Digital Camera Tips And Tricks
Digital Camera Tips And Tricks
Mark Comon (Vice President, Paul's Photo, Torrance, CA) gives expert video advice on: How do I prevent getting the "red-eye" effect?; How can I take red-eye out of my photos?; How do I capture fireworks with my digital camera? and more...
Can I use auto focus even if my subject isn't centered?
With the advent of auto focus in the mid 1980's, most people forgot about focus as a creative tool on their camera and it's extremely creative. What's in focus is the subject; what's out of focus is not a subject of the picture. Most of today's automatic focus cameras have what we call a multi-point focus. The centre dot is used for focus, yes, but many of our cameras have the ability to move the focusing dot or to select an auxiliary dot for focus. So, the easiest way to get off centre focus is to select the dot as not in the centre, but to the side. If your camera doesn't have multi-point focus it's very simple to get off centre focus. You use what's called focus lock and this is on SLRs or on compact cameras. When you press halfway down on the shutter release, that locks the focus and you'll see a light or a symbol come on in the camera that tells you that focus is engaged and is locked in. So, as long as you press down halfway on the shutter release, you can lock focus wherever you want. I put the centre dot on my subject, and press halfway down on the shutter release. Leaving the shutter pressed halfway down, I then bring the camera back, frame it as I wish, and take the picture. That way you've locked focus on an off-centre subject.
What can I do if the flash on my digital camera isn't bright enough?
With your digital camera if you're taking flash pictures and they're still too dark, generally it means you're too far away. The flash in your compact digital or on your SLR that's built in is good to eight or ten feet - no farther. In the instruction book it may tell you 12, 15, 18 feet, but it's never going to happen. Eight to ten feet. So the basic rule is: get closer or add an extra flash to the top of your camera, and then you can shoot farther than the eight or 1 feet. The hard part is your kids are in a play or a pageant or something where you have to be 15, 20, 30 feet away. The only way to get good flash pictures: add a flash to the top of the camera.
What are some tips for shooting waterfalls with my digital camera?
Waterfalls are a great subject to shoot. My first tip? Don't get too close - you'll get wet. You have to decide whether to do a wide angle lens to get the whole waterfall in, or take a telephoto and zoom in to just get a detail. One of the things you also need to do when shooting waterfalls is to vary the shutter speed. Whether you're going to do that in aperture parity or shutter parity mode doesn't matter, but you want to speed the shutter speed up to freeze the action, or you want to slow the shutter speed down to blur and get the waterfall all milky and artistic looking. That's what you do with waterfalls to make it look great in film.
Can I get good pictures if I shoot into the sun?
Shooting into the sun is one of my favorite types of light. It's called, "back light" because everything gets this beautiful halo around it. Now, the exposure can be kind of tricky. You can use the sun in slow mode or the back light mode in the camera. But, what I like to do is use the spot metering mode, and then light meter for the subject. And that way the subject is light metered properly and the background will generally be to light. We don't care about the background because it's all about the subject in our picture. Under back light another option is to use the flash. You can use fill-in flash when shooting into the sun. But, one other thing I don't like about doing that is that the fill-in flash ruins that beautiful back light look that you created. Now, it's a different type of picture. You may like the fill-in flash look; you may like the back light look. And, that's why photography is so great, because there is never one right answer to any problem. And, its all depends on what you see, what you like and what you want to create with your pictures.
What are the most common issues amateur photographers have?
Working in the camera store everyday, I see two problems. First one; people don't get close enough to their subjects. I tell people every time, the first thing you do is get as physically close as you are able to with your subject, and then use your zoom lens to zoom in to fill the frame as much as you can. If I am shooting a sporting event a lot of my moms and dads will want to sit up in the top of the bleachers, because that's where they are comfortable. But you can't take a sporting event picture from their. I'm always on the sidelines, as close as I physically can to get the picture, and then I use my telephoto lens to get it. The second problem that I see each and every day is the wrong use of light. People come in complaining about their pictures because they're too light or too dark or too shadowy, or too this or too that, but they don't understand the basic concept of good light versus bad light. They don't understand front light, side light, top light, back light, and how that effects their pictures. Photography by definition is writing with light, and if you don't understand the light, you'll never be able to make great pictures.