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10 Tips for Taking Better Point-and-Shoot Pictures

©istockphoto/hadynyah

©istockphoto/hadynyah

In some situations, large digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras are just too bulky to be practical. Digital point-and-shoot cameras are small, affordable alternatives, and many have added durability features including being waterproof to 10 feet. Before you ditch your DSLR in favor of your high-resolution cell phone camera, consider that smartphones are much more expensive and fragile than moderately priced point-and-shoot cameras. It may not make sense to risk using your smartphone as a camera, and you may want more functionality than your smartphone camera has to offer.

Having a smaller camera can make vacation packing easy, and today there’s no reason you have to sacrifice photo quality for portability. If you’d like to take professional quality photos with lugging around a DSLR or risking your expensive smart phone, here are 10 tips for taking professional-quality vacation photos with your point-and-shoot:

Compose by Rule of Thirds
Mentally divide your display screen into thirds and put a subject in each third of the picture. Or if your camera’s fa ncy enough, it might have a setting to put one over your screen for you.

Or Divide and Off-Center
If thirds don’t make sense for what you’re shooting, divide the screen in half—but not straight down the middle—always frame your subject off-center. This composition strategy is known as The Golden Ratio. There’s a complicated math formula for figuring out the Golden Ratio of a picture, but you can get an idea of how it works by dividing a 6” wide photo into 4” and 2” sections. For example, if you’re taking a picture of a person posing in front of Windsor Castle you’ll want 4” of castle and 2” of person.

Take Multiples
You’ve got a digital camera, take advantage of it. Take the same photo with different compositions. Keep your favorite, delete the rest.

Put Paths in the Corner
If you’re shooting a road, path, stairway or corridor, start the path in either corner of your display.

Flatter People
Taking pictures of people from slightly above them instead of below makes them look slimmer and younger than straight on or from below.

Clean Your Lens
You’d be shocked at how dirty your lens gets.

Use Natural Light
Dusk and dawn are the best times for photographs. Otherwise, natural light is your friend. Save flash for when it’s absolutely necessary, such as at night or in a cave.

Shoot at the Highest Resolution
Setting your camera on the highest resolution possible gives you much more freedom if you have to do any post editing. Cropping, for example, will give you bigger final pictures the higher the original resolution.

Think Like a Lournalist
Look for slices of life or weird things to document. Think like a journalist but don’t be rude like paparazzi. Always ask before you take someone’s picture. Make eye contact, smile, hold up your camera and ask “okay?”.

Learn Your Settings
Most every camera has a micro setting for taking close-ups (look for a little tulip icon), a normal setting and a macro setting (look for a little mountain icon). If you’re taking pictures of the thistles in Scotland, get right in there with your macro setting and let it fill the display. If you’re taking a picture of Kilimanjaro, use your macro setting and shoot it off center.

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