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Tips and Tricks

Photography Tips

Everyone wants to take photos of their vacation. Well, it’s beautiful enough around here, that you might as well take GOOD photos. You don’t have to have an expensive camera and lens to do a good job. We’ve provided a few hints that, if followed, might make your memories brighter and clearer for you. GOOD LUCK and come see us at RedRock RV Park. We have thousands of photo opportunities waiting for you. Don’t miss our RV Park’s photo gallery, featuring more still images of the area around our RV Park here. Thanks for visiting our web page. Please tell your friends about us and come see us.

RedRock RV Park and the surrounding area provides some of these great opportunities for photos:

  • Wildflowers
  • Mountain Scenes
  • Storm Skies
  • Sunset/Sunrise
  • Rainbows
  • Moon
  • Henry’s Lake
  • Birds (swans, eagles)
  • Insects (butterflies)
  • Fish and Fishermen
  • People (kid shots)
  • Animals (moose, fox, bear, coyotes)
  • Pets (dogs, cats, parrots, Macaws)
  • Cows and Horses
  • Rodeo Events
  • Yellowstone
  • RedRock Lakes Refuge
  • Mesa Falls
  • Snake River (coffee pot rapids)

A few hints from our resident photographer – James Perdue

Bring your camera’s manual (print it off the internet if you can’t find it). Spend some time becoming reacquainted with some of the features of your camera.

  • Frame your photo: Make sure there are interesting elements and no distracting ones in your photo. Look in all four corners. Is your subject against a complicated background or another person behind them? If so, move a little to change it if possible. Use the ZOOM to isolate the subject.
  • Try to keep the sun behind your camera to avoid lens flare. Time your trips to interesting places to position the sun on the subject, not behind it. Use fill-flash on close subjects. If your children are posing in front of a lake, use fill-flash to brighten their faces and get the lake in good exposure too. Have them look slightly away from the lens to avoid red-eye.
  • Use the auto exposure modes of your camera. Most cameras have a dial for different situations. USE IT. It really will help. Use portrait settings for people close-ups, landscape, sports mode, etc. Read the Manual. It’s easy to do.
  • Use SPOT exposure mode to expose the most interesting objects properly. Use your camera’s spot exposure mode to point at the clouds if those are more important, or at your animal subject. It’s easier than you think.
  • Steady the camera. More photos are ruined by fuzzy focus than anything else. If the light is low, you can be sure you’ll need to steady the camera. Bring your arms in to your body and hold still. Use the 2 sec. timer to avoid camera shake when you press the shutter button.
  • Take multiple photos of the same subject as insurance. Digital film is cheap.
  • If you brought a computer, make sure you have a way to backup your digital film or bring plenty of it. Don’t chance leaving it in your camera for the whole vacation. You may lose or drop your camera but you don’t have to lose the photos too. Bring blank DVDs and backup the computer too!
  • Backup your digital film.
  • Early morning and late afternoon make best lighting. Use the natural color from early morning sunrise to late evening sunset to color your photos and cast long shadows.
  • BE CREATIVE. Again, digital film is cheap so you can experiment. Take the photo and learn from what it tells you. Use your imagination to make a funny or sad or tricky photo. Learn to use your MACRO capability for flowers, insects, etc.
  • Post Process your photos using a photo editor. GIMP is a free editor full of features. Most of all, crop your photos to remove distracting parts and adjust the contrast for better photos (Use auto-contrast). Have Fun and share them on the Internet!

Digital Camera Operation Hints

All digital cameras share many essential features whose knowledge will help you take good photos. Here are a few:

  1. Exposure – without good exposure you won’t get a good photo. Exposure is the measure of how much light reaches the “film”. Too much and it’s OVEREXPOSED, and too little you have dark photos and UNDEREXPOSED. Most digital cameras have an AUTOMATIC setting that will do it’s best to adjust the exposure for the entire scene. Many cameras also have a manual setting. (MAN) If you have time to set up your camera for the shot, try using MANUAL and starting with the F stop and Shutter speed (like F4/250) that the automatic has set (read this from the camera’s LCD display) and use the settings around those AUTO settings to try for a better exposure. Don’t set the exposure speed below about 1/60 sec though or you’ll get a blurry photo. If your camera has a SPOT exposure capability, try using it to take a good exposure of the subject. Point the center of the lens at the subject in SPOT mode.
  2. Exposure compensation. Look for the exposure compensation feature. Usually it has a +/- type icon. This will allow you to help the Automatic exposure. If the subject in your scene is darker than the surrounding, try adjusting the compensation for more light (+), and if it is lighter than the surroundings, try less light (-). A moose will need + adjustment, and a white pelican – adjustment.
  3. Auto Focus – most cameras will try to focus automatically on your subject. Make sure the center of your lens is on the subject you want in focus. Many cameras will allow you to hold the shutter button half-way down while focusing on the subject, then move the camera to compose the scene and then press all the way down. This will give you the best chance for a good focus.
  4. Presets. Most of the digital cameras today offer you a dial or digital display of pre-set exposures for various scenarios. Use them to get the best photos when you are unsure. For instance, use the RUNNER to photograph moving objects, use the CLOSEUP TULIP setting for getting close, use the star icon for night photos, use the LANDSCAPE mode for distant scenes, etc. Usually the icons are self-explanatory. Experiment with them.
  5. Self-timer. The self timer has two good uses. First, the obvious. Set your camera on a tripod or a rock and run to get in the photo (don’t fall). Make sure you focus in the same plane as where you will be standing, or on the person that will be next to you. Sometimes, it’s best to put it in manual focus mode, focus and then set the self-timer. The second use is to avoid the camera movement caused by pressing the shutter which is often the cause of blurry photos. Set the self-timer to 2 seconds and hold the camera as still as possible with your elbows at your side while the self-timer takes the photo. This will result in sharper photos when you have time to do this.
  6. Fill-flash. Look for the lightening bolt icon. It usually allows you to press a button to engage the flash day or night. Use this to make your portraits or bird photos better. Use this to elminate shadows on people’s faces. If you have a MANUAL exposure capability, set it on manual, about 1/60 and F22 then use fill-flash to take a wildflower photo. Try it. By the way, when using flash day or night, remember that it will not light up a moose from 50 feet away. It is usually good to about 10 to 15 feet, so for most moose photography, it’s not going to help you unless you are really brave and careless.
  7. Quality Settings. Most cameras have several quality settings. This is basically the resolution or number of photo pixels that each image will contain. Have it on the HIGHEST or BEST setting if you plan on making prints, esp. 8 x 10 or 5 x 7 prints, and on a medium setting for web use. Most cameras store images in JPEG format, and you might have the ability to set it at 50 70 80 90 or 100% quality. The higher the number, the more storage it takes on your storage card but the better resulting print quality (assuming the photo is properly exposed, and you didn’t shake the camera when taking the photo).
  8. Zoom. Many digital cameras with fixed lenses have a zoom capability. Usually these are two buttons next to each other with opposing arrows. No doubt you have found them for yourself. Use them to crop or situate the subject in the scene at the right size. If the subject is far away, zoom in. People or animals can’t be recognized if you are too far away.

Using your Smartphone or Digital tablet for photography.

Today many people are leaving their cameras behind in favor of using their smartphones or digital tablets for photography. In general, this is a good idea. Your phone is always with you and most phones have great quality for the main usage: sharing on the Internet. DSLR cameras continue to be best for quality large prints, but unless you plan to make large poster sized images, the smartphone camera is probably fine for most people.

Although most of the advice on this page is also applicable to smartphones or tablets, here are a few more ideas when using a smartphone as your primary camera. [to be filled in soon]

Additional Helpful Hints

These are merely a few features of the new digital cameras today. Yours may differ so, again, take the time to read your manual before you come and follow these helpful hints:

  1. Bring plenty of digital film and figure out a way to organize which ones are already taken. (Use a couple baggies marked USED and EMPTY maybe.) The amount of storage you use will depend on the QUALITY settings of your camera so there is no good rule to say what you need. Try bringing at least two extra 32 or 64 GByte cards with you on a day’s outing. You’ll need the large cards, esp. if you take much video.
  2. Clean your lens with a soft cloth from time to time, especially after visiting a waterfall up-close! Your finger smudges on the lens will cause blurry photos too. Use a lens cap or the built-in cover when possible to avoid scratching the lens and getting dust, finger smudges, and water on the lens.
  3. Bring extra batteries and keep them charged. Especially if you use flash much.
  4. Use a camera strap if you can. Losing your camera on a vacation can be devastating.
  5. Dump your photos to a computer when you get back to the RV so you’ll have fresh cards the next day and or upload your photos to a cloud service for backup. Bring a Flash drive and copy your photos to them also.
  6. If you have an DSLR type camera, bring a wide angle and a telephoto lens for best choice of photo opportunities. Be careful when you change lenses to avoid dusty areas to avoid dust on the sensor.
  7. Label your equipment with your name and email address or phone number so you’ll know it’s yours and you’ll have a chance of getting it back if you leave it at a restaurant or laying down on the ground somewhere.
  8. Take photos of your friends and family too. When you get the photos out to view 5 years or more from now, those will be the most valuable ones. You can always go back to photograph Yellowstone Falls again, but NEVER again will you have your grandson at 5 years old or your wife at 21!

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