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Photo Basics

By TOMMY WILLIAMS / L’Observateur / September 14, 1998

Even though I own many expensive 35mm SLR (Single Lens Reflex) cameras, the camera we use mostly around the home for family snapshots is a Minolta Freedom 200, an automatic point and shoot camera. Although there are manycameras that are considered automatic, always getting good pictures from them are not so automatic. I was quick to notice two common problems withour photos: many of our indoor flash pictures were darker on one side than the other, and close-up photos were almost always blurry.

These are just a few of the problems that can be avoided by simply reading the camera manual.

In having light colored walls (near white) in our home, it didn’t take very long to notice that many of indoor flash pictures had one side darker than the other. With all the years of camera experience that I had, I was sure that onlyhalf the flash tube was firing when we were taking pictures. After carefullystudying the photos, it became quite evident that the darkened area of our photos had the familiar shape of an adult index finger.

Although I couldn’t determine whether the index finger in question was male or female, my wife and I spent a few minutes together reviewing the proper methods for holding the camera to avoid blocking the flash tube while taking a photograph, as illustrated by the camera manual. Camera manuals contain agreat deal of useful illustrations and specifications that can improve your photographs.

One very important specification that I, myself, had overlooked was the minimum focusing distance, which proved to be disastrous when taking close-up photos of our children. Minimum focusing distance refers to howclose the subject can be to the camera while remaining in focus. Everycamera has a different focusing range. Our particular camera has a minimumfocusing distance of 5 feet. Which means, I have to be at least5 feet away from the subject (or person) when shooting a photo if I want them to be in focus.

You’ll be quite surprised to find out how much valuable information can be obtained from the camera manual. So take the time to review your cameramanual when you first purchase a camera, and whenever minor, unexplained problems with photos arise, it just might prevent your photo memories from having a darker side or blurry past.

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