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Tips for Taking Better Vacation Photos

Photos are a great way to share your travel experiences with family and friends. Here are a few suggestions to help you capture vacation memories you will treasure for years to come.

PLAN AHEAD

Make sure your digital camera is in good working order before you go, and keep it in a water- and shock-resistant case. Bring two sets of rechargeable batteries and don't forget the charger and relevant cords. Make sure your camera has enough memory. Packing an extra memory card is wise, as there is nothing worse than running out of room for pictures halfway down the Grand Canyon. It may be tempting to lower the resolution so you can store more pictures, but you will regret this later as it may result in poorer quality prints, or you will be limited to smaller size prints. Set your camera at its highest quality JPEG setting and get more memory if you have to. You will appreciate this when you're viewing and printing your photos after your trip.

TAKE LOTS AND LOTS OF PICTURES

With a digital camera you can always erase the photos you don't want. Take pictures of anything you find interesting and try to focus on some of the details such as an attractive doorway or a colorful market, not just panoramic scenes or major landmarks. Let your pictures tell a story by creating a visual diary of your trip. Include street scenes, interesting signs, people you see along the way. For variety take both vertical and horizontal pictures.

READY FOR YOUR CLOSE-UP?

When taking people shots, don't make the mistake of standing too far away. You want to be able to recognize the people in your photos. Get close enough so you can see the expressions on your subjects faces. Zoom in on individuals or capture them from the waist up. Pictures are often more interesting when you can catch people at candid, un-posed moments. In posed photos, try to incorporate some of the background into your shot. Try snapping from interesting angles rather than simply head-on.

USE YOUR FLASH

When photographing in bright sunlight, setting your camera's "fill" or "forced" flash is very helpful, particularly when photographing people. Brilliant sunlight often makes people's faces look harsh, casting dark shadows under the eyes and accentuating wrinkles. The daytime fill-in flash will soften the lighting and make the images more flattering. Your family and friends in the photos will thank you!

EDIT AND ENHANCE YOUR FAVORITE SHOTS

When you get home you can edit, crop and enhance your favorites using photo editing software such as Foto Finish, Ulead or Photoshop Elements. Consider adding drama to your images by turning some of your color photos into black and white or sepia tones and then upload all your images to an online photo printing service like Ofoto or Shutterfly for fast and convenient prints. You can take your best snaps and use your photo editing software to create a photo calendar or make photo cards for personal notes, or to email your favorites to family and friends.

Most of all have fun with your camera!

Valerie Goettsch publishes the digital photography website http://www.digitalphotos101.com featuring reviews of photo editing and album software and digital photo printing services.

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