My gosh! This digital technology has moved fast. I can remember talking to an expert photographer in Boseman, Montana, and he said “get yourself a digital camera, any digital camera you can find, some version of PhotoShop and begin to make pictures.” That was five years ago and I haven’t really looked back.
My next introduction to this exciting medium came while attending a photography workshop on Mt. Rainier,Washington. That was four September’s ago. I had a little 2MP (megapixel) point-and-shoot camera in my pocket, but was using my film camera for the important photographs. Several others were using the current DSLR (digital single lens reflex) cameras of that time. At the time, I still thought those cameras were only for photojournalists and commercial photographers. Then, while looking at each others photographs, one fellow from Oregon showed us his 11×14 inch prints and I was amazed at the quality. He was using a 3MP DSLR camera. I came home and within days had purchased my first DSLR camera.
The other day I was asked a question on the basics of making better pictures with a digital camera. If you are using a fully automated camera these are my suggestions for setting its menu or programs mode.
Turn off Auto ISO. Select the lowest or no higher than 200.
Turn off the Red Eye Reduction. Red Eye Reduction sometimes allows camera shake as the flash cycles thru several flashes before releasing the shutter.
Image Quality – select the highest available. Some may say this will reduce the number of pictures one can take on a memory card, but with today’s value-priced memory cards one should have 512MB or more.
Sharpness: choose Auto, Off, or Normal. The Photo Labs will sharpen your image just fine. If you are a PhotoShop user, learn how to sharpen the image yourself!
Functions: Gosh these cameras have lots of stuff that seems neat, but can be done by your Lab or in PhotoShop – probably better – like B&W (black and white) or Sepia tone. My preference is to select colour and make B&W later rather than have no future choices.
If you are using your camera in program mode get out your manual and learn about Exposure Compensation. Most digital cameras on the market offer some means to control exposure, even the fully automatic ones. Some magazine articles say “just shoot and fix it in PhotoShop,” however, how much time do you want to spend trying to fix those poor images? The saying is “garbage in, garbage out”.
The exposure as captured by a camera is decided by measuring the brightness of a subject.
What if we are photographing friends standing in the snow or a bright reflecting lake with the light behind them? Unfortunately, they will be under exposed because the camera will read the light around them.
Since the introduction of photography, photographers have been doing something called “bracketing”. That is what I suggest you try.
Under Expose and Over Expose – Using your camera’s exposure compensation function. Every camera model does this in a different way so I won’t fill up this article trying to explain.
My last suggestion; and you will have to do this to learn exposure compensation, and that is, “Read your camera’s instruction manual.”
These are my suggestions to get you started making better pictures with your digital camera. I’ll have more next week.
About The Author
John Enman owns and operates Enman’s Camera at 423 Tranquille Road in Kamloops. Enman’s Camera sells new and used photographic equipment and offer professional wedding photography. Check out www.enmanscamera.com or call John at (250) 376-4715 for all your camera equipment needs.