A Quick Secret to Better Photo
By Paul Krantz

If your digital camera has an optical zoom, here's a professional quick tip that will immediately improve all of your photos:

  • Set your camera's optical zoom to its widest setting and leave it there -- permanently
Three reasons this works

  1. The wider your lens setting, the closer you must get to your subject. This lends a sense of what photographers call "immediacy." In other words, you are drawing the viewer into the scene. (Just don't try to get 6 inches from your subject's nose, or you'll wind up with a very unflattering portrait.)
  2. The wider setting allows you to include more of the subject's surroundings, making it easier to use the photo to tell a story.
  3. Depth of field increases, meaning more of the image will be in sharp focus. A wider zoom setting also minimizes the effect of camera shake, so you can take better photos indoors with less blur.
Don't neglect the basics

To ensure a good photo, remember the basic rules of a good composition:

  • Draw mental lines that divide your scene into thirds horizontally and vertically and place your subject at one of intersections of your imaginary lines.
  • Keep the background as drop-dead simple as possible.
  • Avoid harsh lighting conditions. The best lighting comes mostly from one direction, but casts soft shadows.
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