The first key to quality shots is keeping a stable camera, either through how you hold it or on a device to mount it on.
- Hold the camera firmly at both sides with your elbows tight in against your body. This will keep the camera in the best position for either looking through the viewfinder or viewing the LCD screen while minimising shakes that could blur the image.
For added stability, consider using a mount:
- Tripods provide an excellent firm base to mount your camera on. Although they can be somewhat bulky, a number are designed to be lightweight and portable.
- Monopods are one-legged poles to mount the camera on. They greatly enhance stability, are lightweight, and are designed to be easy to carry. Some can be as small as half a metre when folded up, while others are made to double as hiking poles.
- Mini-tripods are extremely small and portable but, due to their tiny size, are not ideal for all circumstances. However, some feature bendable legs which can be wrapped around things like tree branches and the rungs of a gate, which allows for a number of creative options and framing.
Is Flash your friend?
Although most people think of using flash in dark situations, but this can sometimes produce washed-out images where the background is so dark it can’t be seen. This is because the camera has to expose for the brightest objects in the frame. The bright flash can also “burn out” any of the natural warmth in a scene, leading to images looking more “artificial” and less professional.
- Many modern compact cameras can take excellent photographs in darker conditions and may have specific modes for different types of lower light shooting.
- The exposure will be longer when shooting without a flash, so the camera needs to be kept very stable to avoid blur.
- Placing the camera in a stable position or on a mount such as a mini-tripod will help reduce blur and produce better results.
- Use the self-timer function to avoid jogging the camera when you press the shutter. Setting a short delay of around two seconds allows you to move your hand away safely and prevents the scene changing too much or people having to hold a pose for long.
Using non-direct flash in an indoor low-light situation can produce more natural results. This is where you angle the flash to bounce the light off the ceiling and onto the subject. While most compact cameras don’t allow you to move the flash or add an external one, you can still achieve this effect.
- Hold a thick piece of white card, about 10cm square, against the bottom of the flash at a 45 degree angle. This will help bounce the light, but the results may not be as good as a dedicated angled flash.
When shooting on a bright day, using flash can actually be helpful. If the background is much lighter than the subject, you can end up with a dark, silhouetted foreground. This can happen whether you’re shooting against sunny skies or indoors with people stood by windows.
- Using flash in these situations can make the foreground as bright as the background, avoiding any silhouettes or dark subjects.
Using these hints is just the beginning; there’s so much more you can do with your little camera. If you want to find out more, read part two of our guide:
Always refer to the manufacturer’s manual for specific details.