Stop the Dumbing Down of Taking Pictures
It seems everywhere you look these days someone is snapping a photo. It could be at the playground with a picture of children on the swings, or in a restaurant with a photo of a just-served meal, or at the beach at the end of the day to catch the sunset. Then we post them online to share with our family and friends. Having a pocket camera or cell phone at the ready is one aspect of good photography, but that is just the beginning. Here are some next steps:
– Learn the basics – Composition, lighting, exposure, framing, focus, flash and more are all things that make for a good photo. The photo of Prince William, his wife Catherine and their new born Prince George discussed on CNN.com needs help with the basics. The grandfather of Prince George could use a few lessons.
– Know your camera – Read the manual and find out what all those symbols mean on the function dial. Experiment with different camera settings (e.g., panoramic photos with an iPhone). Also know your camera’s limitations. The pros carry big cameras and lenses for a reason.
– Use a photo-editing program – Learn how to fix the easy problems. Photoshop is probably overkill, but Photoshop Elements, Google’s Picasa, Apple’s iPhoto, and Pixelmator are good for amateurs. You can color correct, change resolution and exposure, crop and size, and more to make a good photo better.
– Self edit – Use moderation when posting photos. Don’t make us wade through a hundred photos to see a handful of good ones.
– Print the good ones – At family gatherings, do you pass around your phone or camera or show photos on a big screen TV? Don’t forget to go to the drugstore and make some prints. Grandma and grandpa want something for their refrigerator door without jumping through the hoops of online ordering.
– Lower the resolution – Now that even cell phones have high-resolution cameras, we receive multi-megabyte images in email attachments. While you’re editing the photos, lower the resolution to something more reasonable. For viewing on a computer screen, a 4×6 image at 72 ppi is fine. The Photoshop guru, Scott Kelby, says 150 ppi is plenty for printing photos up to 10×14 on an inkjet printer. Only if the photo is for print publication is 300 ppi common.