Snap happy

If you want to shoot photos like the pros, stay tuned as Windows shows you how to take great snaps...

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By  Cleona Godinho Published  November 1, 2006

|~||~||~|If you think you have to have a professional SLR camera, lighting gear, and a certification from the International Photography Association to take excellent pictures, think again, because great pictures are well within your reach if you follow a few simple rules. Here then are seven top batches of photography tips and techniques, courtesy of the pros, that will help you take striking images every single time. But don’t just take our word for it. Try these yourself and send your thoughts, along with your creations, to windows@itp.com. 1. Create a killer composition Just as a composer uses all the instruments in an orchestra to create a stirring symphony, you should compose each photo so that its parts work together to create a stunning snap overall. Each item in a picture has an effect on the whole, so don’t just point and shoot. Instead consider these guidelines: - Try taking both horizontal and vertical photos of the same subject. A subject that you might usually think of as horizontal can sometimes make a stunning vertical snap - Although you know what your subject is, it can be hard for a viewer to determine your intent if there are many elements in your picture making it confusing. Eliminate unimportant elements by moving closer, zooming in, or choosing a different shooting angle - Change your position to emphasize or exaggerate how big or small your subject is; crouch down and shoot someone from below and that person will tower over you. Shoot looking down on your pet and it will seem almost comically small - Place your subject off-centre to make your composition more dynamic and interesting.||**|||~||~||~|2. Stay in focus An out-of-focus photo occurs as a result of not framing your subject properly and not employing a technique known as focus lock. How to avoid out of focus shots: - You’ll notice a focus area, usually marked in some way, in the centre of your cam’s view finder - Position the focus brackets on your main subject - Lightly depress the shutter release button to drive the lens into focus - While lightly depressing the shutter release button, recompose your picture as desired - Fully depress the shutter release button to take the picture. ||**|||~||~||~|3. Say goodbye to underexposed shots What it is and why it happens Underexposure simply means that not enough light made it into your camera, resulting in a dark photo. This is usually caused by low lighting, being too far away from your subject, or your camera’s shutter speed being too fast. How to prevent it: - Move closer to your subject - Manually adjust the shutter speed on your camera and set it to a slower speed - Overexpose your image. To do this, change your camera’s exposure settings. For lighter photos, increase the exposure -for darker photos, turn it down. ||**|||~||~||~|4. Shoot moving objects Why it happens Blurry photos of moving objects (see above) mostly occur due to a lack of light and a slow shutter speed. How to prevent it: - Use a flash to make the subject clearer - Use a tripod or brace yourself against a stationary object when shooting - If your camera has an ‘Action’ shooting mode, turn this On. This setting automatically optimises your camera’s shutter speed to capture movement - Turn on your camera’s anti-shake mode if this feature is offered.||**|||~||~||~|5. Zoom in: take clearer close ups Why it happens Unclear close ups are mainly caused by unsteady hands and a lack of distance. How to prevent it: - Turn your camera’s ‘Close up’ mode On. If it doesn’t have such a mode, you can still take a close-up shot with your zoom lens. Position the camera a few feet away from your subject, and zoom in until you get the same picture composition as you’d have got from moving closer to the object. - Always use a tripod as even a little motion can cause a blurry photo. A special kind of tripod, called a ‘tabletop’, is great for shooting flowers. ||**|||~||~||~|6.Prevent over contrast Why it happens Shooting in bright light conditions, including natural sunlight, can result in photos displaying very light and very dark areas adjacent to each other (in other words, the difference - or contrast - between light and dark, is very noticeable). Not only can this look a little intense, these snaps can also look washed out or fuzzy (see inset below). How to prevent it: - Use a flash. This may seem counterintuitive, but a flash will cast an even light over your subject - Don’t be put off by overcast days - If your camera has an ‘Adaptive lighting’ setting, turn this On. You’ll achieve a better balance between light and dark areas, bringing details out of the shadows. As a result, your photos will look more like what your eye sees.||**|||~||~||~|7.Dump red-eye Why it happens Red-eye is caused when light from your camera’s flash reflects off the retina of your subject’s eyes. It is a very common problem that even professionals face. How to prevent it: - Turn off your camera’s flash - By taking photos during the day, you’ll most likely eliminate the need for a flash - If it’s too dark to go without a flash, ask your subject to look toward the camera, but not directly at the lens - If necessary, bring in an additional light source such as a lamp. - Stand farther away from your subject - Some cameras boast an ‘automatic red-eye removal’ feature. If yours does, make sure this is activated. ||**||

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