After I bought my first digital camera in 2002, a mighty Samsung Digimax 350SE with a whopping 3.3 megapixel at an outrageous price around 500 Euros, complete with its little 1.5 inch viewing screen, people would ask, “Can I see the picture?” Children would ask me to take their picture, and then run over and ask to see it, then run back and ask me to take another!
By the way, here is a photo I did take with that Digimax 350SE.
It’s great to have all that excitement, but were my pictures the best they could be? I had to learn some lessons since then :-).
Here are 7 tips I have learned that have improved the quality of my photos.
- Always use the highest resolution setting. At the start, I had the resolution set to medium. That way I could take about 100 pictures before having to download the memory card to my computer’s hard disk. That was fine for viewing on screen, but then one day I wanted to do an 8×10 paper version, and the results were disappointing.
Today – with SD cards are very cheap – there is no reason to not shoot with the highest possible size. And yes! I shoot RAW (too) …
- Whenever and wherever it makes sense – don´t be shy to use a Tripod. OIS and IBIS aside – even the slightest movement of the camera can create a blurry image. Invest in a tripod. And don´t be cheap, therefore I wrote invest. 150 Euros will buy you a trustworthy tripod with a standard head. I have also found that when taking group shots, I am better able to judge when to trigger the shutter if I am looking at the group, rather than through the viewfinder.
- Buy a good Photo-Editing Program. Perhaps your camera came with Photoshop Elements, or similar. If not, do some studies and buy a software which will suit your needs. Many people will jump on the Adobe rental offer for Photoshop and Lightroom CC at around 12€/month. If you are not into Adobe or renting or both there are a bunch of other possibilites. Affinity Photo, ON1 Photo RAW and DXO PhotoLab, just to name a few which I could recommend.
- Be careful with compression settings is you chose software. Most programs default to “jpeg” format, which saves space by removing pixels, and recreating them the next time you view the photo. If you open, edit, and save a photo multiple times, the over-all quality decreases. Try to do all your editing in one pass, using the lowest compression, or use a format like “tiff”, which does not compress. Or … did I remember that I shoot RAW? RAW processors provide you with a non-destructive workflow.
- Get in Close. Don’t waste pixels on excess background. Get in closer, either physically or with an optical zoom.
- Good Things Come in Threes (or more!). Considering the incremental costs of taking a photo with a digital camera (close to nil!), you should take more shots than you might have done in the golld old film days. If the shot is available for more than a few seconds, take more that one exposure. I always tell the subjects of my photos I will take at least 2 or 3 shots of them. A blink at the wrong time ruins the potential.
- Read the Manual. In fact, read it more than once. As if I have to explain this one!
Image credit: Designecologist
Here’s an equation for you.
(LOTS of photos with your digital camera) + (the above tips) = (a day coming soon when you’ll be proud to show off your creations)
Title image credit: Kelly Sikkema