My cousin

We went for a sightseeing in Switzerland and I wanted to capture her adventurous spirit.

I couldn't get her in sharp focus. Also I feel, there is too much of greenery and less of her...I used shutter priority with speed -1/200

In the other one. I was getting her too dark in the shade of umbrella. When I used the flash - the umbrella behind just burnt out.

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The hills are alive with the sound of music..! I can hear it now. Almost.

Isn’t Switzerland stunning. Soaring peaks clear blue skies, sometimes, and cousins running all over the place. But how to capture it all?

This submission (no name given so I'm afraid I can't address you personally) is a nice couple of family snaps but in need of a little help.

Let's start with the first shot – the running around one. I think the poster has done well to select shutter speed priority.

For those who don't know what this means when you use shutter priority mode you set the shutter speed and the camera will automatically select an appropriate aperture to get the right exposure for the scene.

And if all this talk of exposure, aperture and shutter speed has got you scratching your head have a read of my page on understanding exposure.

In essence what the poster here has done is select a shutter speed that will freeze the movement of his/her cousin. But...1/200th of a second might not be enough.

If his/her cousin is moving quite slowly you might get away with it, if she is moving faster then 1/500th of a second would be better.

But I suspect there is something else here that is stopping the poster from getting a sharp photo – speed of focussing.

A camera will need a fraction of a second to lock focus on a subject. The better the camera the faster this is. Once focussed the camera then needs to take the photo. And with digital photography there is a lot of electronic wizardry that needs to happen.

Add all this up and you have what is termed "shutter lag". It's the time between when you press the shutter button down and when the camera actually takes the photo.

With good digital SLR cameras this delay is barely noticeable. With a cheap compact camera it can be over half a second.

My suspicion is that the poster's subject moved in the fraction of a second between shutter press and shot taken.

A way to resolve this is to "pre-focus". This means you focus on a point in front of your subject. Hold your finger half way down on the shutter to lock that focus point. Then wait for your subject to get to almost your pre-focussed spot. Then press the shutter button down all the way to take the photo.

And on to the second photo – the bleached out umbrella. This is a classic example of blown highlights. This is where bright areas of a photo are completely bleached out.

The reason for this in our poster's photo is that when the flash fires on a camera the shutter speed can only be so fast. Most cameras will not allow you to fire the shutter at speeds greater than 1/200th of a second.

This means that the open shutter is collecting light from the scene AND light from the flash. If the scene was already bright the end result will be blown highlights.

The solution? First, look for a "fill flash" setting on your camera. This fires a weak flash (rather than a full flash) and is designed to fill in the shadows in a scene.

If no fill flash is available move back a bit – this has the effect of making the flash weaker – and use the zoom to get close to your subject rather than getting physically close.

Hope this helps,

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Comments for My cousin

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by: Eric

Just a thought on the picture with the umbrella. Be a bit careful about proportion when shooting close subjects.

Parts which are close will look bigger than parts further away, This is emphasised when you are close.

If, for instance, you are 600mm from her knees and 1200mm from her face, then her knees will look unaturally large. They are only half the distance from the camera that her face is

If you move back a short distance you will change the relationship between the lens, her knees and her face.

Even going back another 1200mm means that you have changed the relationship so her knees are only 1/4 of the total distance closer to the lens than her face is and they will then look more in proportion.

Remember that it is the total distance from the subject that counts here. You can still zoom in, from further away, to frame the shot exactly as you did here, but everything will be in better proportion and, as a bonus, the fill in flash will be less likely to blow out the umbrella.

by: Spencer


Most things I would suggest for this photo have been noted above by Darrell.

However, one thing I would say is to fill the screen with your subject. Eyes shouldn't be hunting for what the photographer wanted us to see.

Try framing right up close, fill the viewfinder with her whole body, or even better her whole face! Then there will be no guessing as to the subject!

I hope this helps!

by: Anonymous

I will try again taking the shots and would post them soon..

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