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1 Digital Camera Mondays

Digital Camera Mondays: November 16th

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Many amateur photographers feel that they lack the quality in their photos since their equipment they use is not as great as those used by professional photographers. Professionals do have an advantage over amateurs purely by the fact that their equipment are more expensive and higher in imaging quality. This does not automatically mean someone with an expensive camera will always take better photos. Many professionals lack one element when on a photo shoot. This element is time therefore many professionals use the more expensive cameras to allow them to quickly adjust and set the camera for the ever changing lighting conditions or use equipment that is specifically suited for the condition they are shooting in. Lower priced consumer cameras take much longer to adjust for each shooting condition meaning the opportunity to take that one money making shot could be lost.

Today, I wanted to discuss how you can utilize your existing camera equipment to improve your photos since time is not an issue. First and foremost is you need to understand the ins and outs of your current camera. All digital cameras have a number of buttons that allow for customization. Be it from adjusting the ISO setting, white balance, how the camera focuses, if the flash is on or off etc. . .

The first setting you should learn NOT to use is the standard AUTO format. This is the most common mistake most amateurs make. The auto mode is good in taking pictures but not great. If you want the everage shot then us AUTO. If you want better than average shots then use the custom setting or the semi-auto setting which includes a feature called SCENE.

SCENE is one common feature included in digital cameras that I feel is an excellent way to help improve your images. SCENE comes in various choices like:

Night SCENE

Sports SCENE

Portrait SCENE

Landscape SCENE

MUSEUM SCENE

Flower SCENE

Sunset SCENE

Fireworks SCENE and many more.

Each should be self explanatory and does wonders over using the default AUTO setting of your camera. To find out how to select the various SCENES on you camera, you need to refer to your owners manual. This might be a huge undertaking for you but is a must read if you have any interest in improving the quality of your photos.

Another feature that is crucial for any photo shoot is the ISO setting. This setting is used to determine how the camera utilizes the given amount of light it senses. Basically the ISO determines the cameras sensitivity to the given light. Thus typically a camera is set to ISO 100 for bright outdoor use and 400 for typical low light indoor use. These are just examaples and the actual ISO used can vary widely from 60 – 400 outdoors, 100 – 1600 indoors and 400 – 1600 or higher for outdoor night time shooting. Again these numbers are just examples and the actual camera and lighting condition will determine the best ISO setting to be used. At least uderstanding that you should have at least 100 outdoors and 400 indoors set on your camera can make a world of difference when taking pictures. The wrong or automatic ISO setting can turn a great shot into an average shot or ruin the shot altogether. An average shot means the right subjects are in focus but the color, contrast, shadow and highlights are not at its optimum image levels.

Another crucial setting that makes a world of difference is the white balance. This is a setting that in better cameras will require you to take a picture of a white surface in the desired photo taking surroundings. This will allow the camera to understand what a true white surface looks like in the given lighting conditions and adjusts all the colors accordingly. This means the reds show up red and the blues show up blue instead of red being dark orange and blue being green in some cases.

Many of the simpler cameras allow you to select outdoor, incandescent, or fluorescent as the lighting source as the selection for the white balance. Most point and shoot cameras will automatically show you the differences on the LCD display. Choose the white balance setting that looks as close to the actual scene that you see with the naked eye. By doing this once for every different lighting situation you come across, you will dramatically improve your final images in the end.

By utilizng, SCENE, ISO, and the white balance, you can dramatically improve the quality of your images very quickly. Practice using these settings and you will be glad down the road that you took the time to learn about these 3 crucial settings available at your fingertips.

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