15 Digital Photography Tips

Gone are the days when we “shook it like a Polaroid picture.” In today’s world, digital photography reigns supreme, and you’ll need to be comfortable with its bells and whistles if you want to succeed as a 21st century creative. Here are just a few digital photography tips to help you get started.

1. Invest in a DSLR

The first step to digital photography is purchasing a digital camera. While there are many different types such as compact cameras and bridge cameras, the best in the industry is the digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera. Not only does it take high-quality photos, but it also comes with all kinds of options in terms of filters, lenses and settings. It’s a very versatile tool.

dslr camera live view

2. Build Your Vocabulary

You can’t master digital photography tips until you understand all of the words being thrown around in them. What’s metadata? How does depth of field relate to exposure types? What’s the difference between CCD and CMOS sensors? Give yourself a working knowledge of photography terms before you start pointing and clicking.

3. Shoot in “Raw” Mode

“Raw” mode saves pictures to your camera without any kind of editing or processing. By contrast, “JPEG” mode will automatically brighten, sharpen and saturate. While the latter can be very convenient for first-timers, it’s something that you shouldn’t get used to if you’re serious about succeeding as a digital photographer. JPEG mode is a crutch that will keep you from learning how to edit your own photos.

factory settings vs raw file
Comparison between photo taken with the factory settings (left) vs. RAW photo, both captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III. Source

4. Teach Yourself Post-Processing

Speaking of photo editing, one of the secrets of digital photography tips is that everyone beautifies their photos on the computer. Whether it’s improving the color balance of a sunset panorama or correcting the red-eyed subjects of a family portrait, it’s a completely accepted practice to edit your digital photos, so download something like Adobe Photoshop Elements and get started.

5. Evaluate Your Aperture

The holy grail of digital photography tips is aperture. It determines the amount of light that passes through your camera lens, and it’s measured in “f-stops” like f/4 and f/8. The smaller the f-stop, the larger the aperture, so an f-stop of f/2 would be considered large while an f-stop of f/32 would be quite small. Different situations will require different apertures, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

aperture macro

6. Try Various Shutter Speeds

Your camera’s shutter speed will determine how long the lens is exposed when you take a picture. Slow shutter speeds are used for low-light situations like nighttime sky photography; high shutter speeds are used to capture freeze-frames of motion from fast-moving subjects. Shutter speeds are measured in fractions of a second, so get used to seeing numbers like 1/20 and 1/200.

7. Get to Know Your ISO

The last of the “exposure triangle” that includes aperture and shutter speed, ISO measures your camera’s sensitivity to light. If you’re in a bright valley filled with sunshine, you can set your ISO quite low; your camera doesn’t need to be sensitive to pick up the natural light all around you. On the other hand, if you’re shooting in a dim or darkened room, a high ISO will be needed to register every little bit of light available to your camera sensor.

photography lens

8. Count Your Pixels

If you’re seeking tips for good photography with digital camera, you should know that all digital images are made of pixels. Multiplied pixels determine an image’s resolution, but it’s important to understand that these numbers do not reflect actual size in real-world photos. A 500×600 photo will not be 500×600 inches. You’ll need a pixel conversion chart if you want to see which resolutions will result in 4×6 or 8×10 prints.

9. Create Your Own Lighting

From studio lamps to flash tools, there are many ways to manipulate the light in your photos. In fact, there are whole volumes of digital photography tips dedicated solely to illumination. Did you know that you can “bounce” light off walls and ceilings for more focused streams? Were you aware that you can brighten, dim, diffuse, spread and focus it for particular color and contrast effects?

photography lighting umbrella

10. Buy Rechargeable Batteries

While alkaline batteries will do in a pinch, it’s worth the investment of purchasing rechargeable batteries for your digital camera. Digital cameras are “high-drain” devices since they use up batteries so quickly, but with rechargeable ones, you won’t have to worry about running out to the hardware store to replace them in the middle of a shoot. They’re also better for the environment, so it’s a win for Mother Nature too.

11. Get Rid of Motion Blur

Motion blur is the kiss of death in most photos. The easiest way to avoid it is by investing in a tripod that will hold your camera steady while you’re aiming and shooting, but you can also learn special camera-holding techniques to reduce involuntary movement if you have to have it in your hands.

treadmill motion blur

12. Change Your Lenses

Improve your knowledge of digital photography tips and tricks by experimenting with different lenses. They can have quite the impact on your photos, especially if you’re playing around with something like macro photography. You’ll need a specialty macro lens if you really want to capture the fine details of a close-up subject; regular cameras just aren’t equipped to deal with that kind of input.

13. Think About Your Background

Some photos can benefit from eye-catching backgrounds. Others will suffer because of too many visual elements competing for attention in a single shot. There’s no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to choosing the background of your photo, so play it by ear whenever you’re on location. As any list of digital photography tips will tell you, the key is balance: If your subject is busy, then your background probably shouldn’t be.

digital camera tripod

14. Divide Your Shot Into Grids

Are you struggling with the composition of a photo? Put a grid pattern over your camera’s viewing screen. A 2×2 grid can help you align backgrounds across four separate squares; a 3×3 grid will allow you to perfectly center your subject in the middle of nine squares. This is one of those digital photography tips that requires a familiarity with math, but once you master it, it’s much easier than your old algebra class.

15. Emulate the Experts

If you’re a fan of a particular photographer on Twitter or Instagram, ask them to share some tips. If you’re looking to recreate the technique of your favorite viral image, put descriptive phrases into a search engine until a tutorial pops up. Digital photography is a field where everyone builds off each other, and there’s no shame in taking inspiration from others until you figure out your own style.

Becoming a photographer isn’t always easy, but with these digital photography tips, you might find it less difficult than you thought. What do you say, readers? Did we leave out any tricks, suggestions or digital photography basics that absolutely must be shared? Give us your wisdom in the comments!

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