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10 tips to shoot better with your digital camera

By Charles Hopkins Published 07/6/2006 | Arts and Culture

A digital camera is not hard to use; anyone, with some guidance, can learn to use it. However, to get great photographs you need to know a little more. Here are 10 shooting tips to get you started:

You need to visualize and compose a picture before you shoot. Think about the main elements of your picture and try to eliminate things that are not central to your composition. Hold the camera level by aligning it with natural horizontal lines, like the horizon

Control the flash on your camera to take better pictures. Don't put it on automatic and let the camera decide when it will work. You can use fill-in flash to light up a subject located in the shade of a tree. This may produce better results than positioning the subject in direct sunlight.

You can get a small tripod and use it to take steadier and sharper photos. You don't need to get a bulky and heavy tripod. You can get a small and lightweight model that you can carry in your back pocket.

You can control the white balance of your digital camera to get a better effect in your photos. Leaving it on auto may get you an image that is "cool". You can get warmer tones by setting the white balance to cloudy while shooting outdoors.

Use the self-timer to get into the picture yourself. Place the digital camera on a tripod or on a stable surface. Ensure that it is focused on the subject and not on the background. A self-timer can also be used to take photos with a slow shutter speed, when the camera is on a tripod. This can help you to avoid camera shake and provide sharper photos.

Macro mode can be used to take close-up photographs of everyday objects. This allows you to view these objects from a totally new perspective. Get as close to the object as your camera allows. If you press the shutter button half way, the camera will focus on the object. Press the shutter release all the way only when the confirmation light comes on.

If you are using manual control, try to get the right exposure. Overexposure will cause the picture to lose detail and there will also be a loss of color. Underexposure can cause the colors to get darkened and it may not be possible to restore them later on the computer. Try to get an accurate exposure so that you are able to use the entire tonal range of your digital camera's sensor.

Shoot at maximum resolution that is possible on your digital camera. You never know when you might want to make an enlargement of a treasured photo. If you have a digital camera with a certain resolution you may as well use it.

High resolution images may use up more space in your memory card, so you may like to get a memory card with a higher capacity, or get a spare memory card. You don't want to run out of space when you are on a shoot.

Use a slow shutter speed to capture the effects of moving water in streams and waterfalls. Fix the camera on the tripod, set a slow shutter speed and frame the photo. Use the self-timer to trigger the shutter to avoid camera shake. You can get very professional looking images of moving water like this.