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Great digital photos begin with the basics
Fall is my favorite time of year. There is a cool breeze in the air that makes yard work bearable, and the beautiful fall colors start to appear in nature. The rich backdrop of red, yellow and orange makes fall the perfect time of year to get outside for family photographs.
Digital cameras make taking pictures a breeze. Thanks to our memory cards, we often depend on taking multiple shots rather than plan on taking a great shot the first time.
Lighting plays an important role in the outcome of photographs. The best time to take pictures is on a cloudy or overcast day. Of course, we cannot control the weather. If you are taking pictures on a sunny day when colors are most vibrant, consider moving your subject into the shade. If you must shoot in full sunlight, maneuver so that the sun is behind you and shining on the subject.
Pay attention to background lighting. If you are taking a photo inside, daytime backlighting from windows tends to make subjects look darker. Much like mirrors, windows can reflect flashes at night and reduce the quality of the picture. Adjust your subject or yourself to avoid photographing someone in front of a window.
Make sure the camera is on the indoor setting, which will turn on the flash and reduce the chance of red-eye. Red-eye is caused when the subjects’ eyes dilate in low lighting. The flash on the camera illuminates the blood vessels in the back of the eye, giving the red appearance. It helps to have subjects look slightly away from the camera lens.
Other factors that can influence the quality of your shot include clothing, arrangement and theme. When deciding on clothing for the family photo shoot, choose complementary colors, not matching colors. Also, solids work better than prints. When outside, consider wearing bright colors such as yellow, orange or red. Or reverse the look by wearing a white top and blue jeans in the midst of a pile of orange pumpkins or fall leaves. Remember to wear colors that complement your coloring and your surroundings.
Traditional family photos are taken with the camera lens at eye level with the tallest person in the photo. When taking pictures of small children, make sure that you are eye-level with them, even if that means you have to get on the ground. Young children are not likely to sit perfectly still, so try using the action settings on the camera if any are available. Consider adding well-behaved pets for candid shots of children who have trouble cooperating for a traditional picture.
Creative or nontraditional arrangements are fun for candid family photos. By using scale, depth and angles, you can create more interesting photos. You can show scale by photographing a baby on its back with a parent leaning over the child, face to face. You can create depth by placing one child slightly behind the other or having a child lean out from behind a tree.
Create angles by taking pictures with the camera below the subjects or standing on top of a chair looking down at the subjects. Be careful of photos of people taken from below; they may create unflattering double chins.
Keep your hand steady when shooting pictures to avoid blurry images. Even autofocus cameras need time to adjust to your subject. If you press the shutter button halfway down, the camera will automatically focus. Usually a small camera icon or green box will appear to let you know the camera is ready to take the photo. Once the icon appears on the display screen, press the shutter button down all the way to take the picture.
When taking digital photos, make sure the resolution on the camera is set to high, or large, depending on your camera. This usually means that the camera will take the picture at a higher resolution, creating a clearer and more detailed image. Higher resolution images take up more space on the memory card. While higher resolutions reduce the number of pictures that can be stored on the card, the result is worth it when using the photos for scrapbooks, quilts and movies.