Digital Cameras 101: How to Take Pictures Like the Pros

Digital cameras may seem complicated but these easy tips will have you taking pictures like a pro in no time.

Digital cameras may seem complicated but these easy tips will have you taking pictures like a pro in no time.

1. Your flash is completely useless if your subject is more than eight feet away. Don’t bother using it unless you’re shooting a close-up shot.

2. If you accidentally erase photos from your memory card, you can still retrieve them as long as you haven’t used the card since. Search the Internet for “memory card recovery” to find and download recovery programs.

3. Take more artistic pictures by avoiding putting the subject in the center of the frame. You’ll get the most interesting photos when your subject isn’t centered, but is positioned off-center, to the left, right, up, or down.

4. When you’re using a smartphone camera, it won’t take a photograph until you lift your finger off of the shutter button. So rather than giving it a fast tap, place your finger on the button and wait until you have the photo framed just right, and then release.

5. Experiment with contrast. If you are shooting outdoors at noon on a bright, clear day, normal contrast may make your images appear terrible. See if toning down the contrast will soften the shadows and eliminate hot spots. If the light is weak, you may be able to improve the image by adding contrast.

6. Turn off auto focus. While auto focus is useful, if you always let your camera select the focus you could be missing out on some great images. Maybe you’d like part of your subject to be out of focus. It’s an artistic decision and your camera cannot make that decision for you. So try using manual focus when you can.

7. Defrost your images. The default white balance setting for digital cameras is auto, which is fine for most snapshots, but tends to be a bit on the cool side. So when shooting outdoor portraits and sunny landscapes, try changing your white balance setting from auto to cloudy. This is like putting a mild warming filter on your camera that increases the reds and yellows, creating richer, warmer photographs.

8. You don’t need a tripod to hold your camera steady; supporting it against a fence, wall, or tree will help you avoid camera trembling, and a beanbag (or just a bag of rice) can also give you a more stable shooting platform.

Sources: The New York Times,,,,,

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest