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Good Holiday Photos Require Planning
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Capture those cherished holiday memories with a familiar camera, as first-time or once-a-year attempts can have disastrous results.
Jim Lytle, senior photographer with Mississippi State University's Office of Agricultural Communications, said many holiday photographers have disappointing results. Many common mistakes result from not knowing the camera well.
"Most people think they can just pick up a camera and use it," Lytle said. "That works sometimes, but you can take better pictures if you read the manual and fully understand the camera settings."
When a camera has not been used recently, inspect and test it before the holidays arrive. Check the battery and replace it if it is weak. Batteries should not be left in an unused camera for long periods as they can leak and ruin the camera.
"If it may be six months or longer between uses, remove the battery and keep it in a plastic bag in the camera case," Lytle said.
Clean dusty camera lenses with photographic lens paper. Eyeglass paper or cleaner can ruin the lens.
"Once you've checked the camera, take a short roll of film and develop it so by the time the holidays come around, you will know the camera is working well," Lytle said.
When taking pictures, there are a few pointers to follow.
"Look through the center of the viewfinder," Lytle said. "Many people don't center the viewfinder to their eye and end up leaving heads and arms out of pictures."
Another common mistake is standing too far away from the subjects.
"Fill the viewfinder with your subjects," Lytle said. "If you're using a flash indoors, you should be between four and 10 feet from your subject."
Using the flash depends on conditions, but is generally required for all indoor shots, Lytle said. However, since so many cameras are automatic, that decision is made by the camera.
If pets will be in the picture, take these outside in available light. Most pets do not like the camera's flash.
Even with an operational camera and an idea how to use it well, there is another option for people who want to ensure they record the event. When it's time for special pictures, don't hesitate to call in a professional.
"Hiring a professional is a more sure way of getting a good picture with everyone smiling nicely," Lytle said. "With self- timers, you really don't know when the timer will take the picture and you may not get the image you wanted."