Oct 18, 2004

Six Quick Tips for Digital Photographers

Don't Miss the Shot

Whether it's a baby's first step, the look of surprise when someone receives the perfect gift, or a one-of-a-kind sunset, we all want to capture and save special moments with great photographs.

Here are six easy tips to help ensure that you and your digital camera are ready for expected and unexpected photo opportunities.

1. Keep your camera close by every day. While it seems obvious that you can't get the picture if you don't have a camera, many people forget to have the camera handy. As a reminder, try placing your camera next to your cell phone before bed, and then pick up both when you head out the door in the morning. Make your camera as regular a companion as your watch or wallet.

2. Ensure that the camera battery is fully charged. Digital cameras consume a lot of power, and, unfortunately, some digital camera batteries are notoriously short-lived. Make it a habit to charge the battery often and consider buying and carrying a spare battery.

3. Upgrade your memory card. If you're using the card that came with the camera, chances are good that it's insufficient for capturing anything more than a few medium- or low-resolution JPEGs. Instead, buy a larger capacity card and set the camera to the highest or next-highest resolution to ensure that you can make high-quality enlargements from your images.

4. Anticipate the action. This is especially important if your digital camera has shutter lag, or a delay between the time you press the shutter release button and the time the camera takes the picture. Better yet, for critical moments, learn how to switch to your camera's burst mode. In this mode, the camera takes a series (the number depends on your specific camera) of pictures with no delay between shots. Expect a delay, however, after taking the sequence as the camera reads the images to the memory card or media.

5. Turn on image protection. Some cameras allow you to "protect" images so that you don't accidentally overwrite them with new images. To find out if your camera offers protection, check the manual that came with the camera. Then turn on protection for all of your once-in-a-lifetime shots. Also download images to your computer after each session to avoid the temptation to overwrite pictures the next time you use the camera.

6. Never prematurely remove the memory media. You can easily lose the pictures the camera is writing to memory by removing the memory card during the writing process. Always wait for the access lamp to stop blinking before removing the memory card.

Final Advice

In photography, practice makes perfect—or certainly "closer-to-perfect" pictures. Don't wait for the special moments. Take pictures every day to become familiar with your camera, and experiment with creative ways to use it.

Charlotte Lowrie