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Getting Gorgeous Prints: How to Take Better Photos with Your Digital Camera

How Many Pixels Do I Need
Setting Camera for the Right Resolution
Bye-Bye Red-Eye
Photo Composition Tips

How Many Pixels Do I Need?

For most people, a 10 mega-pixel (MP) camera is plenty for the average photo-taker, providing good performance for the money. It is suitable for making high quality prints up to 8x10. These days you will see cameras with 14 or even 18MP. In my opinion, a lot of this is marketing and far more than the average person needs unless you are frequently making poster-size prints.

Setting Your Camera for the Right Resolution

As a rule of thumb, set your camera to the highest resolution to ensure you can print your photos at the size you want. Many online digital printing services post digital photo resolution charts to assist you in getting the best possible prints. Below is a general guideline.

Resolution

Suggested Print Size

less than 640 x 480 Only wallet-size prints recommended
640 x 480 Absolute minimum resolution for 4x6
1024 x 768 Minimum recommended resolution for 4x6
1152 x 864 Minimum recommended resolution for 5x7
1600 x 1200 Minimum recommended resolution for 8x10 or larger

Say Good-bye to Red-Eye

There are several ways you can reduce the red eye in your photos. To start, make sure you use your camera's red eye reduction feature. Turn on more lights or change the angle of your photo. Try to photograph your subjects with their shoulders slightly turned, not directly head-on. If you still end up with red-eye, use the digital photography red eye correction tool that comes with online photo services such as Shutterfly.

Photo Composition Tips

What will set you apart from other photographers is how well you compose your pictures. Here are some tips:

For more flattering portraits, try to photograph people slightly off center with their shoulders slightly turned, not directly head-on.

Make sure the sun is BEHIND you.

Use flash whenever possible, even in daytime.

Follow the Rule of Thirds:

Get Close

Your subject is interesting, so get close to it. Don't let your pictures suffer from the "Grandma at the Grand Canyon" syndrome, with a tiny subject and lots of boring, irrelevant space.

Try Unusual Angles

Be bold! Try turning your camera to 45 degrees before snapping a picture. Or instead of snapping it from eye level, kneel down or lie on the ground to get a more interesting shot.

Frame Your Subject

Try framing your picture with foreground objects to add depth to the image.

Pay Attention to Lines

Avoid Cluttered Backgrounds

Don't let a cluttered background overwhelm or obscure your subject.
Move around, or lie down, to get a clear shot at your subject without the distractions. A cluttered background can obscure your main subject. Reposition your subject or yourself

Avoid Mergers

As you position yourself to avoid a cluttered background, also look out for trees, lamp posts, and other background objects which might merge with your subject in unfortunate ways. Don't let a tree grow out of your subject's head Reposition your subject or yourself to avoid mergers.

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