Focusing properly with a point and shoot camera can be tricky. Especially when what you are photographing is not in the center of your shot. To get a point and shoot to focus on the correct subject, center the subject in the viewfinder and then press the shutter halfway down. Most cameras will beep or a light pops on letting you know that it is ready to take the picture. Keeping that shutter pressed halfway, move the camera to compose the shot you would like to take, and press the shutter the rest of the way in. This allows you to create interesting compositions with the subject still in focus.
Turn the Flash Off
Using a point and shoot in automatic mode means that the flash will fire when the camera decides you need more light. But using a flash can leave your subject looking washed out by removing all of the shadows. Turn your flash off whenever it is possible. Use natural light by opening windows or moving your subject into better light.
The lack of light will increase the chance that your photograph will be blurry due to slower shutter speeds. It is impossible to hold completely still, and the camera can pick up these tiny movements when the shutter is open longer. You can avoid this by using a tripod or placing it on a sturdy surface and also using your camera’s timer function. Using the timer will keep the camera from moving even a tiny bit when the shutter is pressed. This technique will work well for subjects that are still. Action shots will require a lot of light or they will be blurred.
Practice Using the Advanced Settings
Shutter Priority Mode (usually indicated with a “S”)
This allows you to pick the shutter speed, and the camera will choose the appropriate aperture. Have you seen pictures of streams and waterfalls where the water looks blurred, but everything around the water is in focus? This is a beautiful technique achieved by using a tripod and adjusting the shutter speed so that it is open longer. Anything that is moving, such as the water, will be blurry. One of the great things about digital photography is the photograph is displayed on a screen for you, so you can experiment and see the results right away. Try setting up a tripod and taking a dozen shots with different shutter speeds.
Aperture Priority Mode (usually indicated with an “A”)
This allows you to pick the aperture setting, and the camera will choose the appropriate shutter speed. Aperture controls the amount of light let into the lens. If it is really bright out, you need to have a smaller opening. If it is darker out, you will need use a bigger opening to let in more light. Aperture settings are indicated with f-stops. The larger the f-stop number, the smaller the aperture opening.
Aperture can be quite confusing and overwhelming to understand, but practicing with it will prove to be quite rewarding. Adjusting your aperture can also affect your depth of field, and can create some amazing photographs. Those photographs you see where the subject is in focus, but the background is blurry are achieved by adjusting the aperture. Put your camera in aperture mode and take several photographs of the same subject, going through all of the aperture settings to see the differences. You may be surprised by the results!
Read Through Your Owners Manual
Every camera has different bells and whistles. To truly understand what your camera is capable of, read the owner’s manual. If you no longer have the manual, look it up online. Manuals are almost always available in PDF format for downloading. If you have a smart phone that will open and store PDF’s, I recommend downloading the manual to your phone as well. You never know when you will be out in the field and want to remember how to use one of those special settings on your camera.
You don’t need a fancy SLR to take great photographs! Learning about your camera and what it can do will open all kinds of opportunities with your photography.