Tips for Taking Great Digital Photos

DOs and DON'Ts. Tips to ALWAYS do, to NEVER do, and to CONSIDER for great digital photos. Taking thousands of digital pictures over several years has allowed me to become competent at digital photography. This in turn has led to this site, providing my ocean-related free high quality photos and selling high resolution pictures collected over 40 years of working on ocean and fisheries issues. I have also begun branching out with other themes and also with my fledgling site about my favorite inventions and technology (

See all the other Tips:  Choosing a Camera and Accessories , Taking Digital Photos, Downloading Photos, and Editing Photos.


  • Get a large memory card of 1G or more. 8G cards are less than $40 delivered and some are even high speed. Not all formats support the high memory.

  • Use the maximum resolution, largest photo size and least compression your camera will support. That is why you bought that camera! Someday, perhaps 10 years from now, you may want to project that picture on a wall. Or, you may just want to crop a piece and have enough information for a printer, or not be embarassed taking your pictures to show on a friend's big-screen TV.

  • Use a fill in flash (put flash ON) when the face of your subject is in a shadow.   Remember the flash only reaches about 10 feet (3 meters). Get used to forcing a flash outdoors. Also, some cameras will think you want only the nearby subject, if the flash is on, so they won't adjust for the distant parts of the picture.

  • Shut the flash off in dim lighting of distant shots over 10 feet (3 meters) away, to force the camera to compensate. Most cameras will think you want only the material in range of the flash, if the flash is on.

  • Lock the focus in a dark area of the scene, so you can take a picture where the lighting is putting the subject in the shade.

  • Use the MACRO mode for closeups. Often this is the FLOWER symbol.

  • Frame the picture in your mind. Imagine it on your computer or a print. Move in close so you avoid the need to crop, or at least you have enough data to support cropping. Don't chop off body parts nor get too much sky.

  • Hold the camera steady, perhaps bracing your body, or the camera, against a surface, particularly in dim light. Carry a mini tripod in your pocket and practice using it.

  • Turn the image stabilization ON, if your camera has it.

  • Use the tripod and your remote (if you have one) to activate the timer for ultra crisp shots.

  • Get on the same level as the subject. It might mean getting on the floor for that special photo of your pet.


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  • For richer, warmer (brighter yellows and reds) photos of outside portraits and sunny landscapes, change the white balance setting to CLOUDY . It is normally on AUTO.

  • For richer colors, use a polarizer filter for landscapes and most outside photos to minimize reflections and glare, just as with your sunglasses.

  • Take a picture with various settings and see the impacts by looking at the EXIF information that your camera inserts into each the file of each picture.

  • Use red - eye reduction on people or animal shots, except where spontaneity is compromised.

  • Learning the advance features on your camera: particuluarly "Best Shot Selector (BSS)" for action shots or "Continuous Mode" for stills.  The actual name of these functions will vary, but BSS is something a film camera just can't do.

  • Get the subject in front of a plain background. It minimizes the distractions. This is REALLY important if you are taking a passport photo!


  • Remove the camera memory card before turning off the camera. You could ruin both, in addition to losing your pictures.

  • Use digital zoom. Well, almost never. If you need to blow up a piece of a photo, do it on your computer.

  • Leave the flash on AUTO when taking distant shots. If the camera senses it is too dark, it will adjust for the 10 feet (3 meters) that the flash will illuminate, ignoring the focusing and brightness of distant objects, such as performers on a stage or mountains at sunset.

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