Genealogy: Taking better digital outdoor photos

Taking better digital outdoor photosBy Barry J. Ewell

Using light to your advantage is what separates good photos from great ones. The best times to take pictures are usually early morning and early evening; the worst time is generally midday, when light is most harsh.

Let your camera be your guide. Many digital cameras have technology that allows you to create pictures that look more like what you see with your own eyes. It balances brightness, preserves contrasts, and ensures details aren’t lost.

Digital camera’s white balance can help make photos look more realistic no matter what type of light you’re in. Sun, shadow, dawn, dusk—Digital cameras with this breakthrough technology will automatically find the right setting for each shot.

Nature up close.  Perfect for shooting flowers, butterflies, and other aspects of the great outdoors, close-up photography reveals details the naked eye can’t see. Close-ups isolate the subject from surrounding clutter. Learn more about Close-up photography.

Digital cameras with a macro shooting mode are great for taking close-up images when the focal point is very tight on the center of the subject. The camera automatically adjusts the aperture and shutter speed so that the subject will be sharper and clearer. This takes the background and foreground out of focus, so you can capture a single flower, leaf, or ladybug with crystal clarity.

Faraway views.  Once you’ve mastered close-up shots of the natural world, broaden your horizons with wide-format pictures. Many cameras include an automatic landscape shooting mode so you can capture scenes with deep perspective, and keep the foreground and background in focus.

Mountain ranges, desert plateaus, and the ocean at sunset also provide amazing opportunities for memorable panoramic images. To make your photos unique, be sure to position a person, animal, or unusual landscape feature in the foreground of your photo.

In-camera panorama preview lets you see an outline from your first shot on the LCD so you can precisely line up the second shot. In-camera stitching combines up to five photos that can be reviewed on the LCD so you can see the whole panoramic picture. When downloaded to your PC, the pictures are easily stitched together to create a final, seamless panorama photo.

Going abstract.  Abstract photography is about capturing color, shape, and pattern to create an intense visual experience for the viewer. Begin with subjects that lend themselves to abstraction: leaves and water reflections, for example. Seek out interesting patterns and textures in tree branches and leaves. Objects you’ve never considered photographing will suddenly seem like prime subjects.
You can always use image-editing software to create unique effects in your photograph.

Art show.  There are so many creative ways to use your outdoor photos. Frame two or three images together as a series. Or save your favorites in a photo journal. Not only is a journal a great way to collect your best shots, but you can use it for practical purposes too, like recording plantings so you don’t forget what will bloom where.