Are you packing a camera in your holiday suitcase, or just planning to rely on your tablet or smartphone? Either way, I have some great tips to help you get brilliant summer snaps…
1. Work to a theme It could be a person, a colour, physical things such as ‘doorways’ or ‘signs’, or something more ‘arty’ – say, examples of nature clashing with the urban sprawl. You could snap plants growing up through cracks in the pavement, or trees juxtaposed against modern buildings. When you display all your shots together, it will have a more professional impact.
Girl About Tech recommends: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ55, £200, John Lewis
Use this camera’s One Point Colour mode, so as you’re taking your shot you can highlight one colour (for example red) and then capture everything else in black and white. It’s great way to take photos with a coherent theme.
2. Get in the right position Move around and try different angles to get the best background, avoiding any bright colours or busy patterns that could distract from your subject. Use a mixture of portrait and landscape styles to create interesting images and hold the camera above your head or low to the ground as well to create different pictures. It might help if your camera has a movable screen so you can do this and still frame up your shot accurately, such as the TZ55 (above) or the Olympus PEN E-PL5 with interchangeable lenses, £325.
3. Be at their eye level ’There’s a reason why people’s eyes are referred to as the “windows to the soul”,’ says Canon photography expert David Parry. ’They’re the most important part of a portrait, so it’s important to focus carefully on them. If you’re photographing babies or children, get yourself on eye level with them for a more engaging and natural picture.’
4. Zoom in It will blur out the background, so your subject stands out.
5. Don’t use the flash unless it’s really dark. Try to get by without it and you’ll be rewarded with much more flattering images without a ‘red eye’ effect. It is trickier to shoot without a flash in low light, as with less light entering the camera, the slightest wobble to make for a blurry shot, but a camera or smartphone with a good Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) system will help with this. You could also think about getting a small tripod for your camera to help hold it steady.
Girl About Tech recommends: Lumia 1020, £400, Nokia
Simply the best camera you’ll find on a smartphone, with a full OIS system that uses ball bearings and magnets to compensate for your shaky hands, so you won’t get blurry shots. The 41MP sensor delivers incredibly detailed shots, and you can adjust the focus, shutter speed, exposure, ISO and white balance like a pro with the Nokia Pro Camera app.
6. Avoid direct sunlight. You’ll get more attractive pictures if shoot in the shade – the light is less harsh and no one will be squinting.
7. Hone your skills with an app Canon and Nikon both have ‘companion apps’ primarily designed to introduce you to the settings of particular models and teach you how to use them. But even if you don’t have the kit, they are still worth downloading, as they’re full of tips for photographers of every level – for example, if you slow down the shutter speed of a camera, you can get some fantastic out-of-focus shots of cars, buses, bikes, lights and people as they whizz along.
Girl About Tech recommends: 1200D with 18-55mm lens, £350, Canon
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Download the dedicated app to get the most out of this affordable DSLR. It features some great video tutorials and step-by-step exercises.