s range in the manual, but to be safe, get in closer for the shot and zoom back as far as the lens will go.

  • Always choose the maximum picture resolution your camera can handle, such as 10 or 12 megabytes. Digital cameras often let you change this setting to medium or low resolution so you can fit more images onto the memory card, but once your shots are at their highest quality, you will have a lot more flexibility and options in terms of what you can do with them once they’re on your PC. For example, if you need to resize one because it’s too big to email, you can do this (after creating a backup of the original, of course) without detracting from image quality by shrinking it down in size. Or you may decide to blow a fantastic picture up to a framed 13×19 for your hallway – this would be hard to do, and still maintain an attractive print, with a low-quality image. On a similar note, memory card prices have dropped considerably, so conserving space shouldn’t be an issue any longer.

Check out 10 Picture Taking Tips for more photography tips

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Christopher Nickson
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Chris Nickson is a journalist who's written extensively about music and related fields. He's the author of more than 30…
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