Get Better Shots: 5 Simple Things You Can Do

get the camera out of default
turn on grid (or make an overlay)
take more than one shot
edit what you show
share your photos

People have told me over the years that they really like the photos that I shoot. I’m going to blame this on the rules of thirds: that is part of this comes from practice, part comes from editing, and the last part comes from the camera itself. the camera will help you take better pictures. but it’s not obvious that it can.

one of the first things you learn in photography class is something called “rule of thirds”. this “rule” defines where put your subject on the frame. most cameras have a “grid” that you can turn on. this gives you a way to easily see the thirds. grids also help you find center more easily. and you can use the lines for alignment to make sure things aren’t crooked. if you camera doesn’t have a grid or overlay you can easily make a grid using transparency in a printer. this allows you make other girds that will work with any camera. here are some grids that you can resize and print for your camera.

one thing that it every camera’s problem is the default mode. it takes ghastly pictures. getting the camera out of default will greatly improve the images that you take. there are two settings that are a must:turn off the flash and change the exposure mode. the goal is to get images that look more like natural light. there is a time and a place for flash. some situations are greatly improved using one. however, flash on should not be a normal setting.

I have never said, “I wish I took less pictures while I was there.” there aren’t a lot of reasons to be stingy on shooting with digital. you have lots of room on the card and there isn’t a financial downside to taking more as there is no per cost shot. having more than on picture means you have choices later. if somebody was moving or had their eyes closed it’s easy enough to composite two okay pictures to make one great shot. take lots of pictures and don’t delete “the bad ones” until you get home.

I have memories of having to sit through the vacation slide show where every single photo taken got cast onto a screen. it makes for a very long evening. there isn’t a reason in the world to show every single shot you took. in fact showing everything goes against you. better to not show your mistakes and bad photos. if I had 100 photos I try to narrow those into a set of 25. this can be a very hard task but it’s essential. next choose 10 of the very best photos that will tell your story. this might mean using a shot that you don’t consider “best” but helps round the series. you can always show more photos later.

the very worst thing you can do is to leave your photos in your camera or phone. they won’t do much good there if that’s your only copy. but worse is you can’t easily share. it’s very easy to make prints. there are snazzy photo printers and just about every other printer can use small 4×6 paper. if printing is not your thing use a service like Target, SnapFish, Walmart, Walgreens or the service found in iPhoto.

sometimes printing photos isn’t appropriate but it’s still a good idea to put them someplace where people around you can see them. you have a wide choice of services like Flickr, Mobile Me, Kodak Easyshare and Smug Mug among a sea of hundreds. the bonus of using a service is that your photos are automatically backed up for you.

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3 Replies

  • I like the 5 points. I would add to zoom in, with either your lens or, preferably, your feet. Too often there’s too much background which can be distracting.

  • Oh, and one more thing, especially if you have kids or shorter people in your life or people that like to sit: Get down to their eye level. It’s so much nicer viewing a photo where the person or people are “camera level”.

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