Hot Photo Tips to Celebrate My New Book

by Derrick Story

I was flipping through the just-released Digital Photography Pocket Guide, 3rd Edition last night, and I thought this would be a great time to share some shooting tips.

Before I do, however, I want to mention that this 3rd Edition of my photo guide "hits the mark" that I've been striving for since I originally conceived this book. This time around we got the perfect storm... in a good way. Brand new design from Mike Kohnke and Marcia Friedman, tech review from James Duncan Davidson, gorgeous printing and paper (thanks Cambridge crew!), great editing from Colleen Wheeler, and on and on. This edition is improved in every facet, and the info is totally up to date.

OK, but you want tips right now (while you wait for your book to arrive). First thing, don't let your digital camera get too hot, as in the glovebox of your car. We've seen that hot image sensors produce more image noise. So treat your digicam with the same care as your film-loaded 35mm camera.

If you've made the switch to digital, and you're thinking about selling your 35mm SLR, be sure to hang on to all the filters, step-up rings, lens hoods, flashes, pouches, etc. I keep my stuff in stackable boxes that are marked on the outside. I can't tell you how many times I've found the perfect accessory in one of those boxes to tackle a job with my new digital camera. By repurposing this stuff, you'll save yourself hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars.

Get serious about portable backup solutions. There are many times when you won't be able to take your laptop with you. Check out devices such as the current iPods (color screen) with the camera connector, Palm LifeDrive, and other hard drive devices that let you offload your pictures and keep shooting. I prefer double backup myself, so I'll take extra memory cards too so I can have pictures on both the hard drive and memory cards. I try to keep them in separate cases as I travel.

Shade your lens when shooting in bright conditions. If the sun is shining directly on your lens, you'll lose contrast at best and gain lots of flare at worst. Use a lens shade, your hand, or a copy of The Digital Photography Pocket Guide to keep stray light off your glass.

If you want to shoot at high ISOs, such as 400 -1600, get the biggest image sensor you can afford. Small digicams are great for daylight shooting at ISO 100, but those little sensors create too much noise at 400 and above. You'll notice a big improvement just by stepping up to an APS sensor such as the one in a Canon Digital Rebel or a Nikon D50.

Keep a plastic ziploc bag in your kit. You never know when Mother Nature will rear her head and hit you with rain or swirling sand. A plastic bag to protect your camera is a godsend. And if you're shooting outside on a cold night, put your camera in the bag before coming back indoors. That way the condensation will form on the bag as everything warms up, not the camera itself.

And finally, take lots of pictures and don't forget to archive them. The joy of digital photography is the freedom to shoot, shoot, shoot. But also get yourself an extra FireWire drive, and backup, backup, backup.

More tips to come...