Thoughts About Digital Snap Shot

What is it that makes a good picture a great picture? For a run of the mill shutter bug like me, the answer can be summed up with three words, subject, composition and color; acronym SCC.

Unlike photographers of the late eighteen hundreds, today’s photographer has unlimited possibilities for a truly great snap shot. To attain this level, you must develop the awareness of an observer. The rule of thumb that I follow when snapping, “more is better”, you can never snap too many pics. Out of a hundred snaps, I can usually find two or three that make the grade for a great snap shot.


When shutter bugging be cognizant of smaller sections contained within the whole scene, a smaller section when cropped from the whole can sometimes make a superb photo. On identifying such a section, zoom in and snap away. If your digital camera is not equipped with a zoom, not to worry, the normal size pic can be cropped and enlarged with a paint program on your PC. For the best results set the camera to shoot super high quality JPG photos; on this setting the digital photo will not pixalize (degrade) as rapidly when enlarged.

People pics can be obtained in various ways, the standard posed portrait, candid photo and what I call realized or frozen moment snap. A realized snap is that instant, exceedingly brief instant, when the subject realizes she, he or it, is being photographed. The resulting photo, shot from the hip fashion without thinking on your part just reacting to the impromptu composition presented, is one of those rare instantaneous moments that can be frozen for posterity. I would say, always being prepared is your watch word, as you will most certainly not have this particular opportunity again.


Motion imparts the additional dimension of movement through time in the composition of a still snap shot. The quality of motion is therefore the most elusive element of a still and thus the by product of a large number of snaps, coupled with the luck of the Irish. To capture motion, click while trying different angles; a pro will run off hundreds of snaps with photographer and model in constant motion. I can not emphasize this enough, don’t just stand there and shoot from eye level, (“very boring”). Get down on your knees, stand on something, snap both landscape and portrait pics of your subject. The reason being, a landscape format will give a different compositional look than a portrait.

Numerous Renaissance painters arranged elements in their paintings to create a compositional pyramid, resulting in a stable composition. Modern painters like Jackson Pollock, relied on the overall pictorial pattern, evenly loading the painted surface to anchor the paintings composition to the foreground. I would humbly suggest trying both forms of composition. Keep in mind, that with a paint program clone tool, you can remove any unwanted elements in the composition.


Color is a very subjective component of a snap shot; strive to become a colorist of sorts and you photographic skills will be elevated. You say how can I accomplish this? My suggestion would be to look to the world of painters; this does not mean house painters.

To affect outdoor colors, I use a polarizing filter to deepen sky blues and significantly reduce bothersome reflections emanating from natural surfaces. When snapping shots in the desert, this type of filter is a must for me. Remember, you can always remove a filter to obtain unfiltered results; for the want of a filter a great snap could be mucked up.

On my very first photo trip to the desert, I was woefully unprepared for the lights intensity and forced to improvise, making due with my polarized sun glasses for a filter; this improvisation worked, just barely.

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