Using Your Digital Camera

using your digital camera -

What makes one image more pleasing than another? By following A few simple steps about where to place elements within your pictures, you’d be surprised how much you can improve your photography.

Composition is the name given to the combination all the elements within the photo and their position in the scene. Compositional rules can be thought of as guides to help get better photos. Here are some key Techniques to keep up your sleeve.


Always fill the frame with your subject. If you are photographing a person, you can see them clearly and that they do not appear too small within the frame. The benefit of this is that you make the most use of all the pixels you have at your disposal. This is particularly important for digital cameras with lower resolution sensors.

Another framing tippers to use frames within frames. When taking a shot, don’t be afraid to use elements of your surroundings to frame a more distant part of the scene. Shooting through a window including the window frame is a good example, as is including overhanging branches or foliage.

Portrait or Landscape?

Like any other digital camera, yours can be used horizontally in its normal or landscape format. It can also be used upright in the vertical or portrait format.

While these names suggest the types of image you usually use each format to photograph, experiment to see which works best for a given shot. Often what Works one way might be made even better simply by turning the camera. 

Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds also known as the golden section, can be used to add tension and a dynamic field to your photos by careful placement of the main elements. First, imagine your digital camera’s display is split into a grid of 9 equal squares with two lines running horizontally across it and two lines running vertically across it down it. Non your display depending upon your digital camera’s display may have the ability to present these composition lines.

using your digital camera - the rule of thirds -

if you place the subject on any of these lines, positioning specific elements within a photo where the lines intersect the image can have more impact. Try placing the horizontal lines across the top or bottom rather than across the center of a shot. or place a person at one of the intersections when you want to put them in contacts with the background in a landscape style photo.

Bulls-eye Composition 

This is when the main subject of the shot is smack in the center of the frame, and should be avoided unless you have a specific reason for doing it. This type of images less pleasing to the eye and lacks dynamism. However, good uses for such composition might include an emphasis on circular subjects in macro work, for dynamic effect.


You can create images with either equal or unequal balance. The balance you have elements within the photo balancing each side of the image, for example, two buildings of the same size.

Where you choose to use an equal balance you would have one prominent subject with another element in the scene placed on the other side of the frame that’s either closer or further away, whichever is best for the composition.

Place a big tree on one side, then a small rock or bush or person on the other side. Although a subjective technique, it is one that can prove very successful when the elements are positioned carefully.


The last rule but probably the most important is to simply experiment. Like so many rules, these simple techniques can be broken or bent and by mixing them up your quickly learn how to get the best from your digital camera and have lots of fun in the process. 


Getting your images sharply focused is just a matter of pointing the camera at the subject and pressing the button, isn’t it? The focus is critical to good photos, and today’s cameras usually have an autofocus system which quickly gets things sharp. However, not using this properly can ruin an otherwise perfect shot.

Most digital cameras have a central autofocus target, indicated by a small square on the color screen or in the viewfinder. Many use multiple focus points, which ensure off-center subjects stay sharp.

But how many times have you taken a picture of family members side-by-side with a gap between them and the camera is focused on the wall behind? As you continue on in this post you will explore ways to prevent such problems.

Don’t Rush the Shutter Button

All digital cameras that use autofocus have a dual pressure shutter button. A first half press and hold activates the focusing and the in camera systems. Pause, and then you’ll get some form of focus confirmation such as a green LED in the optical viewfinder, and or a green icon displaying in or a beep.

Completely depress the shutter release once you have these confirmations to take your shot. Trying to take a shot in one big press won’t give time for the camera to set itself properly, and you risk taking a blurred photo every time.


In portraiture, your intention is to take a picture of a person. This usually means a head and shoulders shot, or tightly cropped face, so always focus on the subject’s eyes.

If your camera allows control over which autofocus points you can use, select the central autofocus point, or the face priority autofocus system where applicable, and use it to focus.

Remember, this is activated by a half press of the shutter button. Hold the shutter button down and recompose the shot. With the subject in focus, complete the process by pressing the shutter button all the way down to take the shot.


To get a good landscape you need to ensure sharp focus from the foreground to the far distance. Begin by autofocusing on a prominent object in the distance. Haziness can hamper autofocus; if your digital camera uses a wide autofocus system. You can overcome this by not setting the focus to something nearby or at an edge of the frame. Then keep your camera steady, using a tripod or monopod if necessary.

Try using the cameras landscape scene mode, if it has one, as this optimizes camera settings for landscape work, or select a small aperture if using manual settings.

Macro Shots

Digital cameras offer some of their best results in close up or macro work. Some digital cameras can focus to within 1 cm of the subject, ensuring frame-filling shots, or even tiny details. However, you need to ensure the correct part of this subject is sharply focused.

Use a single autofocus point and recompose once it’s in focus. Also use a tripod, which helps keep things stable if you are using slower shutter speeds. Remember, for close-up work you can use the camera’s macro mode, or select a small aperture if using manual settings.

Small Groups

The problem of the autofocus locking onto the wall behind a group shot can be overcome by moving the subjects to reduce any gaps between them, or focus on one person’s face and then recompose. This way, you’ll ensure that the group, and not the wall behind them, is sharp. Again, try to use the face priority autofocus system.

Tips On Avoiding Autofocus Problems

Some subjects always cause autofocus systems problems, so here are ways to avoid them.

Parallel lines and regular patterns – for the autofocus to key on, try tilting the camera from landscape to portrait and refocusing, then recompose for the shot.

The dark – unless your digital camera has an autofocus emitter, this shines a beam of light out to help focusing, darkness or dark subjects provide nothing for the camera to focus on. To overcome this, get more light on the scene by turning on a light or two. Once the subject is illuminated set your focus to ensure the subject is clear and sharp, turn autofocus off, and then return the lighting to its previous state.

Low contrast – haze, a predominantly white or black subject that doesn’t provide the autofocus anything to focus upon can all present problems. You cannot change in the weather, so try looking for an alternative but prominent element of the scene to focus upon. Also use the cameras landscape mode, which ensures a small aperture is used.

The manual focus solution – alternatively, to help prevent any of the above problems, try using your camera’s manual focus mode, if it has one. By taking control of the focusingf yourself (check your cameras manual for operating instructions), particularly if you have the time to work on the photo, this will provide find control and you can check the results on the LCD too.

What is Depth of Field?

depth of field -

The depth of field is simply how large the focused area in a photo actually is. Let’s see how this technique can be used to help create emphasis in your photos.

Everyone has seen photographs in which everything in the picture is crystal clear, from the foreground flower to the distant mountains. You’ve also seen pictures where only the main subject is sharply rendered, and everything else is blurry.

These are two examples of the effect which the depth of field can have. The image where the main subject is sharply rendered but the foreground and the background are blurry in varying degrees are examples of a shallow depth of field.

In more accurate technical terms, depth of field can be defined as being the range of object distance within which objects are imaged acceptable sharpness. Thankfully, particularly if you are using a compact digital camera, you don’t need to know about the complexities behind the depth of field calculations, just how to maximize it to your advantage.depth of field 1 - www.darkphotography.orgFor Simplicity, here are the key practical points about depth of field:

1 – A wide aperture gives you a shallow depth of field

2 – A small aperture gives deep depth of field

3 – A telephoto lens, or long zoom, at the zoomed setting appears to give a shallow depth of field

4 – a Wide angle lens appears to give a deep depth of field

In points 3 and 4 as shown above the wording ‘appears to’ is used because the perception in the shot is usually as described, it is not always technically speaking, accurate. It depends on this subject magnification and scene perspective or viewpoint that makes a direct comparison of focal length and depth of field it difficult. However, although this may sound complex, you can now start to play with the depth of field effects in your images.

When to Use shallow depth of field

The most common use for a shallow depth of field is in portraiture, where you want to emphasize the subject. By using either a long focal length on your lens and or a wide aperture, such as F2.8 (which will give you a larger aperture), you can get the effect of a sharp subject and blurry background.

This will allow the light to reach the sensor in a different way when compared to using a smaller aperture. We will look at some comparisons in the next few sections of this post. Use this technique on any shot where you want to separate it from the background. A shortcut is to use the portrait mode on your camera if it has one.

When to use deep depth of field

This is slightly more flexible, but a good example of when to use a deep depth of field is when taking landscape photographs. Typically you will use a wide-angle zoom lens, and a small aperture of F8. This will help to ensure that the sharply rendered area in the shot stretches from near to the camera out to the far distance. A shortcut here is to use your camera as landscape mode if it has one.

Close-up and depth of field

It is worth pointing out that in close-up shooting, particularly if your camera has a good close-up or macro mode, the depth of field will be very shallow indeed; a mere millimeter or two at the most. Use a smaller aperture such as f8 to help deepen, or increase, the depth of field if you want more of the small object to be sharply focused.

Throwing the background out of focus

By selecting a suitable aperture, it is possible to throw the background out of focus by changing the depth of field. The example shown below of the same scene was taken with different f-stops to illustrate how this influences the depth of field in a visual manner.

First, the smallest aperture, f22, was used, which gave the sharpest image out them all. As we move from f22 to f16 you can see that less of the background is sharp. Even more obvious as you move to f5.6 where the trees and the grass are heavily blurred. This technique is used to draw the viewers attention to a specific area in the photo. When you compare the effect from f22 to f1.8 it is easier to see that the attention goes to the small cluster of leaves and flowers at the end of the branch.

By using a smaller aperture (f22), you will need a longer shutter speed to achieve the required exposure. This allows the light that is in the further areas of distance, the background, to reach the sensor and imprint a clearer image. Where the aperture is larger (f1.8), you will need a much shorter shutter speed to achieve the required exposure, and therefore, the light that is in the distance does not have enough time to clearly imprint the scene on the sensor, and as a result, it will be blurred.

depth of field explained -

Using F-Numbers

The physics behind the effect that aperture size has on f-numbers, or f-stops, have on photos is quite complex. But, here are some simplified ways to think of them which may help make sense of this.

The first thing to remember is that a low f-stop of f2.8 gives a larger aperture, while a higher f-stop, such as f8, gives a smaller aperture. Big number = little hole, and little number = big hole, to put it simply. The bigger the hole, the more light that can pass through, and on the flip side, the smaller the hole, the less light can pass through.

You can use bigger apertures to let more light in if it is dark and you don’t want to use a flash, this can also help to get faster shutter speeds. When you start to practice working with the depth of field, you begin to see how you can adjust a combination of aperture, shutter speed, and even ISO to achieve different results.