- Jump Start Your Photography 3 DVD Set
- Bryan Peterson's Understanding Composition Field Guide
- Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera
Singing the Blurry Blues.
- Understanding Shutter Speed: Creative Action and Low-Light Photography Beyond 1/125 Second
- BetterPhoto Basics: The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Taking Photos Like a Pro
- The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography
Blurring the Background.
Fingerprints and Smudges on your Lens.
- Nikon Lens Pen Cleaning System
- Zeiss Pre-Moistened Lens Cloths Wipes
- Canon Optical Digital Camera and Lens Cleaning Kit
- Giottos AA1900 Rocket Air Blaster Large
- Microfiber Lens Cleaning Cloth
- Giottos CL1001 Large Cleaning Kit with Small Rocket Blaster
- Hoodman Lens Cleanse Natural Cleaning Kit
DSLR Dark Spots.
The Dreaded Accidental Photo Deletion Trick.
- Take Your Best Shot: Essential Tips & Tricks for Shooting Amazing Photos
- 110 Perfect Photography Tips for Beginners!
- The Complete Photo Manual: 300+ Skills and Tips for Making Great Pictures
- 50 Photo Projects - Ideas to Kickstart Your Photography
- Photo Op: 52 Inspirational Projects for the Adventurous Image-maker
- Composition: From Snapshots to Great Shots
- Exposure and Understanding the Histogram
- Photojojo!: Insanely Great Photo Projects and DIY Ideas
- The Print and the Process: Taking Compelling Photographs from Vision to Expression
So, you’re new to photography or maybe a beginner with a bit of experience…shooting pictures of people, places and events in your life with a compact camera. You may have even “graduated” to a DSLR and have a considerable bit of experience. You’re having fun with photography, especially sharing images via social media, but there are also times when your photos don’t look as good as you think they should, or something goes wrong with your camera.
Chances are you’re facing the same challenges that many beginners do, and even some photographers with new DSLR cameras; but the information in this PhotographyTalk article will help you improve your photos and make them more appealing.
Giving your photos the proper exposure, or amount of light, can still be tricky, even though your camera has a “P” (Program) and an “A” (Automatic) mode. In most cases, shooting in either mode will direct the camera to select the right exposure; however, there are some scenes that your camera won’t read so well.
A snow scene in winter may confuse your camera in either of these exposure modes, producing a photo without a sufficient amount of light, in other words, underexposed. You can overcome this challenge with a bit of knowledge about EV Compensation. Look in your camera manual to determine where on your camera you can adjust it. Some cameras will have a +/- button while others provide control of EV Compensation in the menu. In this particular snow example, you’ll want to increase the compensation by +1, but remember to set it back to 0 once you’ve taken your shot.
The other half of the exposure challenge is when you place your subject in front of a strong light, such as the sun. This is one of the most common mistakes of vacationers, shooting directly into the sun with the subject between the camera and the light source. Your camera will tend to read the exposure of the bright sky and not the person, which causes a loss of detail in the sky and the person to look like a dark blob or silhouette. The best solution is to turn everything 180 degrees, so the light source is behind you and is striking the front of your subject. You can also use your camera’s flash to illuminate the front of your subject. This is called fill flash. Your camera will still expose for the bright background, partially, but the strongest light will be reflected off your subject.
Anytime you are using your flash, including the fill flash example in #1 above, you must be the correct distance from your subject. Otherwise, the light could be too strong and overexpose your subject, losing most of their details. You’re apt to find the solution to this problem in your camera manual also, if your camera has a built-in flash. Of course, the most logical solution is to step back from your subject, so the light has farther to travel from the subject to your camera.
The other flash challenge for many beginner photographers is firing it in a dark room, with no other light sources. With only your flash striking your subject, harsh shadows will be cast and his or her image will look flat, very two-dimensional. Plus, the background is just a black space. This may be a great effect for Halloween or a crime drama, but whenever you’re photographing people in an interior space, you want other light sources to help define the scene. Again, you want to learn how to balance the light from your flash with the ambient light to create the best-looking flash images.
The lens on your compact camera is likely capable of focusing quite close, but there is a difference between close-up photography and macro photography, although the two terms are often used interchangeable. Close-up is pressing the “flower” button or “flower” icon in you camera’s menu and being able to frame tightly on a flower. Macro photography typically requires a DSLR camera and a separate (and expensive) macro lens, so you can focus on the interior parts of the flower, or insects and body parts of insects. You could also use extension tubes on a “standard” lens to achieve macro-closeness. If true macro photography interests you, then consider renting a DSLR and lens for a weekend and taking an online course on macro photography.
A good photo needn’t have perfect lighting and color to be interesting and a keeper; but a blurry photo has no real value. Sharpness is one of the most important qualities of the best photography, so if your pictures are blurry, then you’re facing one of two challenges. First, you probably weren’t as careful as you should have been about checking your focus. The solution is some focus practice, which starts with spending just a bit more time being sure the focus is crisp before tripping the shutter. The second challenge is camera shake or subject motion. In almost all cases, these problems occur because you’re shooting at too slow of a shutter speed. You can’t steady your hand or body enough to compensate for how slowly the shutter operates when you take a picture, or even the slight movement of your subject. You might need a tripod, or increase the ISO setting, so you can shoot at a faster shutter speed.
The same solutions to blurry photos apply to photographers with DSLR cameras; however, they have the advantage of using a different lens with a “faster” aperture, or the size of the opening of the lens. An f/2.8 lens, for example, will allow twice as much light to enter the lens and register on the sensor than an f/4 lens.
You want to shoot people pictures, portraits, with blurred backgrounds just like the pros. Good for you! It gives your photos more three-dimensionality and creates the effect of distance between the subject and the background. Unfortunately, a compact, or point-and-shoot camera, can’t achieve this effect.
A DSLR camera and the right kind of lens are required to control the background blur in your photos. Again, the aperture, or the size of the lens opening, helps you blur the background. The wider opening you use, or the smallest f-stop numbers (f/1.8, f/2, f/2.4, etc.), the blurrier the background. You can also control the background blur of your images by moving closer to your subject.
Another slight disadvantage for compact, point-and-shoot, camera owners is that the front lens element is exposed. Photographers with DSLR cameras will often have a filter on the front of the lens, so the front element is protected. Even if you don’t see a fingerprint or smudge, you want to clean the front of the lens regularly. Manufacturers use special coatings to protect the lens and retard the effect of the oils in the skin, but the strength of these coatings will diminish without regular cleaning. Your best cleaning tool is a microfiber cloth, which is specifically manufactured to be safe. Disposable lens wipes can also be used if they are approved for surfaces with anti-reflective coatings. Acquire a small hand bellows that uses air to remove dust, so you can minimize touching the lens.
A common challenge—and surprise—for DSLR photographers is the sudden appearance of dark spots in their photos. If you’ve experienced this problem, then there is likely to be dust on the camera’s sensor. Check your manual to determine if your camera has an automatic sensor cleaning system. If your camera doesn’t offer that feature, then the sensor will have to be cleaned manually, which should be done by a professional camera cleaning service. You can do it yourself and save some money, but it’s a delicate operation, so unless you’re absolutely sure you can perform it successfully without damaging your camera, a professional cleaning is your best choice.
Just as during the heady days of computer discs, it’s easy to become confused and accidentally delete images from an SD card. Even if you’ve re-formatted the card, the magic of digital technology still retains your photos on the card. Of course, once you start shooting new photos on the card, the system is writing over the older pictures…and they are truly lost.
When you’ve played this “trick” on yourself, you have an array of memory card recovery software available to you to restore your images. A quick Google search will provide you with all the best choices.
When your camera’s batteries always appear to be low and need constant recharging, then you probably need a new set of rechargeable batteries as specified by the manual. Your batteries may be fine, but leaving the rear LCD activated all the time will drain power as quick as any other device on your camera. If you shoot with a DSLR, then power down the LCD and use the viewfinder to compose photos. You can’t turn off the LCD on a compact, or point-and-shoot, camera, but you can deactivate the automatic display of the most recently captured image.
One of the benefits of owning a compact camera is that you can take it with you everywhere and often carry it in your pocket or a purse. Having your camera with you all the time increases the possibility of it being damaged or diving into a puddle or body of water. If this happens to you, then all may not be lost! Retrieve your camera, and make the first things you do is to turn off its power (and leave it off) and remove the batteries. Dry the exterior carefully, so no additional water enters the body. When you arrive home, place the camera in a closed container with silicon packs or uncooked rice to absorb all the moisture, even from inside the camera. Wait at least 48 hours before checking your camera for moisture, and turning it on again. Re-install the batteries and if it does power up properly, then try to operate it and take a few test pictures. If all seems fine, then goody for you! Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work. Then, it will require examination, cleaning and possible repairs from a professional. Depending on the circumstances of the dunking, your camera could have also “drowned” and will never come back to life.
Overcoming any or all of these common challenges for beginner photographers and DSLR enthusiasts will help you advance your skills quickly and allow you to concentrate on taking better pictures.
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