Digital 201: Photography Skills

Add valuable intermediate techniques to your shooting repertoire.

Exposure refers to the amount of light let into the camera, and for how long. All digitals have good automatic exposure systems, but you'll want to override them occasionally.

When this happens:

Blue skies go white and lose detail

Do this:

Dial down exposure compensation until the image looks right; start at -1, then -2, and so on.

When this happens:

Shadows go black and lose detail

Do this:

Adjust flash power to 1/2, 1/4, or less to throw light into the shadows, a technique called "fill flash." This allows you to set your exposure for bright sky or snow without turning other areas black.

When this happens:

The picture looks dark and drab

Do this:

Dial up exposure compensation-to increasing plus values.

White balance is your color control. Cameras expect light to be a mix of colors (which it is), but when they guess wrong, your images appear off. Here are three times you'll want to go manual.

When this happens:

The scene is too red

Do this:

Try the next highest white balance setting

When this happens:

The scene is too blue

Do this:

Try the next lowest setting

When this happens:

The scene is lit by different light sources (e.g. daylight and flashlight)

Do this:

Try a custom setting

Focus refers to the sharpness of objects in your final photo. Use these tricks to improve your results.

When this happens:

Focus is too slow for moving subjects

Do this:

Hold the shutter release part of the way down prior to pressing it fully.

When this happens:

Not enough of the scene is in focus

Do this:

Switch to the Landscape mode or go manual and use a smaller aperture (f/8 instead of f/2.8, for example)

When this happens:

Your photos are just a little fuzzy

Do this:

Change the Sharpening setting to a higher value.