Christmas photography is coming up, so you should be checking the batteries and wiping the cobwebs from the trusty digital camera. Then what?
I would like to tell you some of the things that the digital camera students have learned, things that might help your dilemma.
Taking photos indoors in the daytime? Have your back to the window so that the light will fall into the room, not your lens. Try taking a photo of the lit Christmas tree without using the flash.
Shooting a group? Ask if they can see you; if so then their face will be in the photo. Take control.
Shooting an individual? Get rid of onlookers. Make sure to focus on the eyes. Get in close. Turn the camera vertical so that you get more of the person.
Check the background in the viewfinder or LCD screen, make sure that there are no trees growing out of your subjects head. Use a large aperture such as f2.8 or f3.5 so that the subject is sharp but the background is out of focus. Have the subject look at the object they are holding.
Try taking the photo with the light on the side of the subject (side lighting) or even behind them (silhouette). Shoot candidly, don’t pose the subject.
Shooting children? If you are lucky, you will have three minutes. Shoot kids from their level: get down near the floor. Shoot photos in sequence, tell a story with the camera. If the subject is moving, make sure that you leave room in your photo for the subject to move into.
Problems with lag time on the camera? Make sure that the batteries are fresh. Check to see if your camera card is almost full.
Before you take the photo, focus on the subject and press the shutter button down halfway. This will set up the focus, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance so that when you take the photo by pressing all the way down on the shutter button, the camera has very little work to do and the shot should be almost instantaneous.
For DSLRs (digital single-lens reflex cameras), do not touch or clean the reflex mirror in the camera. Do not use canned air, the pressure is too much.
Make sure that when you change lenses, you have the next lens ready to go, caps off and right side up, then point the camera to the ground and quickly switch lenses. This will prevent most of the dust from reaching the sensor.
Shoot RAW, capture all the colours, all the data, all the texture. Bounce or soften flash as often as possible.
Use mirror lock-up (if you have it on your camera) for very long exposures. Use the tripod and self-timer for long motion blur-free photos. The long exposure also works to get rid of people walking by when you are shooting a building.
Change perspective, shoot from high.
Any questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Norman Silverstone teaches photography through North Island College and Eldercollege in Port