Tech columnist David Pogue pulls out “The Best Photography Tricks of All Time” for anyone shooting digital, including the crafty use of a lampshade:
It turns out that the threads at the top of just about any lamp—the place where the lampshade screws on—are precisely the same diameter as a tripod mount! In a pinch, you can whip off the lampshade, screw on the camera, and presto: You've got a rock-steady indoor tripod.
His other tips—always half-pressing the shutter button to reduce camera lag, getting a limited depth of field, forcing the flash on outdoors, and exploiting the "magic hour"—are all good reading for anyone new to shooting, especially to memory cards instead of film. We thought we'd add a few of our own collected tips from over the years to round things out a bit:
- Exhale and pull elbows in for steady shots: Especially if you’re not rocking a vibration-control lens on a DSLR rig, this body-steadying practice can make all the difference for no-flash shots.
- Use the Unsharp Mask/Smart Sharpen for crisper shots: Photojojo explains how to use Photoshop (and similar photo editing tools) to get finer contrast on digital camera pics. Our commenters wisely point out, however, that the Smart Sharpen tool in Photoshop CS1 and later is the way to go.
- Deal with shooting in direct light: Because you, and your subjects, can’t always get up at the hour just after dawn, Digital Photography School explains how to work with, and around, a hard sun.
- Get behind something to shoot more candidly: As Rick pointed out (taken from Digital Photography School’s tips), it's hard to walk around with a lens pointed and not be noticed. For more candid shots, try shooting over someone's shoulder, or shooting through or around something that you don't mind being in the actual photograph for a voyeuristic effect—tree branches, window frames, and the like.
- Get a cheap, DIY lens hood or flash filter: A lens hood—like the kind you can print yourself—prevents glare, flare, and other light tricks beaming in from just around your lens edges. Similarly, a piece of white coffee filter can work wonders for diffusing your flash, giving bar shots and other low-light situations a much mellower light.
If you had only one tip to give a newcomer to digital photography, what would it be? Step up the chalkboard in the comments. Photo by ssh.