Compact camera tutorial

Tips and techniques with your compact camera

When photographing familiar places, it’s very easy to become blinkered and take the same photos as other photographers have done in the same place. This is often the result of arriving at a destination, seeing the subject in front of you and then letting your brain remind you of all the other photos you’ve seen previously.

Look for photo opportunities with your eyes before your viewfinder. It really helps to take time before you pick up your camera to study the angles and imagine an image you’ve not seen before. Try turning around, adding people or shooting at different times of day to add interest. Or why not capture a shot of other photographers photographing a famous landmark or point of interest?

  • Timing is key
  • Select a colour to include in your pictures
  • High dynamic range photos
  • Capture the crowds

Timing is key

familiar - Canon
The World According to Marty – Sun Setting on Big Ben

Sometimes famous locations and big events are so busy it is difficult to get a good picture. Choosing to visit at another time can pay dividends. Early mornings or late evenings are photographers’ favourite times to capture great photos. There’s a special quality of light that’s unique at these times.

In the early morning or in the late afternoon or evening, the light looks great but there might be a lack of brightness, so use a higher ISO setting. In low light, or in the morning, the Handheld Night Scene mode found on many cameras will assist in capturing pictures - even without a tripod.

Select a colour to include in your pictures

If you aim to make a number of pictures of a location it might help the whole set work as a story by including some common elements or colour in each picture you take. For example shots of London might include red buses, red post boxes and people wearing red clothes. Choosing a colour to include will then require that you look much more closely at the scene before taking each frame. Doing this will also force you in to taking different photos that convey your story of the location.

High dynamic range photos

Many PowerShot G series cameras can be configured to take high dynamic range images. These images allow the camera to capture great images of scenes where there are very bright highlights and dark shadows. These conditions can occur if the sun is behind the subject being photographed. For small subjects the camera will prompt to use the flash, but for a large subject such as a building, HDR is more effective. The camera captures a series of three pictures in quick succession with different exposures and creates a single picture that encompasses the wide range of tones. These kinds of pictures also work if you photograph from inside a room to the view outside. Typically the room will be much darker than the light outside.

Capture the crowds

Many people visit popular locations each day making them seem lively and busy. Capturing the crowd is part of the location. One possibility is to select a slow shutter speed, using the Shutter Priority (Tv) or Manual (M) modes on your PowerShot to allow the crowd to become a blur rather than rendered sharply. Some cameras have the option to activate a neutral density filter (ND Filter); this will reduce the light, which results in longer shutter speeds to capture the crowds with a slight blur.

Tip: Find somewhere to keep the camera steady so that the buildings are captured as sharp motionless items and the visitors and tourists are flowing through the picture.