Photo tips & tricks

With today’s technology, photo taking is easier than ever. Most adults and teenagers are closely connected to their smart phone, making it quick and easy to grab unforgettable photographs to keep forever. With the ease of photo taking, it seems many of us, myself included, have become lazy about properly filing and storing those keepsakes.

Find a way to quickly select your favorites

It’s a lot faster to pick the photos you like than to cull the ones you don’t like.

Store in multiple locations,including in a cloud (online)

For pictures you might access for multiple reasons, keep those on your computer, but also consider purchasing a dedicated external storage drive that you keep in a safe. In addition to both of those at-home options, you’ll want to also save your photos to an online server that is cloud-based. Many websites offer anywhere between 1GB up to 1TB of free storage. Dropbox is one of the most popular online storage systems in which you can store just about any type of digital files, including photos. Flickr is another option with the ability to share with your friends.

Find a photo editing tool

Even the best photographers with the most expensive cameras still utilize photo editing software. A good piece of software can help you crop, create collages, touch up faces and add effects like frames and graphics. If this scares you, don’t worry, there are plenty of options with step-by-step guides available.

Print with confidence

You wouldn’t prepare a nice steak in the slow cooker, so don’t go through the hassle of taking the perfect photo, editing and storing it properly, then printing your keepsakes from a big box store. If that’s your only option, know that sizing is important whether it’s a 4-inch-by-6-inch or an 8-inch-by-10-inch. Your image may be cropped. We like to use Mpix, based in Pittsburg, Kansas. It’s the consumer-printing arm of Miller’s Professional Imaging and uses the same printing technology for both their consumer and professional printing products.

Shoot and keep shooting

One of the great benefits of moving from 35mm film to digital is that it’s cost effective to shoot and keep shooting. There is no cost, other than space the photos take up on your phone or storage card in your camera.

Store the prints properly

The attic, basement or garage might be out-of-the-way places to store photos, but temperature, humidity, insects and rodents can all be problematic for your valuable keepsakes. Use archive quality storage containers, tape and glue.

Turn old slides into digital images to save

Don’t waste your money on a consumer-grade slide converter, but rather send the slides to a professional service. Cost starts at about $1 per slide depending on the file size. If you’re just archiving or printing small photos, the smaller file size is fine. If you want to print large photos from a converted slide, go with the higher resolution scan, which costs more money.

Buy a second battery for your camera

If you’ve migrated past using your smart phone to capture family portraits or landscape photos, do yourself a favor and purchase at least a second battery for your camera. Always keep your backup battery charged and ready to go. Many cameras have an auto-off feature that helps preserve your battery but it’s always good to have a spare ready.

Don’t be afraid to switch from automatic to manual

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Photography is all about lighting and don’t be afraid of crazy words like aperture, f-stop and shutter. After a little studying and a little more practice, you’ll easily see how they integrate together. Your local library has good resources for learning and online tools from YouTube to can be wildly helpful in your journey to becoming a better photographer. It’s OK to make mistakes because you learn from them. See above on the cost of shooting digital photos.

The eyes are the most important

If people are the subject of your photos take time to focus on the eyes. As long as the subject’s eyes are in focus, you’ll both be happy with the outcome.

Rules, rules, rules

Yes, photography has a ton of rules, like the rule of thirds, but also, as our kids might say “rules are meant to be broken.”

I love taking photos of food and that can certainly be challenging. Hot dishes create steam but let a cream-based soup sit for too long and it looks lumpy. My favorite subjects, of course, are my kids. We get lots of practice in low-light, fast-action settings for sports. My rule of thumb is that I am successful if I get one amazing shot for every 10 shots I take in this type of setting.

So grab a camera and capture your favorite subjects. Spring is just around the corner and there will be plenty of Earth’s beauty to inspire you.