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Three Essentials in Digital Photography: Follow Core Rules to Take Better Pictures

Digital photography has reduced the costs traditionally associated with photography. Film, batteries, and film and print development are things of the past. All anyone needs now to take and publish pictures are a digital camera and a computer.

Digital tools are an amazing asset, allowing photographic artists to quickly process their images in dramatic fashion. These same tools, however, can also be a detriment. People often rely on them to fix bad images rather than learning the reasons for the bad captures and ways to prevent them.

Three basic photography tips that can help improve digital captures are:

  1. Start with the Right Digital Camera – Make sure the digital camera has a manual (or “M”) setting. A top choice in cameras is a digital single-lens-reflex (SLR) camera. SLR allows the photographer to view subjects through the camera lens rather than on a view screen or through a window above the lens. Photographers have a purer view of the subject , which makes for precise composition. Cameras with view screens are a second choice, because the image on the screen is also through the camera’s lens.
  2. Composition – Composing a photograph means deciding what to include, and what to omit, within the frame of the photograph. More sky, or more grass? A headshot, or full-length portrait? Where to place emphasis can be a challenge. Many photography students (and artists as well) learn to compose based on the Rule of Thirds. By breaking the image down into thirds, both vertically and horizontally, photographers can use a grid to help them decide how to position elements in the photo. Look at famous photographs, portraits, and paintings to see how and where artists emphasize objects in their work.
  3. Exposure – Exposure is a combination of three elements, namely ISO (also known as ASA), shutter speed, and aperture. These three features are sometimes referred to as the Exposure Triangle. ISO stands for International Standards Operation, the group that set film speed standards. In digital cameras, ISO is the relative sensitivity of the camera’s sensor. The lower the ISO number, the more light is needed to properly expose a shot. Shutter speed controls how long the light from the subject is allowed to shine on the camera’s sensor. Aperture is a variable-sized opening that controls how much light is let through to the sensor for as long as the shutter is open.

Using the right digital camera, knowing how to compose a shot, and understanding how exposure elements interact can transform a basic snapshot into a quality photograph.

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