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Move In Closer
Digital Photography Secret 1
by David Peterson
Almost any shot will look better if you take two or three steps closer to your subject. Filling the frame entirely with your subject will make a terrific difference to your photos.
Alternatively, instead of moving closer, use the Optical or Digital Zoom of your camera to get a close up shot.
When taking shots of family and friends, most people place the subject's full body in the frame, or place head and arms in the shot. Instead, fill the frame with your subject's FACE only - particularly if they are smiling or are in a moment of reflection.
Why does this work? With less clutter in the image, there's less to draw the eye away from the main subject of your photo. Also, human faces (particularly children's faces) are something we all feel pleasure looking at.
If you can't get close enough when you're taking the shot, you can zoom in later using photo editing software - crop out everything except the subject's face and see what a difference it makes.
When using the viewfinder for close shots, be careful of Parallax. Because the viewfinder is not at the same position as the camera's lens, centering the subject in the viewfinder may mean it is not centered for the lens resulting in an off-center final picture. Most digital cameras now come with an inbuilt LCD screen. You can eliminate this problem by using the LCD - which shows you what the lens sees - rather than the viewfinder.
Next time : A secret to help you move closer without sacrificing picture quality.
Use Optical rather than Digital Zoom
Digital Photography Secret 2
Cameras are marketed with both an Optical Zoom and Digital Zoom capability.
If you've used a film camera, you'll be used to optical zoom. Optical zoom uses the lens of the camera (the optics) to bring the subject closer. Digital zoom uses clever software to digitally enlarge a portion of the image - thus simulating optical zoom.
So, which is better? Definitely Optical zoom. Here's why.
Digital zoom is not really 'zoom' in the strictest definition of the term. Digital zoom just enlarges the image. Eg it takes a portion of the image and enlarges it back to full size. You lose quality because of the enlargement process so photos that have been taken with digital zoom won't look as good as those without.
You can perform the same result using image editing software on your computer. In fact, it can be better to crop and enlarge using your image software in your computer as you can decide exactly what part of the image to enlarge, and how much to enlarge by.
So when taking shots, use optical zoom only. If you need to zoom in further, use your editing software to select the best part of the image to keep. Ensure your camera warns you when it's switching to digital zoom from optical zoom, or use your settings to disable digital zoom entirely.
Why is clarity important? The more clarity you have in your image, the larger the printed size can be without the image appearing fuzzy, or blocky. If you want to keep clarity in your images, use the optical zoom whenever possible, and avoid the digital zoom.
How do you use Optical Zoom? When you zoom in using your camera, it will use Optical zoom first and then use Digital zoom. You can usually set your camera to notify you when it starts to use the Digital zoom, or tell it to not use digital zoom at all. Consult your manual for details.
Next time : A little known secret, used all the time by professionals, that result in a pleasing, nicely balanced photo.
Place your subject off-center
Digital Photography Secret 3
by David Peterson
Rather than placing your main subject in the middle of the screen, place it to one side and ensure something interesting is in the background that fills the remainder of the image.
This can be especially effective if the background has the same theme. For example, if photographing a child opening a Christmas present, frame them to one side and have the Christmas Tree with unopened presents filling the rest of the image.
There are a few guidelines that cam help you place your subject in the frame.
The Rule of Thirds
One of the most popular rules in photography is the "Rule of Thirds". It is a simple rule that can add dynamism to your photos. Simply, divide the image into thirds both horizontally and vertically. When composing your shot, place important elements either along these lines, or where the lines intersect - NOT at the centre of the frame.
For example, place a subject's eyes where the top line is, or place your subject on the place in the image where two of these lines intersect.
It's a very simple rule to follow and will result in a nicely balanced, easy on the eye picture. It also helps get rid of the 'tiny subject and large amount of space' tendency because you need to position items relative to the edges of the frame.
Having said this, the Rule of Thirds is also one of the rules you'll want to break often! This is fine - the Rule of Thirds is more of a guideline and sometimes you will find a better image when you break the rule
Photographing Children
Digital Photography Secret 4
by David Peterson
Children make a wonderful subject. Here are some tips for ensuring photos of children are even more memorable.
Meet them eye-to-eye
Bring yourself down to the child.s level . even if you need to crouch down. This will give your shots a 'kids eye view' and won't distort their image (as taking the shot from above does).
Capture natural expressions
While posed shots are great, often better results can be gained by capturing an image when their thoughts are preoccupied with something else . eg while at play. You.ll capture their faces enjoying the moment rather than thinking about the camera.
Familiarity ensures success
Children who have grown up having their photo taken will be a lot less likely to freeze or show off in front of a camera. Start early and make photo taking a part of every day out.
Children grow up quickly
Record their growth from toddler to child to young adult by taking a family photo every year around the same time . either the first day of school, or during spring events.
Next Time : A technique for ensuring that with every group of photos you take, you'll always have a couple of great ones