Thursday, June 15, 2006

Locking Focus and Controlling the Exposure on your Digital Camera

By Christina VanGinkel

How often have you snapped a picture, intending to capture a special moment, only to have the main focal subject clearly not in focus, yet the background image, the part of the photo that is not very important, in focus? If you are anything like me, you can probably not count how many times this has occurred. Rarely, if ever, should this have to happen though. And the fix for it is so simple, that once you understand and learn how to avoid it, you will be chastising yourself for all the ruined photo opportunities that you have wasted through the years!

The work around to keep this from occurring is to center the intended snapshot on the part of the photographs that you want to be the focus. Once you have done this, depress the shutter button half way, then frame the shot as you want to, and then snap the shutter button all the way, taking the picture.

With all the different features available on the myriad variety of digital cameras now available on the market, keep in mind that some cameras might actually have an independent function specifically to accomplish this. However, the way I just described is by far the easiest and quickest way I have ever found to get the picture as perfect as can be.

Getting the exposure of a picture right can also be just as easily fixed. By simply fooling the camera, into picking up the proper lighting of the area of the photo that you want to be the most prominent, almost always results in a picture that is just as you pictured it. Take for example a photograph of a stunning cactus plant in the desert with a massive bright blue sky behind it. If you just swing up your camera and snap the picture, you risk losing the details of the cactus because of the brightness of the sky when your camera actually snapped the picture. By first focusing your lens on the cactus itself, then halfway depressing the shutter button, before pulling back and getting the whole scene, cactus and sky in the frame, before you snap the final picture, you will have a snapshot that not only has captured the cactus in all of its beautiful detail, but also the bright blue sky behind it.

By taking the time to play with these two quick to learn tricks, you can immensely improve the outcome of your average photograph. You will avoid all the blurred shots that have been the cause of so many memories being lost forever. No more will you have to wonder why you snapped the picture of a fence, with all of its details, and wonder at the same time if your daughter was that blurry in the foreground when you actually snapped the picture. The next time, it will be the fence that is somewhat blurred, as it is of no importance, yet your daughter will be crystal clear with her huge grin and armful of wildflowers.

When someone is learning the basics of photography, it is sometimes too easy to be caught up in all of the technical jargon. We can read manuals, take classes taught by people who seem to speak some foreign language, and read article after article on the subject of taking better photos, and still not understand the basics. If someone would just show us or tell us a shortcut such as these though, we would notice the harder things quicker and easier. We can learn how something as subtle as moving a camera just a bit and halfway depressing the shutter before swinging it back for the intended shot can have such a deep impact on the outcome of the photograph.

Of course, the best lessons are those that you can practice, and practice some more. So with this in mind, grab your camera and go practice these two easy lessons until you not only understand how simple they are to execute under various circumstances, but also until you capture that one photograph that you have always dreamed of capturing. Only then will you truly understand how simple does work, when it comes to getting the best photo you can ever hope to capture.

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