Tips on Taking Photographs with a Digital Camera

I’m not a professional photographer, but I do enjoy taking pictures. I try to take the best pictures I possibly can, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I bought my first digital camera in 2002, and since that time I have been learning some tricks and tips that I can use to take better photographs.

In this post I will provide some tips that have helped me through the last few years, and hopefully they will help you.

Camera Settings

Most people that take pictures usually keep the camera on full Auto, meaning they just take the photo, download and print it. I don’t mind the Auto setting, but I prefer to make a few camera settings.

  • Digital cameras usually have a white balance setting. Change this setting to match the lighting conditions:
    • For sunny and cloudy days I change this setting to “Cloudy”. Some DSLRs also have a “Shade” setting that you can also use.
    • For indoor shots with regular incandescent lights, choose the “Tungsten” setting if are not using the flash.
    • If you are using the flash in low-light situations, change the white balance to “Flash”.
    • When there are multiple light sources each with different light sources, use a gray card and the custom white balance to hopefully get more accurate colours.
  • If you shoot in RAW mode, you can leave your camera on “Auto”, and then change the white balance in a software RAW converter on your computer.
  • Set the JPEG settings to the highest quality. Memory cards get cheaper over time, so if you don’t have enough space for the larger JPEGS, get a larger memory card.
  • Set the ISO to the lowest value, which will reduce the noise in your photos making them more clear. Under certain conditions, you may need to increase the ISO (see below).
  • If you digital camera has a viewfinder, use that to take pictures and turn off the LCD screen. This will conserve battery power as the LCD screen is one of the biggest battery power hogs in a digital camera.

Once you have made the necessary settings, you can now take the pictures.

Taking the Pictures

For sunny outdoor photos:

  • Avoid having your subjects face into the sun if you can to reduce squinting.
  • If the subject is wearing a hat, have them take it off for the picture. If not, and you get a dark shadow on their face from the hat; use your flash to brighten up the face. This is known as “fill flash”.
  • I find a polarizer helps reduce reflections, and increases contrast and colour in photographs taken on sunny days. A polarizer is a cover that is screwed in front of the lens.

For cloudy days:

  • Increase the ISO value of you camera to increase the shutter speed if the speed is slower than 1/30 of a second.
  • If you need to, use your flash to provide additional light to the scene.

For low-light conditions:

  • Use a tripod is always the recommended solution when shooting low-light photographs. If your camera is able to use a cable release, then use it to avoid camera shake. If not, simply set the timer on your camera, stand back and wait for the picture to be taken.
  • If you want to avoid using the flash, you can increase the ISO to see if you can get a fast enough shutter speed (1/30 or a second or faster).
  • Don’t use the zoom feature to get a larger aperture and a faster shutter speed. If you need to get closer, then walk towards the subject.
  • If you do need to use the flash, then ensure you aren’t more than ten feet way from the subject as that is the distance of most camera’s built-in flash. You also don’t want to get too close or the subject will become bright white from the flash.

Taking pictures of children can be a challenge to say the least. They are constantly moving and won’t sit still for very long for you to take a picture. My advice is, just let them be kids.

I find that the best pictures of children are the ones where they aren’t sitting still and posing for the camera. I like the natural look of photographs of kids at play. In situations like that, I usually get down to their level to get a more natural looking photograph. If they are sitting on the floor, then sit with them, or even lie down to get lower.

If a child is shy in front of the camera, play with them for a bit to get them to smile and have fun and they may not even you noticing you taking the pictures. The end result will be you getting natural looking pictures.

If they do approach the camera, for some fun I switch to macro mode and take pictures of them really close to the camera look at the lens. You will definitely get a good laugh at these types of photographs.

Summary

Taking a photograph with a digital camera can be tricky at times. I am not a professional photographer in any way shape or form, but I have learned a few tricks over the past couple of years that have helped me to become a better photographer. I am interested in any tips you may have to share to get better photographs.

12 Responses to “Tips on Taking Photographs with a Digital Camera”

  1. aile chat says:

    Thank administrator. detailed explanations and descriptions have been a useful site…

  2. Incandescent light bulbs will soon be phased out because they waste a lot of energy.,’*

  3. koncling says:

    nice tips
    by the way it’s work for phonecam..or just digital cam..?

  4. @taylor2nd:

    When people use more advanced tools and still don’t see any real improvement, it’s a phenomenon I like to call, “purifying the agony.”

    Now those boring snapshots are taken with a high performance camera. Yay.

  5. taylor2nd says:

    Besides its not the camera.. its the lens lol.

    But seriously Composition is the real thing.. You gotta have an imaginative eye to key in on good compositions for shots. An low res shot of a great composed scene will pass as a great shot over a horribly composed shot taken with a 10 or 12mp nikon d300.

  6. Paul says:

    I agree. Anyone can take great pictures with a cheap camera.

    Just keep practicing by taking pictures and you can take great pictures with any camera.

  7. @BaseGuardian: You can still do plenty with your cheapo-cam. A lot of what makes a photograph great has little or nothing to do with the equipment.

    I wrote a brief bit on things that cost $0 that will improve your photography:

    http://www.21stcenturydad.com/2008/01/29/improve-your-family-photos-21st-century-dad-style/#zero_cost

    People tell me all the time, “your camera takes great pictures.”

    Nobody tells me that my oven bakes great cookies.

    Nobody tells me my computer writes great comments on blogs.

    Don’t be silly! Cameras don’t take pictures. People do.

  8. BaseGuardian says:

    Thanks for the info, but my digital cam is a very cheap, I’m saving now to buy a good one. Thanks again for the tips, not very technical and easy to understand.

  9. Paul says:

    Thanks for the comments. The best method of getting better photographs is basically to take lots of pictures. The more pictures you take, the better you will get.

  10. hambo12 says:

    Great tips for the beginner photographer.

    I myself am just beginning and will take these tips into account next time I go for a play…

  11. Ozzie says:

    Thanks so much!
    These tips will be quite useful.

  12. lina says:

    great tips. I enjoy taking photos with my digital camera, but sometimes the photos don’t turn great even after few tries. I definitely will try your suggestions. 🙂

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