Spring into rich season of photography

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It's time to spring into action with your digital camera as the days are getting longer and the landscapes are in full bloom.

So grab your camera, iPhone or iPad and take the family outdoors to capture the Walla Walla colors.

Yes, I am including the iPhone and iPad this time as both now have cameras built in with sufficient megapixels to produce excellent photographs.

Today's column will share a few easy tips to better focus your camera, and I have selected a couple of scene modes to launch into the spring, but be sure to check over your camera first.

Last week one of my photography students brought her camera over to the house because she could not focus her DSLR. She said, "Everything blurred when she looked through the lens." So I turned on the camera and looked though the camera viewfinder eyepiece and sure enough it was blurry.

Adjust the diopter to see clearly

What happened was the camera diopter adjustment knob had been turned to the wrong setting. On most point-and-shoot, and DSLR cameras this adjustment knob is right near the eyepiece and on some models the eyepiece moves up or down to focus. Before you start to shoot, check the diopter knob for the right setting for your eyes. It has an adjustment range of -3 to +3, with 0 being nominal 20/20 vision.

Locate the scene mode

With the camera now in focus, locate the scene mode dial (shooting) on the top of the camera or on the back LCD screen, and rotate the command dial to find the following scenes: blossom, close-up and child.

Dial up blossom scene

With all the flower blossoms emerging, dial up "blossom" in the scene mode. In this mode you'll find the camera will adjust all the settings for a perfect landscape of colors using a small aperture and greater depth of field to keep all the garden flowers in focus.

Dial close-up scene

Now with the scene mode try the "close-up" or macro mode. This setting presets all the camera controls and is designed to let you take close up pictures of flowers and insects -- (ladybugs at this time of year) -- in your garden. Go outside and try this setting and I bet you will be surprised with the results.

Dial up child scene

Spring is a great time to get outside, and if you have young children at home try the "child scene" mode. I know several moms who are assembling scrapbooks of their growing families and will enjoy this camera setting.

The child scene mode presets the camera's settings to balance the need for saturating the children's clothes and any colorful backgrounds where the children are playing. The primary emphasis of this mode is making the child's skin tones look good and advancing the shutter speed to capture an active child playing.

Three tips when photographing children

Over the years I have photographed many children, so here are three key camera thoughts to consider:

Keep low on the level of your child's height and you will be amazed the difference of seeing your child at their level.

Place the focus on the eyes when taking children's portraits or head photos and do not forget to use the fill flash to fill in any shadows if the children are playing in a mix of sun and shade.

Take your digital camera out this weekend and try some of the these easy settings. If you are not careful your children will be taking pictures of you on Mother's Day and Father's Day.

Don Fleming can be reached at don512@me.com. Starting May 8, he will teach at Walla Walla Community College a five-week Quest program course, "An Inspirational Photographic Journey."

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