How to Take Good, Sharp Digital Pictures - Tips Pros Use
by Photo Enhancer
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Almost anyone can take good, sharp pictures with any digital camera if they follow the suggestions I make on this page. The advanced features on expensive digital cameras are there for convenience and selling cameras more than necessity. Granted, higher mega pixel cameras will take better pictures in adverse conditions. But, even the cheapest, off the self digital camera found in a Kmart can take excellent, high quality pictures if used right in good lighting conditions.
How to take good, sharp digital pictures. Plus some tips the Pro's use:
- Make sure the camera lens is clean. Fingerprints on the camera lens are a common cause of blurry pictures.
Make sure the area the subject is in is well lighted. I leave it to you to experiment and learn how to use the flash if you have one because all flashes are different. Natural lighting or bright, but distant artificial lighting from above and behind the camera is often best. Keep the sun or light source to the camera's back if possible. The light source can be from the side of the subject as long as it doesn't shine directly into the camera lens. Shield the camera lens from the light source if necessary. Make sure the subject can still be seen through the camera lens.
- If you're camera has anti-shake, use it.
- Turn digital zoom off and never turn it back on. If you have digital zoom, don't use it. Digital zoom is only good for selling cameras. It doesn't work and should never be used.
- It's ok to use the zoom lens as it is a true zoom.
If your camera has a zoom lens (you can see the subject move closer as you adjust it), use it.
Set the f-stop value (if available) to about the distance the subject is from the camera. This is technically incorrect. But, it works if you don't know how to set the f-stop. (Optional. But worth reading.) Here are some suggestions on how to correctly set the f-stop:
- Lighting similar to daylight at noon on a slightly overcast day is best.
- Too little light on the subject causes dark pictures and/or blotches.
- Too much light on the subject causes over-exposure (wash out).
- Light colored clothing and reflective surfaces can reflect to much light into the camera and cause over-exposure.
- Most photographers take better outdoor daylight pictures than indoor pictures.
- Now you know why news reporters stand outside in all kinds of weather for broadcasts.
- Pros often use the subject, trees or buildings to block the sun from the camera's eye when they have to point the camera towards the sun or bright light. They also use a higher than normal f-stop number (1 or 2 stops) to make the shutter size smaller. Raising or lowering the camera may prevent direct sunlight from entering the camera.
- Do this experiment to learn more about exposure. Set the f-stop to the highest setting of infinity . You can do this even if you don't have an f-stop. Set the camera outside at night pointed down a dimly lit street and lock (or hold) the shutter open. Keep the shutter open until at least one car with the headlights on has passed in the direction (back to front) the camera is pointed. Keeping the shutter open while more cars pass in the same direction (like on a one way street) is better. Look at the resulting picture. The streaks of light the passing car headlights caused will stand out the most. Notice how clear some of the surrounding areas are even though they're pitch black when you look at them. Also notice the over-exposed areas the headlights produced. The more you think about what caused these things, the more you will understand exposure.
Focus on the subject with the subject in the center of the camera lens. You can always move the camera so the subject is off to the side if wanted after you have the camera focused correctly. Auto focus always focuses on the object in the center of the camera lens. So, make sure the subject is the first thing seen in the center of the lens (the fuzzy circle). If a tree
branch, for example, can be seen before the subject in the center of the lens, auto focus will focus on the branch and you may end up with a blurry subject.
- The f-stop is the depth of field that will be in focus. You say "What?" Lets say you focus the camera on a subject that is 10 feet away and you set the f-stop to 3 (as in feet). This means everything that is 10 to 13 feet away from the camera lens will be in focus. Everything closer or more distant will be out of focus. If you only want the person you are taking a picture of to be in focus, set the f-stop to 1 foot or 0.3 meters and focus on that person's face. The greater the f-stop number, the greater the depth of field. The infinity symbol means everything from the point of focus to as far as you can see.
- Some more f-stop number and shutter speed tips: These generalized techniques take trial and error practice to master. But, with digital cameras, it isn't expensive. So, experiment away when you have time. All your pictures will benefit from it.
- Intentional under-exposure: Pros often set the f-stop to a higher number (1 or 2 stops - narrows the aperture) and quicken the shutter speed in over-bright conditions to prevent too much light from entering the camera. If your camera has an f-stop setting, it probably has an ISO setting. On film cameras, the ISO setting was always set to the speed of the film. Digital cameras don't have film. So, the ISO setting controls the shutter speed. The lower the ISO setting, the slower the shutter speed. For example, use an ISO setting of 100 (slower shutter speed) for still shots and 400 (faster shutter speed) for fast moving objects.
- Intentional over-exposure: Conversely, they set the f-stop to a lower number (2 or 3 stops - widens the aperture) and slow the shutter speed in dark conditions to allow more light to enter the camera.
- Slow moving subject in good light: Lower the f-stop (1 stop) and increase the shutter speed slightly faster than for a still shot (ISO setting of 200 instead of 100).
- Fast moving subject (usually sports) in good light: Lower the f-stop (2 or more stops) and increase the shutter speed even more (ISO setting of 400).
Prevent camera shake. Camera shake is the most common cause of blurriness. Camera shake is more pronounced when using digital cameras because digital cameras are more sensitive to movement. If you don't have a tripod, rest your hand or the camera on something to prevent camera shake. Quickening the shutter speed will make up for some shakiness.
- You can also set the focus by focusing the camera on something that is the same distance from the camera as the subject will be. This works great when you know you won't have time to focus on a subject who will be passing by at an undermined time.
- The numbers on the focus ring (if you have one) represent how far, in feet/meters (f/m), the subject will be from the camera. If you are unable to look through the view finder to focus the camera, these numbers can be used to set the focus.
- The camera doesn't care what it's focused on. It only needs good focus (f-stop and ISO set correctly if you have them) and good lighting for good pictures. That's why cheap cameras take just as good of pictures as expensive SLR's. And, that's why holding the camera above your head, or turning it on it's side or shooting from the hip works. Just be sure to hold the camera still.
Digital cameras are more sensitive to camera shake than film cameras.
- An increasingly more common cause of blurry pictures is movie screen captures and movie stills. These can be difficult to work on and sometimes impossible to do anything with. Reason being: the colors all bleed into one another. Trying to make a precision cut without blurry edges is like trying to separate a broken yoke from egg whites - next to impossible.
- It should be understood with these as with all enhancemments, the resulting enhancement may only be as sharp as the poorest pictures I'm given to work with. I'll try to make them better but poor quality pictures sometimes prevent this.
Use the camera's timer option if available for self portraits and still shots. If you don't have a tripod, set the camera on a desk, table, chair or whatever is available. Books etc. can be used to raise, lower and angle the camera. Put something where the subject (you) will be and focus on that from the same distance and angle as the camera will be. Set the
lighting on that area also. I use a digital camera's self timer and a tripod almost exclusively on still shots. I hardly ever used them with my film camera. That's an example of how much more sensitive digital cameras are to camera shake than film cameras. It can't be because I'm older and my hands shake more.
Studying them is often very enlightening.
- Take lots of pictures...
- Enjoy the good ones...
- Learn from the bad ones before deleting them.
I am sometimes asked: "How large should I make the digital pictures my camera takes?" I say make them the largest size available. If you don't like the results, work down from there until you find the size you like best. Remember, a 8 x 10 inch print requires a minimum of a 1440 x 1800 pixel digital picture at 180 ppi. Use the link below to determine print sizes.
Click here to use my free print size calculator to calculate optimal print sizes.
PS. Those who say they never look good in pictures are very photogenic. Even their bad side shows up well.
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