Improving Your Digital Photography
Let's start by saying that when it comes to digital photography bigger is not always better.
Most cameras with a pixel count of 2-3 are good enough for most online applications and regular size prints and 8 mega-pixels is more than enough for most professional applications.
The main components that should be considered are sensor size and the ability of interchanging lenses.
Apart from these two crucial elements, these are some of the most important things to consider;
Use your camera's highest quality setting and try using the RAW format since it retains 100% of the scene's informational elements while a JPEG is half of RAW.
Try to use your camera's bracketing setting. Since you will take one underexposed shot, one at the recommend setting and one slightly overexposed, depending on the light conditions at least one of these shots will be the best.
Use and become familiar with the ISO settings for low light conditions; ISO makes your camera's light sensitivity greater and may allow you to use a faster shutter speed.
If shooting rapidly changing scenes then set your gear for rapid succession instead of static. Focus on the part of the scene that you absolutely need to be in sharp focus and leave the rest to the camera. This is done by changing the setting to servo. This allows the camera to continually change and adjust its focusing mechanisms.
For cameras with multiple focusing screens it is better to choose the central or spot. This will ensure that whatever part of the scene is the one that you're focusing on will be sharp and crisp.
If the light conditions such as when the subject is in the shadows do not let you focus well, then choose another part near the main point of interest and that is the same distance from you as the subject, focus on it and lock the controls then point at the subject and take the photograph.
Learn to use the manual focusing control, the aperture priority and the shutter speed priority. Learning how these function will grant you more creative control over the finished product.
If the light conditions are somewhat tricky, then focus and take a reading from the part that you want properly exposed, lock the control and take the shot. If in doubt underexpose. Underexposing tends to make colors richer, especially colors that fall on the pale side.
If using the zoom at its longest reach be extra careful to brace your camera since a long focal length increases the chances of capturing movement even when you press the shutter.
If photographing people, especially in a crowd, it is better to move in closer or zoom in to make some subjects distinguishable as opposed to just showing a mass of indistinguishable people.
Fill the frame with your subject(s), this keeps the eyes moving through the entire scene. If photographing subjects that have similar color schemes frame them to keep them separate otherwise they can become confused or lost within the composition.
For landscapes it is better to keep the horizon close to the bottom of the frame as this gives the viewers a sense of openness.
If you will be focusing on a distant subject try to include any element that is near to you and include it in the scene. It gives the viewer more information about "depth".
For moments when the action is about to occur try to anticipate it and take shots prior to, the start of, during and after. This is bound to give images that record the moment the action occurs.
For scenes with many different colors, concentrate on the main one and compose the shot for it. Keep in mind that colors are usually the key to create mood so choose your primary colors accordingly.
Overexposing and image will render light areas brighter than normal and underexposing will render dark areas darker than normal.
For skin tones the most important part of the scene is that they are shown as true to nature as possible. If the skin tone is out of balance or seems unnatural this can actually ruin the rest of the composition.
To eliminate distractions from the scene it is better to use the cloning tool but do so sparingly as large cloned areas will tend to look out of place when compared to the rest of the scene.
Avoid cropping too much in post production since any cropping reduces the amount of "information" and as you increase the size of the photograph this becomes more apparent. This is not so if cropping with the lens which is a preferable method of cropping if you should need to.
For silhouettes take several shots with different profiles. This will give you a better choice of photographs from which to choose the best one for the desired effect.
For informal children's shots get the child used to you by taking several shots until the child gets used to the sound of the camera and your presence. When the child seems accustomed to you and probably ignores the fact that you are there, then proceed to take the shots that matter.
For informal portraits aim to capture the personality of the subjects; what they do, what they like, emotions especially on the face and eyes.
For family group pictures there are several factors to take into consideration; choose the right clothing. It does not help is some are formally dressed then some others are wearing jeans and flip flops. Also pay attention to the location and re-arrange if necessary to get the best angle and light.
For large formal gatherings such as the office party, choose small groups and photograph one group at a time.
For tasteful nudes, avoid cluttered backdrops and introduce props one a time if at all. Crop with the lens, take some shots in monochrome. Insinuating nudity is often better than full nudity.
For plants and most nature shots depth of field is probably the most important element. It is better to isolate your subject than to try to include lots of scenery as this can become a distraction. Use a zoom for skittish or dangerous subjects. Shoot at the subject's eye level when possible. If able, study the subject for a few moments to anticipate reactions.
Record images that present the different seasons, specifically if your region offers foliage change and weather phenomena such as snow.
Scenes that have moving water can offer the photographer the possibility of showing the motion of the water with an almost "ghostly" effect. To do this use a slower than normal shutter speed but not so slow that it makes the rest of the scene overexposed. This is useful if you want to create a mood.
Above all, never stop shooting and take your gear everywhere. Some of the best shots ever captured were as a result of the photographers being at the right spot at the right time and having the camera ready.
Some more digital photography techniques
Professional Digital Tips
© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez
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