Speaking Volumes: Tips for taking better photos

Special to the HeraldJuly 14, 2013 

We have taken on the subject of photography in this column before. The first time was many years ago, and though there were a couple of ridiculously expensive digital cameras on the market at the time, the word "digital" appeared nowhere in the article. Fourteen years later, I penned another column on photography and remarked how digital cameras had come to dominate the market in a relatively short time.

The technology continues to evolve. Today, most people are carrying a camera phone that is capable of producing an image 100 times better than those first digital cameras. But just because your camera (or phone) can take superb photos -- are you actually getting superb photos? If you're not satisfied with your images, stop by the Manatee County Public Library and check out some of the latest titles that can help you to improve your photography skills.

"The Digital Photography Book: Step by Step" is the latest in a series of excellent titles by Scott Kelby. If you're intimidated by the idea of learning about f-stops and ISO speeds, Kelby is the author for you. He doesn't dwell on why a particular setting is appropriate for a given situation; he simply offers expert advice on how to set the camera to get the best results.

If you've ever come back from one of our wonderful local natural preserves and had a hard time convincing your friends that there were actually some critters in your photos, you might want to pick up a copy of John and Barbara Gerlach's "Digital Wildlife Photography." The Gerlachs have been professional nature photographers for well over 30 years and they can help you get far more impressive shots.

A common frustration for many people isn't their lack of ability to frame or focus a subject -- it's the lack of contrast or "punch" in the final image. There is plenty software available for fixing your photos, ranging from free camera phone apps up to professional packages that can cost as much as a flat screen TV. Nick Vandome takes on one of the most popular in "Photoshop Elements 10: Perfect Pictures in a Touch," to help walk you through the steps to bring out the best in your photography. If you're already getting "good" photos, a little bit of tweaking after the fact can turn them into amazing photos.

One evening, a couple of weeks ago, I spotted an interesting sight along the Bradenton Riverwalk: hundreds of camera phones held in the air, recording the Independence Day fireworks. How many of these folks would have benefitted from checking out Aimee Baldridge's "The Camera Phone Book: How to Shoot Like a Pro, Print, Store, Display, Send Images, Make a Short Film" beforehand? You'll never regret learning how to get the most out of a camera that you always have with you!

Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday.

Access the library online at www.mymanatee.org/library.html. Jonathan Sabin is the Information Specialist for the Manatee County Public Library System.

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