Change the Way You Use your Camera - Part 3 of 3

Part 3 of my guest blogger series on
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Part 3: Change the Way You Use your Camera

Now, let’s focus on some of the technical aspects of photography. Experimenting with the following settings in your camera will give you more control over your photos and limit the need for a lot of editing with photo software. During your practice photography sessions, you’ll want to be sure to take notes so you’ll learn what works best for your camera and lighting environment.

Auto Focusing
Using your camera’s auto focus is important for a clear image. Most point-and-shoot cameras focus in on the center of the frame when the shutter button is pressed down halfway. Use this to your advantage and point the middle of the frame to your focal point first, focus on it and while holding the button, swivel your camera up to create image to create the proper composition (using the rule of thirds) then take the shot. In macro mode, this will enhance the depth of field by making the closest focal point in focus and the background slightly blurry.

Auto-focusing tips:
  • ·         Compose your shot first and then move the focal point to center of the frame to in on it before you focus on it
  • ·         When you have the focal point in focus, swivel your camera up into the right composition.
  • ·         Keep your camera lens is on the same focal plane before you shoot. (In other words, moving parallel to your work is acceptable – moving closer or farther away from your work will ruin the sharpness of the image and make it necessary to refocus your photo)
White Balance (WB):  This is indicated on your manual mode screen with an icon that looks like two triangles with a circle between them. Refer to your camera’s manual to learn how to adjust the WB – each camera is different.

When you adjust the WB, you are essentially telling your camera, “This is what white looks like” within the lighting environment you are shooting in. This eliminates the need for expensive daylight balanced lightbulbs or using the camera’s guessing system (auto white balance) that can easily be thrown off by anything from an overhead light to the color of your clothing.

WB Tips:
  • ·         Point the camera at something that is pure white – like a sheet of printer paper
  • ·         If this still doesn’t give you the best colors, you can try adjusting the WB using an 18% gray card (available at camera supply shops)
  • ·         Hold the paper at the same distance from the lens as your objects will be for the best results
Exposure Value Compensation (EV +/-): This will instantly brighten or darken your photos within your camera and could further minimize the need for photo editing later. Refer to your user’s manual learn how to use the in-camera EV adjustment.

EV Tips:
  • ·         Some cameras have a built in EV +/- “bracketing” system which allows the camera to take three (or more) shots in a row. One set at a +1, one in the neutral position and one at the -1 setting.
  • ·         Take notes when you are taking these photos so you know what looks best when you are reviewing your shots.
  • ·         Your camera’s lcd screen isn’t the most reliable gauge of brightness, so take lots of different photos and then look at them on your computer.
The number one most important thing to remember:
Never, ever use your camera’s flash to take photos of small objects! Even with tissues covering the flash, the light emitted by your camera’s flash is too harsh to evenly light small objects. Instead, make sure you have plenty of ambient light and keep adjusting your lighting set up until you can consistently take photos without that little “shaking hand” showing itself on your camera’s screen.

Of courses, all of this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to small object photography. I encourage you to keep learning and experimenting with your work, composition and camera settings. The more you know about how your camera operates the better your photos will be and then one day you’ll find yourself actually looking forward to taking more photos of your work!

If you’d like to know more about taking great photos of small objects, please check out my new blog at (Launching January 2011) or contact me at for information on my Seattle area classes (Ask about my discount for etsyRAIN and Meylah members)! Thanks so much for reading. Happy photographing!

Extra special Thanks to the folks at for allowing me to repost and share this three-part series with you on!

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1 Response to "Change the Way You Use your Camera - Part 3 of 3"

Glenda said...

Thank you so much! This is the first I have heard of EV. It took me forever to figure out how to set it-turned out it is simple. Make such a difference!

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