The Secret of Taking Better Pictures with a Point & Shoot or even your phone
OK, so you don’t want the complications of a digital SLR camera but, you sure would like better pictures with the compact digital camera you bought. Better pictures with a point & shoot can be easy & fun.
The compact cameras they make today have many of the same features as the larger cameras but you don’t want to learn all that – not YET anyway. So let’s start with simply getting good pictures with your point & shoot or phone.
But before we do that there is one VERY important thing you need to do – every camera comes with either a wrist strap or a shoulder strap and I do mean every camera. That is how important your strap is. Let me explain why – some years ago, when I was still shooting with a 35mm camera, I went to a conference in St. Louis. Since I was going to be busy with the conference, I only took my little Olympus digital with me and did some of the usual tourist things, it is a beautiful city. One evening we were going to a baseball game & the conference leader was going to throw the first pitch. As I was taking the camera out of my pocketbook, before I got a chance to put my strap on my wrist, someone went by and bumped my arm. The camera dropped to the cement – end of camera and end of taking pictures. From then on, I put the strap on my wrist before I take it out of a bag or pocket – lesson learned! So your First Step put on your strap.
The only two controls we will talk about, right now, are the shutter button and the zoom control. Is that about where you want to go for now? Good! Then let’s talk about what makes up a decent picture that you will be proud to show your friends and email to out of state family.
COMPOSITION OF YOUR PICTURE
First: Decide what you are taking a picture of. Let’s say you want a picture of a friend or two and you want to make sure you don’t cut anyone’s head off. (It is a lot easier to recognize them if they still have their heads) Now, do you have an LCD display screen and a viewfinder or just an LCD screen? Some cameras have both.
(This is a small older model that stays in my car side pocket)
I prefer a viewfinder (force of habit & personal preference) Both are good. Using the LCD monitor uses up battery power faster. The other thing is if you are taking pictures outside, it is sometimes hard to see the LCD in the sun.
Second: Be familiar with the location of your shutter button. Some cameras have it too close to the on/off button so it is easy to press the wrong one.
Third: OK so you are looking at your friends either through the viewfinder or in the LCD screen. If they look so far away that their features are not clear, zoom in a little closer.
( Check your camera manual for the location of your zoom control) On this camera, if you touch the top of the main circle it zooms in and the bottom to zoom out. One clue that is often on your camera is a picture of a single tree meaning telephoto (close) or multiple trees meaning wide angle(further away) But all you need to know for now is – are they close enough in your screen to see them clearly. You can also control this by simply moving closer or further away.
Fourth: This is the part that takes practice – developing the “eye of a photographer”. Luckily, with digital photography, you can take as many pictures as you want. It doesn’t cost any more to take 100 pictures than it does to take one. One of the primary rules of Composition for Photography, is the Rule of Thirds. In other words, you don’t want your subject to be smack dab in the middle of the picture. It makes a much more interesting picture & allows some background scenery.
Examples of the Rule: Imagine a grid that divides your screen into thirds both lengthwise and width-wise. (There is actually a control that will do that in your screen/viewfinder) but as I mentioned before – we are only dealing with the two controls at this point. That can be discussed at another time. On the grid, you want your subject approximately on one of the downward grid lines You can do it from the right or from the left. If you were photographing birds or scenes, you may choose one of the horizontal lines.
As you can see from these two pictures, the subject is positioned according to the Rule of Thirds. If your subject is facing to the left or right, have the background in front of them as shown here.
Fifth: While developing your eye, be cognizant of what is in the background. For example you don’t want to place your subject in such a way that they have a telephone pole or a strange plant growing out of the top of their head. Sometimes it is easier for you to move and change the perspective than it is to move your subject. There is a very funny Ellen Degeneris episode where an elderly woman calls in to complain about the pointy plant that always shows behind Ellen’s head. Check it out here (very funny) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGZccD6A_KQ
Well that is enough to start with. Go take some pictures, if you don’t like them, learn from them and then delete them. The main thing is – Have some FUN!
If you want to gradually learn more about your camera, I’ll talk about other things you can do. There are times you need a Professional Photographer but there are plenty of times with family and friends where YOU are the one capturing the moment. If you want to learn more about camera features or lighting your subjects, come back and bring your friends. I’ll be setting up a page for you to show a couple of pictures showing the Rule of Thirds. Just mention in the form below that you want to subscribe to this post. (you can unsubscribe at any time) Once the page for your pictures is set up, I’ll send you the link to share with your friends.
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