Tips for taking better photos

Here are some great tips for taking better photographs.

Move away from the middle
Center-stage is a great place for a performer to be. However, the middle of your picture is not the best place for your subject. Bring your picture to life by simply moving your subject away from the middle of your picture. Imagine a tick-tack-toe grid in your viewfinder. Then place your subject at one of the intersections of lines.

Use a plain background
A plain background shows off the subject of the photo. When you look through the viewfinder, force yourself to study the area surrounding your subject. Make sure nothing seems to grow out of your subject, like street signs, gates or automobiles.

Look your subject in the eye
Direct eye contact can be as engaging in a picture as it is in real life. When taking a picture of someone, hold the camera at the person’s eye level to unleash the power of those mesmerizing smiles. For children, crouch down to their level. Your subject does not need to always stare at the camera.

Move in close
If your subject is smaller than a car, take a step or two closer before taking the picture and zoom in on your subject. Your goal is to fill the picture area with the subject you are photographing. Up close you can reveal details in a person’s facial features.

But don’t get too close or your pictures will be blurry. The closest focusing distance for most cameras is about three feet, or about one step away from your camera.

Lock the focus
If your subject is not in the center of the picture, you need to lock the focus to create a sharp picture. Most auto-focus cameras focus on whatever is in the center of the picture. But to improve pictures, you will often want to move the subject away from the center of the picture. If you don’t want a blurry photo, you need to first lock the focus with the subject in the middle and then recompose the picture so the subject is away from the middle.

It usually takes three steps to lock the focus. First, center the subject and press and hold the shutter button halfway down. Second, reposition your camera (while still holding the shutter button) so the subject is away from the center. And third, finish by pressing the shutter button all the way down to take the picture.

Use flash outdoors
Bright sun can create deep facial shadows that hide details of your subject’s features. Eliminate those shadows by using your flash to lighten the face. When taking people pictures on sunny days, turn your flash on. You may have a choice of fill-flash mode or full-flash mode. If the person is within five feet, use the fill-flash mode; beyond five feet, the full-power mode may be needed.

On cloudy days, use the camera’s fill-flash mode if it has one. Also take a picture without the flash, because the soft light of overcast days sometimes gives unique and pleasing results as well.

Know your flash’s range
The number one flash mistake is taking pictures beyond the flash’s range. Why is this a mistake? Because pictures taken beyond the maximum flash range will be too dark. For many cameras, the maximum flash range is less than fifteen feet╉about five steps away.

What is your camera’s flash range? Look it up in your camera manual. Can’t find it? Then don’t take a chance. Position yourself so subjects are no farther than ten feet away. Film users can extend the flash range by using Kodak Max versatility or versatility plus film.

Lighting
Next to the subject, the most important part of every picture is the light. It affects the appearance of everything you photograph. When shootong an elderly person, bright sunlight from the side can enhance wrinkles. But the soft light of a cloudy day can subdue those same wrinkles.

Don’t like the light on your subject? Then move yourself or your subject. For landscapes, try to take pictures early or late in the day when the light is orangish and rakes across the land.

Take some vertical pictures
Many subjects look better in a vertical picture. So next time out, make a conscious effort to turn your camera sideways and take some vertical pictures.

Be a picture director
Take control of your picture-taking and watch your pictures dramatically improve. Become a picture director, not just a passive picture-taker. A picture director takes charge. A picture director picks the location: “Everybody go outside to the backyard.” A picture director adds props: “Girls, put on your pink sunglasses.” A picture director arranges people: “Now move in close, and lean toward the camera.” Most pictures won’t be that involved, but you get the idea.