Tips for better photos

Getting Your Sharpest Shot

Sharp lenses and accurate films need your help if they're to deliver optimum results. Using a tripod will result in much sharper pictures than almost any handheld camera can produce. A tripod also helps you compose the picture carefully – you can make the fine adjustments to place the subject just right. With a tripod you can take indoor pictures without needing a flash.

Compose a Margin

If you're photographing a building to get an overall view, any outlines or features that are too close to the edge of your viewfinder may be cut off in the final photo. Use a wider angle lens or move back enough from the subject to give it some "breathing room". Sometimes it is easier to get a good building photo by moving a long ways away and using a short telephoto lens (be sure to use a tripod for any telephoto work). Compared to working closer with a wide lens, the telephoto will be less likely to distort the appearance of vertical lines.

Use the Right Light

If your subject is a building, it will look best in a picture if the brightest light is on the face or main entrance side. Compare early morning and late afternoon lighting. Strong mid-day shadows may obscure a lot of the architectural detail.

Direct sunlight may also cause the details of transportation machinery to be obscured. It's a good idea to use fill flash for these subjects, or try to reflect some light into shaded areas by holding a piece of 30" x 40" white matt board or a sheet of foamboard at an effective angle. A hazy sun often provides the best light for artifacts displayed outdoors, and this softer light is also recommended for photos of a building if its entrance faces north or trees cast "busy" shadows on it.

Try a Better Point of View

In photographs, the shape of buildings and artifacts is easier to see if the camera is aimed at a corner, rather than flat-on. A corner view provides twice as much information in one picture.

Convergence occurs in many building photos when the camera has been aimed upward, often from street level. The lens makes the vertical lines of the building tilt inward, much more than you would see just looking from that angle without a camera.

To achieve a less distorted effect in your pictures, try to set up your camera where it won't have to be tilted up too much to include the whole structure. See if you can aim from an upper level of a neighboring building, from a balcony, a stairway – any platform that brings your lens height closer to the mid-point of the subject will help.



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