Thursday, September 1, 2011

4 Reasons Your Pictures Are Horrible

So you just bought that new camera and you're so excited to test it out. So you tell your friends to go hang out with you at the mall, and you proceed to take a few pictures as you run around without a care in the world. By the end of the day, your memory card is full and you're hyped up to see your pictures. You plug the USB cord in the computer, and look at your pictures. A small tear flows out of your eyes as you see consistently under-exposed and mysteriously colored pictures. Obviously, you bought the wrong camera right?

For the most part, the end result of a picture is more determined by the photographer, not the camera. You can blame that camera for being bad all you want, but at the end of the day, it's your fault.

Then again, it might be time for a replacement.

5. Poor lighting

Despite what you expected when you bought that new camera, your camera is not a magical device that makes everything look good. One of the most common mistakes is lack of lighting. People don't readily notice the lack of lighting in till after the picture is taken thanks to their eyes. That's right, you can't even trust your eyes.

The truth is, you have no eyes.

Your eyes are one of the most complex things in your body, with all the cones and rod giving you vivid images of the surrounding world and such. Since your eyes are really good at perceiving light, everything can appear bright and jolly.

Your camera however may have a small sensor, poor lens, poor software design, or simply bad hardware. The result is a under-exposed image. The area is too dark for a proper image to capture all the details in the frame. People usually experience this problem in-doors using "natural sunlight". Since we're used to the natural sunlight lighting our way around the house, we expect the camera to pick up ever single detail in the room. But it simply cannot. The result is the software boosting the ISO, which increases graininess. Picture grain is basically the muti-colored dots appearing everywhere in your pictures. Without proper lighting, you'll have pictures that makes everyone look like ghouls, with rainbow colored pixels everywhere.

Pictured: Your friends with bad lighting

In order to fix this, you should increase the light around the area. Some cameras include flash, use it. If possible, turn on some lights even if it feels bright in the area. Or, simply realize you're not the expert photographer you thought you were.

4. Camera Shakiness

One problem with many pictures are, you can't tell the difference between Uncle Tim and a square blob of colors and shapes. The reason for this isn't because you got a faulty camera. As described before, you shouldn't be running around in careless joy taking pictures. Being hyped up to the point of your hands shaking and/or running sixty miles per hour while trying to take a picture will result in multiple streaks of color in your resulting picture.

Pictured: ?!

Chances are, the camera you hold in your hands wasn't made to take sports photographs at 1 picture every 0.0000000000001 of a second. Even if you're not running around as fast as a horse or cheetah, problems are still insured. If you're used to sticking both your hands out completely to take a picture of your friends posing next to a statue, then you're in the improper stance. That's right, there are stances for taking pictures.

Not as cool as other stances however.

Instead of sticking your arms out like Billy the Goat, keep your arms tucked into your body. That way, you reduce the amount your arms sway around. With your arms sticking out, gravity, wind and even your general tiredness, can result in your arms moving about like a frantic mouse.

Even holding your camera up with the proper arms, standing up and straight can still give you a shaky picture. Despite what you think, you are not standing completely still. You are actually swaying back and forth, left and right very slowly. To fix this, you can try to sit down, or lean against something. But it's very hard to completely remove the swaying without using a tripod.

Another common problem is when you press your "take picture" button. Letting go of the button may result in a slight shaking of the camera, which can result in a minor shake in your picture. To fix this, you can hold the button down and wait for a few moments, or simply squeeze "gently".

The final most common mistake related to shakiness, is moving the camera away the instant you press the button. Some people forget that the camera doesn't have magical elves sitting around that paint a picture after looking at the lens for a brief second. After taking a picture, hold the camera still for a few more seconds to allow the camera to take a full picture. Moving it away as if you're some secret agent taking spy pictures without getting caught will result in blurry pictures. What type of secret agent takes blurry pictures right? Be smart, and spend a extra second taking the picture.

3. Using Digital Zoom

Does your camera boast 5X digital zoom? Oh snapple crack, right? Now you can get even closer to the image right? Actually, no. Digital zoom is one of the worst things that can happen your pictures, other than them instantaneously catching on fire.

Digital zoom, isn't true zoom. What your camera does during digital zoom, is take your image, and stretch it out. It may remain the same "megapixels" but the more you "zoom in", the more horrible the image becomes. Why? Since the image isn't actually being zoomed in, and is being stretched out, the image beings to show what it really is made out of. Pixels.

Wow, that's beautiful.

The result from digitally zooming in, is seeing squares of color that loosely look like the original picture. It's like cutting a fat juicy piece of chicken, then pounding it a centimeter thick, and expecting it to be delicious.

2. Not Waiting For Auto-Focus

Focus on a camera determines what is sharp detailed, and what is blurry and lame-sauce. Thankfully for all of us, our eyes have built in top-notch organic focuses. However, cameras lack these magical organic auto-focuses. The software and the camera lens need to work together to determine what to focus on, and to actually focus on it.

If it was focused, you would see things that you would want to un-see.

The result is 5-60 seconds of the camera trying to focus on what you're pointing it towards. Many people aren't patient, and point and shoot instantly. Unless you have a 500-10,000 dollars SLR of some magical sort, don't expect to be able to run and shoot pictures. Before pressing the "take picture" button, wait for the square box to turn green, indicating focus. If your camera doesn't have a box, look at the "viewfinder" and wait in till the subject looks sharp.

1. White Balance

After following all of the above tips, you may still find yourself with a problem. All your images have a strange yellow or blue hue to them. For some reason, that red flower you saw at your friend's house is suddenly washed out and "blue-ly". Perhaps the magical elves inside the camera need more red paint?

Or maybe they need some more motivation.

If you want to capture the essences and beauty of a forest path, you must set proper white balance. What white balance is, is what your camera decides is pure "white". Proper white balance will allow your camera to take pictures with colors true to the real-life counterpart. All camera's have preset white balances, such as "Sunny", "Cloudy", and "Fluorescent".

The reason that images appear to have different colors or such, is because the the lighting creates its own hue of color, even if you cannot notice it readily. The camera picks it up, and suddenly thinks that the flower is actually purple. It's like that time you were in the gym with yellow lights, and your red shorts appeared orange.

Remember that time green was blue, and yellow was tomatoes? Good times.

You can simply change the settings to match your real-life settings. If the image is still too "red" or too "blue", you might have to use the manual white balance setting. With his marvelous setting, you can set the white balance yourself. The general idea is to find the most whitest item you've ever seen in your life, and point the camera at it. The camera will accept that color as "pure white" and place all the other colors accordingly. The whiter the object is, the closer to the correct colors the camera will be.