Photo Opportunities

| December 12, 2008

Even with a disposable camera, you can take better pictures of your truck if you follow a few guidelines.

You may think that professional photos look better because of the equipment behind the photograph. While good equipment helps, the ultimate difference is the eye behind the camera and smart use of even basic equipment. Even with a disposable camera, you can take better pictures of your truck if you follow a few guidelines.

SHOOT AT THE RIGHT TIME OF DAY. The best time to take photos is before 10 a.m. and after 2 p.m. The mid-day sun is simply too bright and harsh. If you must shoot during those times, try having the subject in the shade.

WATCH THE BACKGROUND. Look for the least cluttered background. If you’re outside, the part of the sky opposite the sun is usually the bluest. If shooting people, make sure there are no background objects, such as telephone poles or lamps, that appear to be coming out of a person’s head.

GET CLOSER. Though you might want to include everything into the picture, such as an entire truck and trailer and background, doing that often forces you to back up and lose too much detail, or to settle for a boring composition. Take a photo way back, but then move around and closer to the subject for other pictures. Take detail shots, such as filling the viewfinder with your train horns or bumper.

WATCH FOR YOURSELF IN PHOTOS. Make sure you can’t see yourself in a mirror or bumper, or in the foreground as a shadow. And no stray fingers in front of the lens!

GET THE RIGHT ANGLE. Changing your perspective can lead to dramatic results. Squat down and shoot up, or find a higher vantage point so you can shoot down. If you’re photographing people, make sure you have them at eye level, especially kids.

TURN THE CAMERA. If you’re shooting a tractor-trailer, it’s natural to hold your camera horizontally, but remember to turn your camera vertically when appropriate.

HOLD IT STEADY. Keeping your elbows tucked into your sides will help you keep the camera steady so you don’t have blurry pictures.

KNOW THE LIMITS OF YOUR FLASH. Most consumer-level flashes will not illuminate anything beyond 10 to 15 feet. If you’re in a large, dark area, such as a parking lot at night, don’t expect to light a truck from the grill to the back of the trailer.

USE THE FLASH TO FILL SHADOWS. On sunny days, the flash can fill in dark shadows, especially if there is lots of sky or sun behind the subject. Without the flash, you’ll get a silhouette. You might try taking one shot with the flash and one without. If the surface of what you’re shooting is reflective, such as the side of a cab or a pane of glass, shoot at an angle or you’ll get a big white spot where the flash is reflected.

LOOK AT PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS. The best way to get ideas is to study good photos. Try to figure how you can take a similar picture.

LEARN ALL THE SETTINGS. Many people learn the simplest automatic settings but ignore other shooting options. Read the manual and learn what all the buttons and dials do. Many point-and-shoots have special settings for close-ups, pictures of people or other common photos.

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