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Read Your User's Manual

Shoot it RAW

If you want to print or enlarge a picture, your manual will tell you how to maximize the quality by shooting at high resolution. Some photographers save their pictures in RAW mode, which records the most information from each shot and gives the photographer the most options for manipulating the image on a computer [source: Howell].

Reading the user's manual or guide may not seem like much of a technique. Most of us would rather run out and shoot pictures rather than wade through 150 pages of instructions. But reading about and understanding the features of your camera can make you a far better photographer.

To begin with, it will familiarize you with all those buttons, dials and menus. Most cameras today have a host of useful functions. You'll probably never use all of them, but many can be valuable for improving your picture taking:

  • Learning about aperture priority can help you to control the depth of field, bringing a large range into focus or blurring the background when you want to.
  • Changing the ISO setting can make your camera more sensitive to light, and it can also reduce picture quality.
  • Adjusting the white balance will yield better pictures when you're shooting in artificial or colored light.
  • Exposure bracketing means taking three pictures: one at the correct exposure, one underexposed and one overexposed. This technique is helpful in difficult lighting situations.

Remember that just reading the manual is not enough. You need to experiment with each of the features and see how they affect the pictures you take. But don't try to master the whole thing at once; read up on one feature and use it before moving on.

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