I thought I’d pass along some photo tips given the number of pictures taken over the holidays and the wide range in how we take pictures. Here are some tips to hopefully make your shots better capture the moment :
1. Flash — Friend or Foe: I notice during a lot of my kids’ events at an auditorium or outdoors that flash tends to be on by default. On any camera with self-contained flash and especially on a mobile device, the flash will only work in a range of 10 to 15 feet at best. This means that your flash firing when you’re shooting beyond that is merely draining your battery or illuminating the backs of heads in the rows in front of you. I’d disable the flash if you are shooting any farther as it does not help you; it actually makes your picture worse.
2. Secret Setting — ISO: A lot of cameras allow you to adjust the ISO setting which is typically a number between 200 and 1600 (varies widely by camera and not all cameras allow changing). The short story on why ISO is important is that it basically helps you adjust how your camera shoots depending upon the brightness/darkness of what you are shooting. If you are in bright sunshine, you should set your ISO down to a lower number, say 200 or 400. If you are in low light or far away from stage, you should set your ISO to the highest number, say 1600 or so. So if you are in the bleachers at an auditorium, disable your flash and crank your ISO up. An important caveat here is that the higher the ISO, the higher the noise in your picture so shooting in low light at high ISOs, will give you grainier pictures. But sometimes that the best you can hope for. A bit technical but super important in having a shot versus nothing.
3. Image Quality— The short story here is that , in my opinion, you should shoot at the highest image quality possible. By default, a lot of cameras are on intermediate as using the highest resolution consumes more memory. Given how inexpensive cards and memory are for cameras, I don’t think it’s a good tradeoff to sacrifice space for quality. Also, if you have a higher end camera, you typically can shoot in JPEG mode or native mode or both. I would shoot in both or native as memory is fairly inexpensive and if you are a photo geek, shooting in native mode will enable you much flexibility and range in your photo editing. I advise avoiding JPEG completely if you plan on doing any photo editing. Caveat: shooting in native mode means you typically have to convert to another format to get it printed.
4. Printing — No matter how good your shot is, if the photo printing is poor, your framed portrait will suffer. As processing quality is highly variable at the local chains, I advise that you take the same image and ask a few places to print a 5×7 and compare results. You will be stunned. For my important shots, I take them to Photo Images in Glenville. Locally I prefer Walgreens for more standard portraits.
5. No Cheese — My photography pet peeve is “cheese” as if forced smiles somehow make an image better– it does not. Some of my favorite shots show expressions running the gamut of exasperation, sullenness and ire. Sometimes patience for the right moment pays off. In the spirit of candor, yes, I have bribed my kids to pose for a shot; not proud of that, just sayin’
6. Monopods — If you don’t want to lug a tripod around, you can gain more stability for video with a monopod. Of course, not helpful with a mobile device but for handheld video it gives you a way to avoid the Blair Witch effect.