A case of the dreaded 'red eye? An unwanted photobomber getting in the way of your view?
We've all had disappointing holiday snaps in the past, but in the digital age and with the advent of social photo sharing, there’s now no excuse to come back from your summer holiday without an impressive set of photos to upload or print. Here are a few hints and tips to help you make the most of your pictures:
Beach or Snow: The in-built light meter in your camera will attempt to get rid of bright glaring surfaces like snow and sand, and will try to make them a ‘mid tone’, resulting in grey, underexposed pictures. You can counteract this with the most simple mobile phone cameras.
Point your camera at a darker area, so it fills the screen, then half depress the shutter to set the camera’s exposure reading (sometimes you can tap your touch screen to do this if you have one). Without removing your finger from the button, move the camera back to your bright subject to frame your shot and then fully depress the shutter button to take the picture.
Sunny days: Having bright sun behind your subject can cast a shadow over their face. Use your camera’s flash to fill in dark areas (if you have an advanced compact camera or an SLR, you may have a fill-in flash function which is a gentler flash designed just for this purpose, or simply cover half of your camera’s flash bulb with a finger).
If your subject is squinting into the sun, get them to slap on a hat for some instant shade, and a more natural pose.
Capture the action: Familiarise yourself with the different shutter speed settings on your camera. Slower speeds will blur motion (and you’ll need to support your camera – see the Night Time point below). Use fast shutter speeds for freeze-frame splashes and jumping.
Night time: For bars and restaurants, it’s easier to use your camera’s ‘party’ or ‘indoors’ setting. Take fabulous outdoor shots with longer exposure (lower shutter speed numbers up from 45’ (1/45th of a second) up to a minute or longer - moving people become ghostly images, car lights become neon streaks)
There's no need for a bulky tripod - you can balance and angle your camera on a surface nestled on a scarf, or invest in a gorilla pod (a bendy mini tripod that can grip poles and branches).
Composition: A good rule of thumb is to use the ‘rule of thirds’. Imagine your screen is divided up into a grid of thirds (like a noughts and crosses board) and have the main focus of your picture on one of the lines, or where they intersect, and line up horizons with the bottom or top grid lines.
Standing in front of stuff: If you want to get a large object, building or view in shot, don’t send your travelling companion off into the distance to stand next to it where they’ll look lost – keep them in the foreground and slightly to one side, then take a portrait shot with your view behind them.
The best tip we’ve ever received was: Don’t come back with lots of boring shots of scenery. Get your friends and family in the picture and you’ll want to look at your photos again and again. Leave the landscapes for truly amazing once-in-a-lifetime views and you’ll value them more.
Tell a story: To really capture the feel of your trip, try telling a story with your pictures. Keep your camera to hand, ready to snap a street scene or an interesting detail on a building. If you've heard about garden gnomes going on holiday and sending back candid pictures of their travels, why not try to include a favourite toy in the picture – great for keeping the kids entertained or just for a bit of fun.
If all else fails - Photoshop: There is a reason why Photoshop was invented. Henri Cartier Bresson may have waited hours for just one perfect shot (his ‘decisive moment’), but most of us want to just get on with enjoying our holiday. If you’re not too confident in Photoshop, try a simple app like Remove, or try Instagram.
Image credit: Flickr/Mac Qin