With more than a million copies in print, David D. Busch has been writing books about digital cameras since 1995. Along with the previous editions of Digital SLR Cameras and Photography For Dummies, Digital Photography All in One for Dummies, and Digital Photography for Dummies Quick Reference, David has written six Digital Field Guides on specific Nikon and Sony cameras, and Digital Travel Photography Digital Field Guide. He also holds seminars and workshops on rock concert photography, studio lighting, and travel photography.
Photography books by David Busch
David Busch’s Digital Photography Tips
One creative tool common to just about every digital camera – from the top digital SLRs to the most basic point-and-shoot models – is a zoom lens that lets you bring distant subjects near, fill your frame with small objects, or spread out to take in a panoramic view. These five tips for putting your zoom to work will help you take more compelling, inspiring photos!
1. Flatter (or insult) your portrait subjects.
An intermediate telephoto setting in the 85mm to 105mm range (or the equivalent) provides a flattering perspective for human subjects, eliminating goofy big-nose/tiny ears distortion that can come from shooting people up close with a wide-angle setting. If you want a comic effect, go ahead and use the wide-angle focal length.
2. Isolate your favorite subject.
Whether you’re shooting a flower, a pet, a lively child, or a prized specimen from your pewter soldier collection, step back, zoom in, and watch distracting backgrounds blur. Use aperture priority (usually represented by an A or Av on your camera’s mode dial) and choose a large f/stop (the smaller numeric values, such as f/4 rather than f/11.) Or select the Portrait scene mode before adjusting your zoom to a telephoto position. This technique works best indoors or when shooting in the shade, because reduced light levels make it easier to use a larger f/stop/aperture to reduce the range of sharp focus (or depth-of-field) and isolate your subject.
3. Get the big picture.
The wide-angle setting of your zoom lens makes close things appear farther away, so you can capture that panoramic vista in all its glory. When your back is up against a wall and you can’t step back any further zooming out can make your subjects “back off” to give you a more manageable and scenic view. Try to keep the back of the camera parallel to your subject (rather than tilting the camera up to photograph, say, a building or monument) to avoid wide-angle distortion.
4. Get up-close and personal.
You don’t need a special “macro” lens to capture breath-taking close-up pictures. Most point-and-shoot cameras focus down to within an inch or two of the front of the lens, often with the wide-angle setting only. The basic kit lens of a digital SLR may focus down to a foot–which can provide a close-up view. Or, invest in a filter-like close-up attachment (about $20-$30) for your lens if you want to move even closer. For most macro shots, you’ll want to increase the shallow range of focus, so use aperture priority and select a smaller f/stop (with the larger numbers, such as f/8 or f/11.)
5. Capture wildlife from a distance.
To a skittish frog, a human looming even a foot away is too close. Back up a little and zoom in to capture a wild creature from a more comforting distance. Or, use a longer telephoto setting to photograph deer and other truly wild creatures in their natural environment, or other interesting animals in zoo settings. For those with digital SLRs, an attachment called a teleconverter can magnify your distant image by 1.4X, 1.7X, or 2X (depending on the converter you purchase.)