Digital Photo Academy

Learn How To Use Your Digital Camera

DPA Magazine

It′s Important to Play!

It′s important to play! It′s easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles of a new camera or lens, but sometimes it′s important to let go of the serious side of photography and just goof around. This shot was made with a point and shoot on a lovely spring day in New York′s Central Park. No big cameras, no heavy camera bag - just a patch of grass, a new friend and a playful mindset. © 2007 Chris Richards, Phoenix DPA Instructor

Detail vs. Mood

Location: Central Park, NYC Tip:  Detail is important, but so is mood. This effect was created in camera, by choosing the right lighting, exposure & shutter speed. © 2007 Douglas Carver, New York DPA Instructor This photo was taken from the same location, minutes apart from the other Jogger 1 photo (above). Changing the exposure (less) & shutter speed (faster) yields a significantly different mood. © 2007 Douglas Carver, New York DPA Instructor

Add Contrasting Elements to your Images

My husband and I went hiking in Oklahoma over the weekend and brought along the point and shoot. I was tired of lugging around gear, so we put this handy little camera in our backpack and ended up with some great images.  My husband shot many of them and he was actually pleased. He is not a photographer and is often disappointed with his results. Not this time--thanks to the great little Panasonic! All were shot on the easy auto mode... This image captures the sensory experience of a cold wind, stirring up a summer prairie. Normally, I would avoid a predictable bulls-eye composition taken at shoulder level above a fixed object—but in this case, the composition is anything but static and conventional. Why is this particular image so successful? Glorious movement! By placing the unmoving rock in the center of the viewfinder, nature’s force stirring among the flowers is magnified, as the rock anchors a whirlwind of movement and color. © 2007 Angilee Wilkerson, Dallas DPA Instructor The ambiguity inherent in an image lacking clarity and sharpness provides the viewer an experience of mystery and even a surreal intrigue. In most cases, a blurry image, lacking sharpness to serve as a resting point for the viewer’s eye, will often leave the viewer uninterested, due to an absence of visual entry into the image. This photograph’s static rock is the key to its success. This image also shows a keen eye for color: the rich greens and yellows of the moving flora are contrasted nicely against the flatness of the brown rock.  Instead of competing with each other—the flatness of the stone brings emphasis to the richness of the prairies color. We went back to the prairie the next day to find the cool wind gone: replaced with a humid heat and the  hum of honeybees collecting pollen.

Working With Flat Lighting

Flat lighting is not the end all be all of a good photograph. By doing a simple levels correction in Photoshop, a flat image can be turned into a photograph with good contrast and nice lighting. © 2007 Ken DeJarlais, Seattle DPA Instructor

Using Manual Mode when Shooting Backlit Flowers

You need not go to Washington D.C. or Kyoto, Japan in order to catch all the world′s cherry blossoms. Every spring the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens in New York City hosts its′ own cherry blossom festival. In this case I photographed directly into the sun to create this backlit image. For this type of image it is recommended to shoot your picture with the camera in manual mode to compensate for the bright sun in the image which can fool your meter and result in severe underexposure. If you prefer you can also use the exposure compensation feature on your camera. In this case set it to +3 to get the proper exposure on your backlit subject. © 2007 Andre Costantini, New York DPA Instructor

Spring Lightning Storms

One of the great spring and summer events that always make dramatic pictures are the storms that pop up during the evening hours. With digital cameras and a tripod one can set out and photograph a lightning storm after it has passed by. As for the technical data i have my cameras set to record in RAW mode. This allows me to get the most detail and fine tune the image for best quality once i return to the studio. I live in a city where there is a fair amount of ambient light at night so this allows me to keep my ISO, or the cameras sensitivity to light, at around ISO 100 with a F-Stop (aperture) of f5.6 and a shutter speed of around 5 seconds. Then it all comes down to patience, luck, and persistence. I keep shooting until I get a good lightning bolt during one of my exposures, the nice thing with digital is you can shoot a lot without fear of running out of film.  You can also adjust your exposure by checking the screen. © 2007 Darren Hauck, Chicago DPA Instructor

Silhouettes with a Panasonic Point-and-Shoot

A silhouette like this one is typically difficult to expose correctly. It is one thing to meter for a rich sky, casting the unlit subject into darkness, but it’s quite another to also maintain detail and color in the composition’s foreground. The Panasonic DMC-TZ3 did just this. By setting the meter in Simple Mode the camera took account of foreground, subject, and sky and chose an exposure that did not compromise the integrity of each. The position of the buffalo in front of the slate-blue mountain range, on the open prairie, establishes both a sense of timelessness and environmental history.  Notice how the roundness of the buffalo’s head and curving lines of its body strike a cord in union with the shape of the mountains—creating a visual sense of harmony in form.  This harmony is given added depth by the surrounding prairie grasses and wildflowers, which the movement of buffalo herds has helped to sustain over the centuries. The coexistence of animal and landscape in the image is also thematically-drawn by the placement of the buffalo in the front one-third of the frame. This placement leaves space all around the subject, so that the viewer is free to move visually through that great expanse of earth and sky, observing the stillness of the prairie as the sun falls behind the bison, while silhouetting the buffalo calls attention to its near-extinction. © Angilee Wilkerson, Dallas DPA Instructor

Shooting into the Sun

Most photographers are afraid of shooting directly into the sun. No one likes blown highlights and harsh shadows, however, sometimes  shooting into the sun can cause beautiful results. This photo below shows that by shooting almost into the sun the children are emphasized as the subject of the photo.   © 2007 Frank Siteman, Boston DPA Instructor

Keep Shooting Right Through Sunset

The last light of "the golden hour" can produce some spectacular light and texture. And don′t be afraid to alter the image proportions; here the more horizontal crop enhanced left-to-right flow of the boat and birds. © 2007 Michael Hart, Houston DPA Instructor

Great Photos at the Beach

The best time to be at the beach is sometimes the worst time for taking a great photograph. Direct midday light means great sun-tanning but it is a harsh and unflattering light for photography. Subjects tend to squint and the light bouncing off of sand can fool the exposure meter of your camera into under- or over-exposure. Here are the three best tips for taking better portraits at the beach: 1. Shoot on an overcast day. Cloudy conditions in the middle of the day means a softer, more flattering light and subjects who don′t squint. 2. Shoot into the afternoon or setting sun. This is only possible with SLR cameras with full manual controls, because your automatic exposure meter would underexpose the image leading to a silhouetted subject. Shooting at a proper exposure for backlit subjects will reveal even, shadowless skin tones and an blown-out, artistic background. 3. Shoot under a beach umbrella. Professional photographers prefer to shoot under open shade when they have to shoot in harsh mid-day sunlight. Your beach umbrella is a portable shadow that creates the soft, flattering light needed to take a great portrait.   © 2007 Joel Silverman, Atlanta DPA Instructor

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