Taking pictures outside is a different ballgame than snapping shots indoors. Everything is different, from the lighting to the backgrounds. Here are some tips to help you take beautiful shots when outdoors.
- Digital cameras don’t like nature Pixels don’t treat all objects equally. One of the worst things to photograph with a digital camera is a tree. If your camera can capture a million pixels and your subject tree contains a few hundred thousand leaves, you’ll end up with only three or four pixels per leaf, and the whole image will smear together in a big, gummy mess.The same goes for lush lawns, bountiful gardens, distant mountains, hairy surfaces, and just about any other subject with scads of intricate details. For the best results, shoot only clearly defined subjects that have smooth, distinct outlines. People photograph well, as do cars, buildings, furniture, and most man-made objects. In short, stick to obvious foreground subjects that stand out sharply from their backgrounds.
- Get in close Do your photos look like they were taken from a satellite in space? This can happen if you don’t properly frame the picture. With a digital camera, the distance between the subject of the shot and the camera means you end up taking about 15 pixels in the center of the image. Because pixels are precious, it’s important to devote as many as possible to the picture’s subject. When photographing a person, for example, turn on the LCD and close in until his or her image fills the screen. Don’t take the shot until you see the whites of their eyes.
- Avoid the extremes Extreme temperatures can do a real number on your digital camera and its batteries. Don’t leave your equipment in direct sunlight for hours at a time. You can protect it by covering it with light-colored or reflective material. If you leave the camera in your car, make sure the sun won’t be moving into a position where it will cook your vehicle’s contents. In really cold weather, place your camera in a large, sealed plastic bag when you head outside. The temperature inside the bag will drop gradually, thus preventing a rapid climate change and the ill effects of condensation and frost on the inside of your equipment. Once your camera has cooled, pop it out of the bag and start shooting.
- View to a killer shot It’s usually best to shoot with the sun behind you to make sure your subject is well lit. The problem is that an LCD screen can be very hard to see in bright sunlight. So be sure to purchase a camera that also includes viewfinder; otherwise, you may end up shooting blindly. Another benefit of not relying heavily on the LCD screen: Longer battery life.
- Use the flash in back lit conditions In full daylight, use the built-in flash on your camera to fill in the shadows. When you photograph a person with back lighting present (a bright source of light behind the subject, such as the setting sun), the result is often just a dark silhouette against a blindingly bright background. The solution is to turn on the flash — a technique called fill-flashing. The flash illuminates the subject’s face and also helps reduce the brightness of the sky.
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