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25 Digital Photography Tips (Cont'd)

15.  Cameras vary in their compression ratios (the smaller the better). The best on one brand may be 1:2 while on another it may be 1:4. Anything up to 1:8 will produce acceptable images; in fact, you’d have a hard time telling the difference. The Canon Digital Rebel, for example, uses 1:7 at its best setting and huge prints from its images look just fine.

16. To make sure the colors you see on your monitor print out correctly, you must calibrate it so it accurately displays the colors in your image files. The printer uses that file and not your monitor for its output. Calibration assures that the monitor is displaying exactly the same colors that are in the file and that any changes you make to the image on your monitor will be made to the file which, in turn, will be reflected in your print-out.

17.  Use the right paper for your inkjet printer. Epsons shoot cold dots of ink while most others shoot hot ones. It’s perfectly OK to use third-party papers (Red River has a huge selection) but make sure they are compatible with the type of printer you have.

18.  Start off with a good imaging program. Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0 is the world’s greatest bargain and that’s what you should use. Don’t spend a fortune on the full version of Photoshop to begin with; in fact, it might be a bit overwhelming. Photoshop Elements is probably all you’ll ever need and for under $100 it’s a steal.

19.  You may be a techie and love all that geeky stuff, but photography is still about making pictures that say something. The finest equipment is worthless if you can’t use it to express yourself. Read a few books that emphasize the creative side. One to get is Bryan Peterson’s "Learning To See Creatively."

20.  Sometimes it’s hard to just aimlessly wander around looking for good pictures to shoot. Always give yourself a mini-assignment to stay on track. Like kids at play, people at bus stops, interesting doorways, afternoon shadows, and so on. That way, you have a direction in which to go and the challenge of trying to interpret things in your own unique way.

21.  Move in. Most pictures have way too much extraneous junk in them. By taking a few giant steps forward, your pictures will become more dramatic and go from ho-hum to ooh-ah.

22.  Shoot, shoot, and shoot. Shoot a few pictures a week and it will take you forever to become a good photographer. But shoot a couple of hundred shots a week and you’ll progress a lot faster.

23.  As a rule of thumb, never shoot less than six to ten pictures of a subject. Explore it from different angles, go for different poses, stay with it, trying with each new shot to make a better picture than the one before.

24.  The worst pictures you can possibly make will be with the camera’s flash. Unless you’re shooting "record" shots (your possessions for insurance purposes, for example), stash the flash. Start shooting with available light and you’ll begin to feel the magic.

25.  Try new points of view. Get down and shoot up or up and shoot down. Tilt the camera to induce some dynamic tension. Come in ultra close or shoot from really far away. And guess what? If you turn your camera 90-degrees to the left or right you can shoot exciting vertical images. It’s a built-in feature on every camera– use it.

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