Gnomie Evan Krosney writes:

There should be an image here!I’ve composed a list for you of five tips to use to take better pictures with your camera; A basic point and shoot camera, or a big Digital SLR Camera (DSLR).

1. Don’t use flash when your subject is far away.

Ever take a picture at a concert or a show, your camera fired off a flash, but everything looks dark except the people in front of you? This is because your camera senses the dark, and thinks that it can fix it by firing off a flash, not knowing that the subject is very far away. Camera flash is only so powerful enough to reach a few meters ahead, so when the flash fires off, it can only brighten up the people in front of you.

This can be fixed in a simple way. First, set your camera to manual mode. This is usually indicated by a picture of a camera with an M next to it. Next turn the flash off. Depending on your camera, you may need to go into a menu to do this, or your camera may have a dedicated button. The flash off symbol is a lightning strike with a cross over it. After that, turn your camera’s shutter speed to a smaller number. Shutter speed is the length of time that the camera opens the lens for to capture light. Shutter speed is usually represented by a fraction. 1/3 is usually a good speed to take pictures at.

Also, make sure that your camera’s aperture, or “F Stop,” is at the lowest number. The aperture is how large the opening of the lens is. A lower number lets more light in, because the lens is opened wider. Aperture is usually represented by the letter F, then a number, like F8. If your camera can’t change the shutter speed or aperture, try changing the exposure compensation. This is a chart, usually ranging from -2 to +2. Set the camera to +2, and your picture should come out brighter. Note that with these techniques, the camera will be more sensitive to shaking, so be sure to hold still.

2. Try taking more pictures without the flash.

As I mentioned earlier, using flash doesn’t always work. Sometimes, when you’re taking pictures indoors, using a flash will give the picture a brighter effect, but sometimes it will also make a reflection or a darker background. This is because the camera uses a faster shutter speed, like we discussed earlier, so a smaller fraction, usually 1/250. Using this won’t give the camera enough light, so the camera uses and artificial light, in this case, the flash. The dark background is because, like I said earlier, the flash can’t reach that far.

By turning off the flash, you’ll get better pictures with more “True to life” colours, more even lighting, and an overall nicer effect. Changing the exposure compensation to +1 to +2 would also work. Remember that you can’t shake when taking the pictures, and your subject must remain still as well. Otherwise, the picture will have a blur.

3. Don’t delete bad pictures!

Many pictures can be fixed after you take them, in programs like Adobe Photoshop. If a picture is too dark, or, “Under Exposed”, it can be brightened in post editing. Some things can’t be edited though. For example, if your subject is out of focus, you’ll need to retake the picture. You can’t fix a bad focus, unless you want to draw the picture and the details to fix it, which I’m sure you don’t want to do. If the picture has a blur, retake it.

Blur is a very hard thing to fix, and required a very long time to fix even the slightest blur. It’s not worth the effort to try to fix it. Though, as I said earlier, pictures can be brightened, red eyes can be changed colours, even backgrounds can be blurred like in professional pictures. Also, many fun things can be done with pictures, even in basic programs such as Microsoft Paint. You can draw on the pictures, crop them or overlay other pictures. Post editing is very handy, especially with a program like Adobe Photoshop. For beginners, Adobe Photoshop Elements would be a better choice, as it has an easier to use interface, only the essentials and it costs hundreds of dollars less.

4. Make use of your camera’s viewfinder.

Now a days, most basic point and shoot cameras have large 2.5 or 3 inch displays, that take up most of the back. Though, if your camera has a smaller screen but it includes a viewfinder, consider it a blessing. In bright sunlight, you’ll probably find that it’s hard to see the image on the camera screen, on account of LCD displays are hard to see in bright light. In this case, a viewfinder is probably an essential for good shots. The image seen through viewfinders is not interrupted by any lights, so it’s easy to see.

Though, when using a viewfinder on a basic point and shoot camera, you won’t be seeing exactly what the picture will be. On professional DSLR cameras, there is a prism that lets the light from the lens go to the viewfinder. On point and shoot cameras, there is no prism. You’re basically just looking through a hole in the camera. Some DSLR cameras, called Range Finder cameras, have the same technology as point and shoots, it’s just a hole in the camera. The problem with this is that the picture that you take will be different than the picture that you saw through the viewfinder, but they’re still very useful.

5. Understand that cleaning a lens requires more than just a tissue.

NEVER try to clean a lens with a tissue. To clean your camera lens to get rid of fingerprints or dirt, you’ll need a micro-fibre cloth. You can purchase one at your local camera or electronic store for about $10 or $20, plus, it will come with a cleaning kit with a special liquid. Also, many new DSLR cameras use a self-cleaning technology. This works, but it’s good to clean it by yourself sometimes to get out more. If you don’t think that you can clean your camera, be sure to take it into a camera repair shop, where they can clean it for you.

[Photo above by Sweet One / CC BY-ND 2.0]