Even though we now have the luxury of digital cameras and smartphones to help us take as many pictures as we want to make sure we get just the right shot, digital photographers are still faced with many pictures that are better off being quickly deleted rather than saved and shared. If you’re looking to help add some intrigue and interest to your digital shots, here are ten tips for taking better digital pictures that will surely help you improve your overall quality of photos, no matter what your subject.
Stoop to their level – Whether it’s a static object on the ground, pets or kids, get down low to take a picture from the level of your subject. Your pictures will reflect this different perspective, and provide an added layer of interest as you look at things from a slightly different angle.
Flash is your friend – Just because you’re outdoors doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the flash. In fact, using a flash outdoors is a great way to use the natural sunlight to properly illuminate objects at a distance while placing a light focus on your subjects in the foreground.
Get up close – Familiarize yourself with your camera’s macro focus setting, and take pictures from very close to your subject. If you think about the way your eyes work, you are focused on a certain depth while others are visible but slightly blurry. Macro focus is a great way to replicate this feeling with nearby objects.
Try different positions – Tile the camera sideways, or even take some crooked pictures. Many digital cameras have some sort of “fisheye” effect around the judges, so taking vertical pictures or shots that fit the entire subject may help capture a more realistic perspective on your subjects.
Move away from the middle – Experiment with placing your subject at various parts of the frame, whether it’s the left or right third, or perhaps in a corner. Help gain a better perspective on the overall world and circumstance by making sure the photo’s focus is somewhere besides the middle of the frame.
Watch the light – Be aware of where the sun is (and isn’t), or where other light sources may come into play. If you’re taking photos of people, you may want to take photos with the sun in their faces, but be aware of not only your shadow but also whether or not they all have to squint. Observe light patterns and adjust your photo composition accordingly. And take lots of photos during the golden hour right before sunset. There’s a reason professionals often schedule photo sessions for this time of day when the sun is low and the light is spectacular.
Decide whether to observe or take charge – Depending on the situation, you may either want to let events happen as they are, or manage your photo composition and subjects. Decide what you’re going to do, and realize that moments only happen once, so do whatever it is you need to do to ensure you incorporate all the photo elements you want into your pictures.
Use a tripod – Tripods don’t have to be three feet tall and cumbersome. There are portable tripods for less than $5 that can fit in your pocket and help provide a steady hand for pictures. Better yet, with a portable tripod, you can use your camera’s auto-timer and take pictures with the whole family or group – no need to omit the photographer or solicit a random European tourist to snap photos for you.
Utilize camera settings – Learn about basic functions that can transform bright light or sunset pictures with a simple switch. Many cameras have pre-set options for different light situations or sporting events, as well as assisted modes which provide many of the features of “automatic” while providing tweaks to focus and aperture. The best way to learn about all these is to experiment.
Don’t overzoom – Zooming can be a great way to help force focus and find something really far away, but for the average sharpshooter, zooming can lead to missed pictures or blurry results if the auto shutter settings have been slowed down at all. Unless you really need to zoom, use it with care and know that you can crop the picture if necessary.