Digital Photography

A guide to the best shot

Digital photography is all around us. But what can you do to take the best picture? With all the settings, how do you know which ones you need?

It is actually easy, once you understand it. To start with, let's take a look at ISO. ISO is how your camera reacts to light.

An ISO of 100 is not as sensitive, or fast, as an ISO of 400. The higher the ISO, the faster it is. So why wouldn't you always use a higher ISO? The higher the ISO is, the lower the actual quality of the picture. But with a lower ISO and movement or low light, your photo will turn out either blurred or dark. Have you ever taken a picture and saw that the photos are slightly orange? This is caused by an ISO that is too low.

Another factor is white balance. Think of white balance as how your camera sees color. The incorrect white balance setting will result in a discolored photo. So, before taking your pictures, make sure to set your white balance accordingly. Some common settings are auto, cloudy, sunny, indoors, fluorescent lights and custom. Most of the time, your auto setting will work fine.

There are several steps you can take to create the best picture most of the time:

  • Set your correct ISO. Indoors or sports, use a higher ISO. If you are outdoors taking pictures of stationary objects, use ISO 100 or 200. If you are using a flash indoors, you can use a lower ISO.
  • Use the correct white balance. Try to get used to the custom white balance, if that option is available on your camera. You don't want Aunt Mary's teeth to look yellow because you forgot to set the proper white balance!
  • Hold your camera steady. If stationary objects are blurry, then you are moving while taking the picture. Remember, unplanned movement in photography is bad. An exception is sports photography, during which you may need to pan your camera. This will keep a moving subject clear.
  • Use a flash, even outdoors, if your subject is shaded. Commonly referred to as a fill flash, it is used to assist in pulling more detail from your subject. While you will not want to use a flash all the time, try it, experiment, and check your results. It isn't always acceptable, or beneficial, to use a flash as it can create hot spots or a white out, which is where no detail exists.
  • Get close. Do not rely on a digital zoom. Use your optical zoom. A digital zoom is an attempt, or a guess by your camera, to enhance the scene and bring it closer.
  • Take multiple pictures of the same scene until you learn how to use your settings. This will ensure you get your best picture.

Remember, these are just the basics. The best thing you can do is to practice taking pictures with different settings until you fully understand how to use your camera. You can also look into digital photography courses offered through local photography studios or the continuing education department of a nearby college or university.

By Robert M