Five Tips For Taking Better Photos With Your Camera

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]

Use A USB Drive To Boost Performance In Windows Vista

You can use a USB flash drive for much more than storing data. If you’re running Windows Vista, you can use a USB flash drive to speed up your system with the ReadyBoost technology.

ReadyBoost uses the storage space on a USB flash drive as an additional memory cache to aid the memory cache on your hard disk. Since flash memory is faster than a hard disk, the memory cache provided by ReadyBoost significantly improves system performance.

ReadyBoost is not difficult to use. Simply insert your USB flash drive into your computer and follow the onscreen prompts to configure and use ReadyBoost.

The Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i/500D Companion

There should be an image here!Learn how to take pro-quality shots with your Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i/500 and get your digital photography questions answered with the latest book from O’Reilly. In The Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i/500D Companion, expert author Ben Long delivers a one-stop digital photography guide through a series of practical, easy-to-follow lessons that are tailored specifically for people who use this camera.

Although the Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i/500D comes with a manual, Long explains why you need this book to get the most out of your camera. “Knowing what each button on your camera does won’t necessarily mean you can shoot great pictures. Personally, I know the basic concept of a paintbrush, but I can’t paint a decent painting to save my life. To use a creative tool well, you must understand both the technique and the craft of the tool, as well as have some sense of artistry when you use it.”

That’s where The Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i/500D Companion steps in. This is not a typical camera guide. Rather than just showing you what all the buttons do, this unique book teaches you how to use the Digital Rebel’s features to make great photographs — including professional-looking images of people, landscapes, action shots, close-ups, night shots, HD video, and more.

The Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i/500D Companion will show you how to:

  • Take creative control and go beyond automatic settings
  • Learn the basic rules of composition
  • Capture decisive moments, including fast-moving objects
  • Discover ways to use a flash indoors and outdoors
  • Learn about different lenses and the best time to use them
  • Understand the options for shooting RAW and whether it’s right for you
  • Use the Digital Rebel’s ability to shoot high definition video

With Long’s creative tips and technical advice, you have the perfect, camera-bag-friendly field reference that will help you capture stunning pictures anywhere, anytime.

Mastering the Nikon D700

There should be an image here!Mastering the Nikon D700 provides a wealth of information and professional insights for owners of this powerful new camera.

Each chapter explores the features and capabilities of the D700 in detail, surpassing basic user manuals by providing step-by-step menu setting adjustments coupled with illustrations and logical explanations for each option. The writing style of authors Darrell Young and James Johnson allows the reader to follow directions in a friendly and informative manner, as if your friends dropped in to share their experienced knowledge without “talking down” to you, explaining the how and the why.

The learning experience for D700 beginners (and refresher information for professionals) goes beyond the camera itself. When camera features and options expand to additional Nikon equipment (such as with the use of optional Speedlights) the authors add the necessary information.

The authors’ frequent references to user manuals provided by Nikon (complete with specific page references) allow the reader to easily navigate past the confusion factor that often comes with new equipment.

Topics include:

  • Metering systems
  • Auto and manual modes
  • Custom setting banks
  • Histograms and white balance settings
  • Shooting menu banks
  • Auto and custom settings
  • Picture controls and playback menus
  • Set up, retouch, and My menus
  • Nikon Creative Lighting System
  • Tips and tricks and much, much more

Mastering the Nikon D700 is another title in the Nikonians Press series — the exciting, new, joint venture between Nikonians and Rocky Nook.


Digital Camera Boo Boo

Gnomie Jim Wink writes in with this heart-tugging tale of gadgetry woe:

Hi Chris,

I’m writing you because it looks as though you are quite the handyman when it comes to digital cameras. I was wondering if you or one of your readers could help me out at all or lead me in the right direction. If so I would really appreciate it!

What happened is that my girlfriend and I recently went on a cruise and, like a fool, I jumped in a hot tub totally forgetting that I had the camera in my swimming trunks. I tried to turn it on not too long after this, but the camera lens stuck out and it said “lens error” and it wouldn’t retract. At first it didn’t work, but my girlfriend used the blow dryer inside of the camera and eventually we could see the photos on the memory card, but had no use of the camera and it also said there was still an air within the lens.

The next day I turned the camera on and the lens retracted finally. It allowed me to take a couple of perfect pictures. I was extremely excited as I figured the camera had been fixed. My girlfriend walked in the door and I tried to take a picture of her, but as I attempted to zoom in, the camera said “error” again and wouldn’t retract.

As of now we can take perfect video and look at our pictures, but when we take new pictures they come out kind of choppy. It looks perfect on the screen but after we take them they are still choppy with horizontal lines down them. What do I do? Do I need to get this camera fixed, try to fix it myself, or buy a new one? It’s an HP R742 and new ones go for about 180 bucks. Any ideas?

Kodak Easyshare Software v7

Organize your photos, express your creativity, and get connected to Kodak Gallery, the online service, with Kodak Easyshare. Kodak Easyshare seamlessly gets your photos off your camera and organized on your computer with just a few clicks. Reduce red-eye, create greeting cards, albums, photo-mugs, and order other great photo gifts from the Gallery.

[1.44M] [WinXP/Vista] [FREE]


Is It OK For The Border Patrol To Search Laptops?

There seems to be some concern whether the US Border Patrol should be allowed to search laptops, whether there is suspicion of illegal activity or not. Two US Senators, as well as others are questioning the policies that the US Border Patrol has in place and whether they are necessary to protect the US or not. In the article it states:

“If you asked [U.S. residents] whether the government has a right to open their laptops, read their documents and e-mails, look at their photographs, and examine the Web sites they have visited, all without any suspicion of wrongdoing, I think those same Americans would say that the government has absolutely no right to do that,” said Feingold, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights. “And if you asked him whether that actually happens, they would say, ‘not in the United States of America.'”

Two witnesses at a hearing before the subcommittee Wednesday described widespread CBP searches of electronic devices at borders, with data copies and devices sometimes confiscated for weeks. One Muslim executive at a U.S. tech vendor has been subjected to border interrogations at least eight times since early 2007, said Farhana Khera, president and executive director of Muslim Advocates.

Other travelers have been asked why they are Muslim, were questioned about their views of U.S. presidential candidates and had laptops and cell phones searched or confiscated, Khera said. “Innocent Muslim, Arab and South Asian Americans from all walks of life have had their electronic devices searched by CBP agents, or have been interrogated by CBP agents … all without any reasonable suspicion that the individuals were engaged in unlawful activity,” she said.

I am not sure if I completely understand why the US Border Patrol is checking laptops, digital cameras and other electronic devices. We have this statement as well:

Searches of electronic devices at borders have caught several child pornographers and can be used to prevent terrorist attacks, he said. 

How does one prevent a terrorist attack by catching a child pornographer?

But what do you think? Should the US Border Patrol be allowed to view emails on a laptop in the name of national security?

Comments welcome.



When you take a picture with a digital camera, there’s just so much that you can do with it. Although you may opt to keep it and share it like it is, if you actually want to have some fun with it, then you’ll find no shortage of desktop applications and online tools that will help you take your images beyond what they were originally. Since most of us aren’t skilled graphic designers, we’re limited in terms of what we can do, so convenience and simplicity are very important. Even if you don’t know anything about image editing, you can still have some fun with Kyolo.

This service exists for one purpose, and that is to help you put speech bubbles on your photos. The inserted text can be humorous or serious, although you’ll find that most people use tools like this to make fun of images. You can get started without creating an account, and using Kyolo is as easy as uploading your picture, adding and customizing the speech bubbles, and then sharing the modified image with your friends by sending the link to them via e-mail or using it on your Web site. If you’re having a rough day, try to have some fun with Kyolo.


My wife has a digital camera, but we hardly ever use it. As you can imagine, she uses it a lot more than I do, but even then, we barely take any pictures with it. You see, I enjoy looking at pictures, but I’m not a shutterbug in any way. Whether you enjoy looking at pictures or snapping them yourself, there’s certainly a lot to love about what the Internet has done for photography. Thanks to the Web, images can be shared with a worldwide audience quickly and efficiently, and when you think about online photo sharing, you can’t help but bring up Flickr.

Flickr is the king, and while there are a lot of imitators, there is only one Flickr. In addition to pictures, Flickr also now enables you to upload and share videos, but whether you upload pictures or videos, your content will be right at home with Flickr. Content is easily organized, tagged, and notated, and you can even use what you’ve created to make cool things like stamps and photo books. Flickr represents Web 2.0 at its finest, so if you haven’t done so, create an account and start sharing your digital memories today.

Top 5 Canon DSLR Tips

Gnomie Quin Barrie writes:

Hey, Chris!

We got the same cam.

Here are my tips for getting the most out of it.

  1. Hand Strap (absolutely indispensable)
    • allows you to hold the camera without having to constantly maintain grip
    • prevents dropping the $ camera from loss of grip
    • allows you to walk with the camera with a relaxed hand, yet keeps the camera always at the ready
    • does not dig into your neck like a neck strap (which also can cause the cam to pendulum into your stomach)
  1. Battery Grip
    • immeasurably improves the ability to grasp and hold the camera
    • allows use of a second battery — greatly extending shooting time in all modes
    • adds mass to help reduce shake and blur
  1. Quick Release/Lock Tripod Plate
    • if you’ve ever had to take a camera on and off a tripod with the usual screw mount, you’ll instantly see the advantages of a quick tripod release plate
  1. Tripod Ball Head
    • Many many times more rapid to use than a conventional tilt/pan tripod head.
  1. Shoot in RAW format for important shots, jpeg for casual photos.
    • It can take a bit to learn the advantages and editing techniques of RAW format photography, but the imaging results are definitely worth it, particularly for printing.

Sony (Alpha) DSLR-A100 10.2 Megapixel SLR

There should be an image here!The Sony (alpha) DSLR-A100 10.2 Megapixel SLR Digital Camera is a top-quality 10 megapixel digital SLR camera (who’d have guessed by its name?) that builds on a two-decade legacy of Minolta photographic leadership.

It accepts all Minolta A-mount lenses sold worldwide (Maxxum & Dynax), and introduces Sony imaging innovations like high-sensitivity shooting with Super SteadyShot in-camera image stabilization, Dynamic Range Optimizer to automatically increase detail in bright and dark picture areas, Anti-Dust technology to keep the CCD imager clean for better pictures, and Eye-Start Autofocus system for faster camera response.

Special price: $499.95 + shipping

Any Gnomies have a take on this product? Good or bad, we’d love to hear about it! Comments are absolutely welcome.

Kodak EasyShare Z1275 Zoom Digital Camera

There should be an image here!The Kodak EasyShare Z1275 Zoom Digital Camera incorporates a 5x all-glass zoom lens in a surprisingly compact camera body. The Camera records images with resolution up to 12.1 megapixels, and features a 2.5″ display. It also has Kodak Perfect Touch Technology for automated image enhancement, on-camera cropping, a histogram display, and a vast array of user-friendly features.

Furthermore, Kodak’s proprietary color science chip yields pictures with natural and accurate flesh tones, and impressively vibrant color overall. The EasyShare Z1275 Zoom makes it simple to get sharp pictures -even in low light, thanks to an incredible high sensitivity capability with ISO settings available up to an astounding ISO 3200 with certain image limitations.

The camera also incorporates digital image stabilization to ensure sharp images when shooting in low light or fast moving subjects. Twenty programmed scene modes (e.g., party, fireworks, children) and five color modes are available to help capture the best shot with the least effort, and the EasyShare Z1275 camera also records TV-quality VGA video at up to 30 frames per second using advanced MPEG-4 compression. On-camera picture-enhancing features include cropping, auto picture rotation, digital red-eye reduction, and blurry picture alert.

The EasyShare Z1275 also integrates Kodak’s Share button with its ‘favorites’ feature for storing multiple pictures in an on-camera digital photo album. Each picture can then be shared anytime on the camera’s high-resolution LCD display, or print and share your pictures by using the Kodak EasyShare system.

Special price: $149.95 + shipping

Any Gnomies have a take on this product? Good or bad, we’d love to hear about it! Comments are absolutely welcome.

Kodak EasyShare M853 Digital Camera

There should be an image here!The Kodak EasyShare M853 Digital Camera is loaded with a vast array of features that make great picture taking incredibly simple. The camera has a resolution of 8.1 Megapixels, which allows you to print clear, crisp images up to 30 x 40″ in size, and a 3x optical zoom lens that makes the camera great for typical family and vacation shooting.

In addition the camera has a high ISO setting that can produce clearer pictures in low-light situations. It also has Digital Image Stabilization and Kodak Perfect Touch Technology so you can take consistently better shots under all sorts of shooting conditions. Plus, the vibrant 2.5-inch LCD screen is perfect for instantly sharing clear, bright pictures and videos whether inside or outdoors.

Special price: $114.95 + shipping