Many of you have got digital cameras.
Given that almost every mobile phone now has a camera built into it, and also that everyone seems to have at least one digital compact camera in their household, I think there must be many more digital cameras in the UK now than there are people. That’s a very interesting statistic. It would be interesting to know how many of the people who have a digital camera have read the manual or been on a photographic training course…
The automatic focusing and exposure systems on newer cameras are simply extraordinary. They can identify faces, allow you to choose which person is the most important in a group, and then follow that person around the frame as they move. Some cameras even take two pictures in quick succession, compare them, and then tell you if the people in the pictures have blinked, thus giving you a chance to retake it. 10 years ago this would all have seemed like science fiction.
Despite all this marvellous technology there are still an awful lot of images out there that can be improved. The main problem I see has been around for ages; it’s camera shake. Camera shake gives you images that are not sharp, so you aren’t getting the benefit of all those shiny new pixels. Here’s an example that I took for this post:
So how can you stop camera shake? The best way is to support the camera firmly during the exposure, and use the shortest shutter speed you can. The trend for cameras to have a viewing screen on the back, and to not have an optical viewfinder hasn’t helped with supporting the camera. Using the screen on the back forces you to hold the camera away from your body and this increases the risk of camera shake. If you can, rest the camera on a wall, shelf, tree, or anything that will stop it from moving around as you take the picture. I’ve even used the roof of my car – with the engine turned off of course.
The second trend that increases the risk of camera shake is zooming the lens in order to get closer. The more you zoom the more risk of shake there is. If you can, it’s better to get closer to your subject by moving yourself and then using less zoom. In these examples the first image shows shake, as I was further away and zoomed the lens as much as it would go. Like the door and tiles image above, these two images were taken to deliberately to show how it can go wrong!
With this image I got closer to the flowers and used less zoom. As you can see, the result is much sharper.
Digital cameras make it much easier to practice, so give it a try!
Once you have mastered the art of taking pictures without camera shake, you can move on to using it in a creative way, as shown in the first image of this post, and also below.
I’ll be writing more tips on improving your photography in future, so do keep checking the blog, or subscribe so you don’t miss any.