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Simple Tips for Taking Better Pictures
What's a Megapixel?
A pixel is a word formed by combining pix (pictures) with el (element) to denote the smallest identifiable part of an image. A megapixel is equal to one million pixels, used to define the number of pixels in an image and the display potential of cameras, screens, TVs, and so on.
Good Cameras Make Good Pictures
Taking pictures is a satisfying hobby, the results of which can be used to spice up your articles or even create a separate income stream. Whatever motivates you to piont and shoot, you want your photos to be as powerful and dynamic as possible. After all, the better your efforts are the first time round the more time you have to take even more pictures.
As technology advances in leaps and bounds, t's easier than ever to capture memorable scenes in high-quality color. Good cameras come in all shapes and sizes, available online and off, with features that take almost all of the hard work out of the equation. The secret is to select one that does what you want it to do, no matter how inexpensive it might be, and stick with it. You need to feel comfortable with the camera of your choice and confident it will do what you ask of it.
Regardless of how much you pay for your camera, you'll want to make sure you're using it to its full advantage. Here are a few tips that will help bring your snaps to life no matter what type of camera you own.
Buy the Best Camera You Can Afford
Although prices for cameras have come down in recent years, there are so many models on the market that it can be confusing. You want to get the best quality for your money, but you don't want to fork out for extras that will make little difference to the quality of your photos. Here's what you need to consider:
- Get Lots of Megapixels
Make sure any camera you buy has plenty of megapixels. In simple terms, the more megapixels the better. More megapixels means higher quality, so if you want to be able to enlarge your pictures and hang them in your living room - or the local art gallery - you need lots of megapixels. Even smartphone cameras these days have at least 5 megapixels, so that gives you some idea what to expect from a dedicated camera.
If you take pictures to sell online, the more megapixels the better. Some sites will specify maximum upload sizes (such as 5M or 2560 X 1920 pix), while others like HubPages merely limit the amount of pics you can upload at one time (20, for example).
- Look for Quality Camera Lenses
Again, get the best quality lens you can afford. There's no point having a 6-megapixel camera with a cheap lens in it.
As you'd expect, some cameras will include lenses made by the manufacturer. A Canon camera might come with one of Canon's own lenses; likewise with a Nikon. That makes it easier for you to know what you're getting. But it's not always the case, so be sure to ask when you buy.
- Keep Accessories to a Minimum
Depending on what you want to shoot, there's an almost limitless supply of camera accessories out there. But you don't need it all. In fact, simplicity is probably the key, at least in the first instance.
A zoom lens is ideal for shooting things you can't get close to, such as wildlife or distant landscapes. A tripod is essential for taking close-ups, portraits, or when you want to take a shot of something over a longer period of time than normal. A steady hand is not always possible, so take the hard work out of it and buy yourself a tripod. They're cheap and one of the bits of gear you'll use over and over again.
Cameras Need Light
Taking great pictures is all about capturing the light. That's why the most successful pictures are taken at dusk and dawn, when the natural light is at its best.
If you need to take a picture when the sun is high in the sky, even if it's just to remind yourself about a place you've visited, that's fine. But remember to go back to the spot if you can and take another picture either last thing at night or first thing in the morning. The difference it makes is worth the extra effort.
Another thing to remember is to use cloudy weather wisely. You might think an overcast sky would be lousy for taking pictures, but actually it's just the opposite. Just as the sun at noon is too bright for most pictures, these cloud formations help give the exact amount of light needed for clear, sharp pictures.
Also keep in mind that a cloudy sky isn't always much to look at. A far better use of your time is to take the picture on a cloudy day, but keep the sky out of the frame. That way you've got a good picture focused on the subject and not overwhelmed by all those different cloud colors and shapes.
Picture Takers' Poll
When do you take your best photos?
Cameras Love Eyes
They say the eyes are the windows of the soul. Whether or not that's true, they can certainly help you take better pictures.
When you take pictures of something with eyes in it, human or animal, always focus on the eyes. If the eyes are in focus, you'll get a great picture. If the eyes are out of focus, your picture will be ruined. It's one of those unwritten rules of good photography: it works, and that's really all you need to worry about.
There are lots of other tricks to taking good portraits, but this is one of the most important things to remember. Focus on the eyes and your shots will always turn out well.
What Megapixels Really Mean
Megapixel Camera Setting
Resulting Image Size in Pixels
Size when Saved to Computer
1280 x 960
1600 x 1200
2048 x 1536
2560 x 1920
3264 x 2448
4288 x 3216
A full-color how-to book with the best photo tips from professionals and amateurs and advice on how to use the latest technology.
Cameras Love Action
Ask yourself which of these two pictures would make a better shot:
- someone about to jump out of an airplane
- someone who's just jumped out of an airplane
Which do you think will produce the most satisfying result? If you guessed the second one, you're probably right. That's because actions speak louder than words. A pic of you or your friend about to jump isn't as exciting as a shot when the jump is in progress.
Here's another example...
One picture shows a dog standing next to a Frisbee: another shows the same dog leaping into the air and catching the Frisbee in its mouth. But which is better?
Action tells a story all on its own. Seeing the dog jump and catch the Frisbee is exciting. It's interesting and demonstrates what's going on. Words are not necessary, because the picture tells us what we need to know.
The picture with the dog standing next to the Frisbee, on the other hand, is static, stagnant, and uninteresting. There's nothing happening, even if it's just about to happen. The moment of excitement hasn't been captured.
Most digital cameras these days have automatic focus and settings to make picture-taking as easy as possible. Often these include a sports or action setting, so you can take pictures of moving things with confidence, knowing that blurring or distortion won't be a problem.
Another way to think of action is to think of "something going on" -- but it doesn't have to be anything dazzling or spectacular. For example, I took a picture of the clock on my mantelpiece (above). Dull, I think you'll agree. But then I took a pic of the same clock at an angle with the reflection of nearby windows (below). Suddenly, it's a lot more intriguing.