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9 Tips for Great Digital Photos

1. Exclude And Simplify.

The single best way to improve your images is to fill the frame. Walk closer to yoru subject or zoom in for tight framing for a greater sense of intimacy. To maintain high resolution, use optical zoom only, not digital zoom. If the background is cluttered, find a better angle or move your subject. Greater reliance on close-ups and simplicity should help to improve the impact of your pictures.

2. Take Better People Pictures.

Photograph people interacting, or involved in activity to make pictures more interesting. In a posed portrait, strive for eye contact for a sense of intimacy and shoot from the subject's own eye level. Photograph children from their own eye level. If using flash, activate the red eye reduction feature. Also brighten all room lights to cause your subject's pupils to close down to reduce this effect.

3. Use Flash Outdoors.

Most cameras have a Daylight Flash mode that will cause it to fire even in situations where the built-in computer does not consider flash necessary. Activate flash to soften facial shadows cast by a hat. Or use it to add a catchlight to the eyes in the shade. In high contrast situations -- with a background of bright sand, water or sky -- flash can moderate the contrast level. On dark overcast days, flash can help produce richer colors while adding necessary contrast.

4. Avoid Wide Angle Distortion.

When taking pictures of people, try to maintain a distance of about six feet. A wide angle close-up portrait shot produces distorted facial features. Zoom to the longest focal length available with the optical zoom lens, and move farther back for the most pleasing pictures. A similar problem occurs when you photograph buildings. It's tempting to use the wide angle setting and then tilt the camera upward. This creates distorted perspective. Move farther back and use a longer zoom setting.

5. Control The composition.

On most digital cameras, the autofocus detection sensor is located in the center of the viewing area. consequently, most digicam owners tend to center their subjects. But an off-center composition is more pleasing for most situations. Fortunately, most cameras include Focus Lock: as long as you maintain slight pressure on the shutter release button, focus will not change. So begin by centering your subject to focus, then reframe for a more pleasing composition.

6. Use a Firm Support.

Flash cannot illuminate an entire city skyline at night, although it will fire in such conditions. The result will be dark and murky, beyond correction. If you de-activate flash and shoot handheld, the pictures will be blurred from camera shake. Set the camera for Flash Off operation and mount it on a tripod. Then set it up on anything solid; in a pinch, brace the tripod against a wall for support necessary for a sharp picture.

7. Shoot And Re-shoot.

Photographers using film-based cameras are usually concerned about the cost of film and processing. With a digital camera, this concern is not relevant because you can quickly delete any images that are less than ideal. Explore the subject from a variety of angles, with and without flash, at longer and shorter settings of the optical zoom. You'll find that you rarely captured the essence of the subject in the first shot.

8. Avoid Excessive Compression.

Most digital cameras offer several Image Quality options. A 153KB file at a 640x480 pixel resolution is more than adequate for Internet use but not for prints of decent quality.

If you want to make prints, you'll need at least a 100x100 pixel resolution for a detailed, sharp 4x6 print. For a quality 8x10 print of the highest resolution setting (with least compression) of a 2-megapixel camera would be required. If you want to shoot high-resolution images for making prints, an optional high capacity card (perhaps 48MB) is a good investment.

9. Use Image Editing Wisely.

Avoid the temptation to over-sharpen an aimage because results will be grainy. Don't waste time trying to sharpen a motion blur or an out-of-focus subject because that's virtually impossible to achieve. Think of retouching software as a tool and not a substitute for good photographic technique.

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