I’m sure the past holidays must have been a lot of fun with family and friends and I know how many of you kids may have had a point and shoot camera in your christmas list…other than a PUPPY, ofcourse!!
Most of you may even have gotten a point and shoot for a christmas gift cause it was easier for mommy and daddy to get you the point and shoot than a PUPPY! Yeah…”The real one!” ofcourse. I know, the camera was your second choice.
You must have even started to click at whatever came in front of you…as soon as you got the battery charged and a memory card in place. Trust me..I was no different even when I was big enough to be married and got my first decent point and shoot! Yeah..that was when I got my first decent camera..my very own one.
I’m sure all those pictures you clicked during the holidays, will become memories of a lifetime for you. I can so easily see you..running after your cute little cousin as she played with her toys, trying to capture some pictures of her..or of your parents sipping coffee with your aunt and uncle, as they talked early in the morning after you finished unpacking your gifts.
Then you would have immediately hit on the blue “display” button to check out your masterpiece. While some of them might have been nice, for most others, you might have wondered, why, it didn’t look like how you saw with your eyes. Some of the shots that you had taken were so crisp and clear while most may have been blurred, unclear or dark. WHY?! you might wonder…why these inconsistencies when you had clicked them all alike.
Well … there are a lot of things that need to come together, for the camera to record what you see. One of the most important, fundamental of them all is, Light! The word Photograph means “Writing with Light”. So, light forms the most important part of taking a photograph…next to the fact that you will need a camera to write it with, right?! I’m sure you know that..Silly me!
So, if there isn’t enough light for the camera to see, the camera will not be able to write an image that is clear enough. Or, was your subject…moving when you clicked?! Maybe that’s why the image was blurred out?!
There are a lot of simple steps you can take to make sure your images are crisp the next time you click. Let me list a few out to you. I am sure … with your curious minds and energy..you will venture out to find more stuff on your own. Assuming that you know how to operate your camera..I will start with
1. The first and most important that messes up most of our images is not holding your camera the right way. Hold you camera straight and steady. Sometimes we are so eager to take the next shot, that we don’t’ wait for the click to complete before we move to click the next subject. This could cause image blurs. Setting up the camera on a tripod will surely help you make clear shots by reducing blurs due to camera shakes and hand shakes. You may find it very restrictive but, hang on..Make sure to use the grid lines, you see on the camera screen or viewfinder, to straighten horizon lines..That way your landscape images are not tilted. Your horizontal and verticals will stay that way and not become diagonal.
2. Most blurs also happen during the act of pushing on the shutter release button rather violently. Make sure you tug you elbow into your body to stop that from happening. And while that is a preventive..we need to learn to click on the shutter release button, very softly so as not to cause the camera to move while clicking. If you are using a DSLR camera, then you have a viewfinder which when pressed against your forehead..helps in reducing camera shakes too. Another way, if you are not using a tripod, use your body as a tripod. Lean it against a pillar or something. It gives you greater stability, thereby, reducing hand shakes, and reducing blurs.
3. Make your scene as simple as possible by DE cluttering. In photography…most times, little is too much. If there are too much stuff in the scene you click..it may appear messy. So, make sure you focus on a particular point/object of interest..either by zooming in or getting closer to the object/subject. If a flower is your subject..make sure you have only your flower in view..If you cannot zoom in, then, get closer to your subject. That way the attention is on the flower and not on other stuff that may cause distraction. Here is a very nice article for you kids, to help you learn to look at your subject through the camera lens.
4. Hold your tiny camera right, please! Many times..you may have your finger or a unintended shadow show up in your picture because you let your finger hang along the front of the camera lens or flash. There are sensors and other holes on the front of the camera. If you block those, then either it may limit the lens’s ability to focus right or the flash light will be blocked. So, make sure you hold your camera with your index finger on the “shutter release” button, the thumb at the bottom and rest of the fingers away from the lens and other sensors. If you are using a DSLR camera..make sure you use your right hand to grip the camera, with the index finger on the “click” button, (the shutter release button), and your left hand should hold the lens from under the lens with your index finger and thumb. Make sure you lean your left elbow against your body while you hold that position as this will help you eliminate blurs due to hand shakes.
5. Before you click, you need to identify a point of interest in the picture you want to click. A photographer is an artist too. The only difference between a photographer and a painter is that the painter starts with the clean slate, while a photographer will look around and compose his picture such that it appears like art. This is possible only when you can identify and focus on what caught your attention when you decided to click a scene.
6. Read your camera manual thoroughly. Most point and shoots, or DSLRs, get very powerful, if you can use the various modes available to you to control your image. For eg., There are modes in the camera that let you control, where to focus, how much of the image is clear and what is blurred, or help you freeze action in the air. They are called “Aperture” and “Shutter Speed” modes. You can also control white balance and image quality in the menu.
7. Most cameras have a self timer mode. Its not there just to click your own picture but, helps in case you want to click tack sharp images. The clicking action sometimes could cause inadvertent vibration in the camera. To avoid this, sometimes photographers use the self-timer mode to delay the click so that they are not touching the camera when the click happens, thereby getting virtually no blue due to camera shake during the click.
8. Learn how to focus lock by depressing the shutter release button half way. Most DSLR’s have some thing called focus points. These are the points that are activated when you depress your shutter release button half way. Some cameras have 5-7 focus points while others can have 51 or even more. Every time you depress the shutter release button half way, a focus point is chosen by the camera, which is usually the point that is right in front. Some cameras are equipped with face recognition and focus on the face that is ahead of the others. It may take a few focus locks to get your focus on the right spot, on the right face, sometimes.. And when you get it right..continue to hold the shutter button half way down.. and recompose your frame, then click!
9. Practice, Practice and Practice is the only mantra to help understand all that you just read. It’s the only way that will teach you to hold your camera right and click right. The more you use your camera the more you will be able to explore it. In this digital age…its as easy as deleting an image you don’t like and try again to get it right.
10. Try clicking at your subject from various angles. You may notice what a difference it will make in how you notice things..Try to click from below and above, from far and near. Did you ever think of clicking at a flower from below it?! Try that..the next time you click at a flower and see the difference in your image. This is the way to get going with composing your scenes.
11. Although you will click at images that that you are interested in..make sure you don’t take 100 images of the flower you see around you and forget your family who came along to see the flower show with you. Or, you are just clicking at your little toddler cousin’s smiles and forget to click at the beautiful scenery around you, during your Vacation trip. That’s not going to help you make memories from the trip..Will it?!
12. Don’t forget to download your images that you want to preserve….to your computer. Very important to name and organize your folders in your computer rightly, otherwise, the next time you remember a picture you had taken a year ago but, don’t remember where you saved it, or how to retrieve it. Now…that wouldn’t help, would it?!!
This article was just to help you to get started off with exploring your camera and is just a tiny speck in what one can learn about photography. The modern cameras, it is a wonderful device that helps us make and preserve memories of good times we had with family and friends, and forget the bad. So why not learn to make those memories beautiful, such that you want to go back again and again to watch them..rather than just see them once and forget about it.