By Pamela MacNaughtan
These days, amateur vacation photographs can be near-pro quality. Digital cameras make auto corrections instantly, we can take a multitude of photos and instantly delete the duds and anyone has the ability to manipulate or enhance photos with imaging software.
Still, sometimes you need an effect instantly—and not all of us want to spend hours in front of a computer editing photos. Here are seven easy tricks for getting better, more creative photos while you’re shooting them.
1. Polarize: Lets face it, sometime Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. If you want to darken the sky a little, or add a little saturation, simply take your sunglasses and hold the lens as close to your camera lens as possible and snap away. This is a great trick for point-and-shoot cameras or for anyone who doesn’t own a polarizing filter.
2. Avoid unwanted silhouettes: You’ve seen it before: a bright background, with people darkened. This is a frustrating problem on sunny days. To fix it, stand with the sun behind you and turn on the camera flash. The flash will work as a fill and lighten the people in the photo. This can be done even if you’re 15 feet away. Try a few frames to get a feel for it.
3. Get sharper images, faster: Snapping photos while you’re on the move can be a challenge. To create sharper images, use your camera’s “sports” setting, or set your ISO to 400 or higher.
4. Soften your photo: A soft or blurred effect can give a photo a romantic or ethereal look. To achieve a soft, fogged effect, hold your camera to your mouth and use your breath to fog the lens, then point and shoot! Try a few frames to give your photo the desired look.
5. Use the rule of thirds: An oldie but a goody: Mentally divide your frame into two horizontal and two vertical, equally spaced lines (so your frame has nine squares). Line up your subject and other points of interest along the lines or at intersections. Generally, this makes for more interesting composition than putting the subject at the centre.
6. Battle low light: Low light is one of the hardest elements to work with. If you’re indoors, use lamps to shine light from two (or three) different angles behind you—just be sure they’re the same type of bulb or the colour will be off. Outdoors, use whatever you have around you to work as a tripod (a rock, a railing, etc.) and set your camera to a high speed (ISO) and long exposure. If all else fails…
7. Resort to flash: For shots of people, flash might be palatable, and in any case, at night it may be necessary. If you have a flash that swivels, use it! Bounce the flash off a wall, a ceiling, a white piece of paper or even someone’s white t-shirt and onto your subject to avoid a washed-out image or the dreaded red-eye. If you don’t have a swivel flash, carry a small piece of paper (like a Post-It note) that can be held under the flash to create a bit of bounce. In daylight, flash can actually be used when there’s too much light (see #2, above).