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Use & Tips


and Links

Digital Photography Course

Click here for printable version

Considerations -- Resolution vs compression     jpeg (basic, normal, best) or raw

How will it be used -- Ebay     photo on wall     image quality vs # of photos

Format card to prevent corrupted photos and set number sequence

Menu for shooting-- Camera sensitivity or ISO – lower is better (less noise), but for greater flash distance or rapid movement then higher is better.

White balance use auto unless there is more than one type of light. Hold white paper next to the subject and use custom white balance.

Focus     Exposure Compensation     Bracketing

Anti-shake – turn it off if you use a tripod

Menu for playback--Histogram should go all the way from left black to right white.

Use gray card for middle values esp. snow or dark scene.

Important trip take 2 cameras and practice with a new camera before traveling

Camera—keep the lens covered—store camera without batteries—clean lens with a clean microfiber cloth (from a plastic bag) or use air without solvents. Do not use eyeglass cleaner! In rain or snow cover the camera with a plastic bag. If the camera gets wet remove the batteries and card and leave it open to dry out. Cold to warm temperature may cause fogging so bag the camera before going into a warm place and let it warm up slowly.

Always have extra batteries in a plastic bag. NiMH or nickel metal hydride batteries work well. Keep at room or your body temperature.

Use the viewfinder instead of LCD to save the batteries, except when doing close ups. Using the grid (from menu) lines in the viewfinder for straight horizons and to prevent cut off heads.

Screen will probably show battery level and need for a flash.

I for information or DISP for display—hit several times to get different information—monitor brightness

WYSIWYG or What You See Is What You Get---not so--check picture on screen

Shooting—Keep elbows in or stabilize against a solid object. Shutter release ½ way down to lock focus. Use a monopod or tripod when shooting at speeds below lens length if you are not using image stabilization. Horizon should be level. Breathe out and take the photo or use a self-timer. Change ISO.

1.      Look around the scene for trash, poles, etc.  Find the best angle and height.
2.      Leave a little extra space around subject when shooting--one step back.
3.      Weather, time of day and angle of the light.  Sunset look forward and back.  
4.      Angle of the light.  People--portrait style, reflectors.  Watch background.
5.      People in shadow.  Fill flash or handkerchief over flash.
6.      Sun on the lens --  block with hand or hat.
7.      Close up and distortion.  
8.      Highlights and shadows.  Might have to combine 2 or more pictures.  
9.      Panorama
10.    Panning -- High speed and/or blur.  Angle.  1/60 sec.  Swing using hips not arms.
11.    Rule of Thirds, Diagonal Rule, Golden mean, S shape, spiral.  Avoiding mergers.
Composition examples          More composition examples

Link to Composition           Link to Composition rules           Composition and more

Picture Symbols

1.      Auto. Start with this setting.  Red means exposure beyond the camera’s ability
2.      Portrait (head and shoulders) - makes a fuzzy background.  Use a slight telephoto.  
         Vertical. 12’
3.      Sports or Action (runner) continuous auto focus
4.      Landscape (mountains) everything is in focus
5.      Sunset (half circle with dashes above) warming effect.  Read camera manual 
         about having the sun in the picture.
6.      Night (star) use a tripod or picture will be blurry since the shutter stays open 
         for a few seconds after a flash is used to capture the foreground.  Self timer.
7.      AV for aperture value – high number for everything in focus (landscape); 
         low value creates blur around the sharp object (portrait)
8.      TV (time value) or S for Shutter priority or Speed—waterfalls
9.      Movie Mode (movie camera) lets your record MPEG’s good enough for email
10.    Close up or Macro mode (tulip) – for close focus
11.    M for Manual—you set the speed, aperture, ISO… using the buttons in the circle.  
         P or program camera sets the speed and aperture which you can modify.
12.    Trash can-to delete photos
13.    Lock (key) so photos cannot be deleted
14.    Information (I) – histogram, speed, aperture
15.   Exposure compensation (+/-) for high contrast scenes
16.  (triangle pointing right in a rectangle)  switches from recording to playback
Exposure Compensation in Program, Aperture, and S modes. It is used to lighten (+) or darken (-) the image. This may become the default. Used for very bright or dark situations.

Snow requires lowering the speed and/or lowering the aperture number (f-stop) by a factor of two.

Shutter release—go half way down for focus lock and then move the camera.

Stabilization – turn off when panning and use TV (S) shutter priority.

You go from wide angle (w) to telephoto (t)—optical and then digital zoom. Instead of digital zoom use a computer after the picture is taken.

Focus—diopter adjustment if you wear glasses

  1. AF or auto focus so the shutter release pushed half way is not needed. Center weighted. AF uses infrared light or sound and may delay the shot.
  2. ESP or Multi-segment; Matrix
  3. Spot—small area to calculate exposure that is not influenced by a bright object or dark area nearby.
  4. Special situations—animals behind bars, subject near a bright object—2+ shots to be combined later. Subject blends into dark background or night, sunset halos.
Close up (Macro) tulip and Super Macro with fixed focus
  1. Use camera back for viewing.
  2. Tripod with anti-shake off. Use the self timer.
  3. Small aperture for depth of field or switch to telephoto
Flash (lightning arrow)
  1. Automatic—for low light and backlit conditions
  2. Red Eye (eyeball)—preburst
  3. Fill (lightning arrow) for daylight shadows and pictures of people in direct sunlight reduce harsh shadows. Groom in front. Use a handkerchief.
  4. Slow Sync (lightning arrow and SLOW) for dark locations to get detail—use a tripod and people don’t move immediately after the shot.
  5. ask before using a flash in museums.
  6. Accessory flash may cut off Red Eye function since the angle prevents red eye.
Drive Modes
  1. Single frame advance
  2. Self-timer (circle with clock hand inside)—excellent to reduce camera shake for still life, landscapes and close up pictures. Also lets you get in the picture.
  3. Continuous advance (3 empty rectangles) as long as the button is held down. Number of images is based on camera writing speed and file size. Starts with the shutter being pressed. Rate in fps (frames per second).
  4. Bracketing (3 rectangles empty and shaded) —usually 3 different exposures—shooting a streambed. 1 EV or exposure value gives twice the amount of light than the calculated value.
  5. Panorama—links pictures together with camera software. Overlap pictures 1/3 and use the manual settings.
Delete images
  1. Individual--trashcan
  2. all—via menu or use the computer
Save images to computer by
  1. camera program software
  2. software to organize your photos on your hard drive
  3. My Computer—copy and paste where you want it
Right click on the picture to see properties of size and date.

To buy or learn about how to use a digital camera

for more about camera use.

Good discussion of composition.

for photo critiques; some good, some not.

Photo hosting and Scrapbooks – set up a separate email address

  1. Imageshack
  2. Kodak
  3. Snapfish
  4. Imagestation
  5. Shutterfly
  6. Webshots
  7. Fotolog
  8. Picasaweb
Back up images and keep them off site in case of fire or a computer virus.

Printing—kiosk and drug store (RGB), your computer (paper) + ink with a drying time of 24 hours. Glossy for shiny things, luster or semi-gloss, matt.

Programs: Picasa (free), Photoshop Elements (<$80); Corel Paint Shop Pro X

Care of prints


           Appeal or "Wow" factor
Things to do:
  1. Make a greeting card

  2. Shoot a series of pictures of moving objects at different speeds

  3. Create a photo essay of your neighborhood or town

  4. Do a close up of insects, flowers, mechanical parts

  5. Make a collage or montage

  6. Design a slide show

  7. Email photos to family and friends.

  8. Brochure or newsletter

  9. Family tree of photos

  10. Make nature trail ID cards to help people identify flora and fauna

  11. Blur a photo with speed or screen or plastic wrap. Blur just part of the photo using depth of field

  12. Night photo, Silhouette

  13. Beach / snow scene (+1) or performance in a dark space with illuminated person (-1). Use (+2 or –2) for high contrast. Exposure compensation. Fireworks at night 1/30 second.

  14. Sea smoke or fog

  15. Candid and set photos. Camera at person's chest height.

Modified November 2010 by Donn           general techniques
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