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Point & Shoot! A Guide to Cruise Photography

May is national photography month so what better time to dust off that old camera, learn a few tips and make sure your next cruise snaps are better than ever!

Since the widespread introduction of the digital camera, photography has become an increasingly popular hobby - and its easy to see why; no more expensive films, wasted photos or timely processing, todays modern digital camera allows even the most basic photographer to produce some pretty decent photos with minimal time, cost and effort.

But if youre looking for more than just some basic holiday snaps, and really want to wow your friends and family when you return from your cruise, check out our how to guide for photos that will make your loved ones green with envy!

First things first, you need to find the right camera for your needs. It can be more than a little confusing sorting through the countless options available from a number of different brands, each offering different features. So what are you really looking for from a good digital camera?

One of the most important features to look out for is the number of megapixels the camera has, as this will have a significant impact in the quality of your photos. Basically, a pixel is a dot, which collectively forms an image. A megapixel is one million of these dots, so, the more dots you have, the sharper and clearer your photo will be. Many people will go by the get as many megapixels as your budget can afford approach, however, this really isnt necessary unless you are looking to enlarge your photos. As a guide, 1 or 2 megapixels are adequate for a standard 4 x 6 or 5 x 7 printed photo, any larger and you will need to increase your megapixels to achieve a high quality result.

The second most important item on your digital camera checklist should be the zoom. You may notice that the camera has both digital and optical zoom, but its the latter you really need to consider. Optical zoom is a function that gives you the visual equivalent of moving closer to the subject, almost like a magnifying glass. The greater the optical zoom, the smaller the area that can be photographed. For example, a 2x optical zoom will make the subject appear twice as close. For general people photos a 2x or 3x zoom should be sufficient, however, whilst on your cruise you are likely to be taking lots of outdoor, scenery shots which is going to often require a zoom of around x5.

The final feature you are looking for in a good digital camera is a long battery life, as the very functions that make your photos so good are the same that will drain your battery life and nothing quite ruins a Kodak moment than a dead battery. If you find the power is ruining out a little sooner than you had hoped there are a few tips to prolong the life of the battery. One of the greediest power consumers is the LCD screen which is used to display your photos but can also be used as a viewfinder. Try using the actual viewfinder on the camera, rather than this screen to conserve battery life. Also, refrain from deleting photos stored on your camera, unless necessary to clear storage space. Those of you cruising to cooler areas should also bear in mind that battery life is shorter when taking photos in the cold. So, make sure you keep spare batteries somewhere warm, like in your pockets.

So thats your camera sorted, but unfortunately, having even the best camera in the world isnt going to guarantee you get perfect photos every time.

The photo doesnt really do it justice

It can be very disappointing when you take a shot of an interesting subject only to find the photo doesnt really do it justice. There are a few key rules that can be followed as a guide to prevent your photos looking boring, and will give them a more professional look.

The Rule of Thirds is one of the easiest and most frequently used techniques to create interesting shots. It is based on the idea that the human eye is naturally drawn to a point about two thirds up a page. As you look through the viewfinder of your camera, imagine there are lines dividing the image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, essentially dividing your image into nine equal shaped blocks. Now place the subject at one of the points where the lines cross, rather than at the centre of the viewfinder.

If the area of interest is a landscape shot, the horizon line should be two thirds up from the bottom. Alternatively, if the sky is the main area of interest the horizon should be one third up from the bottom, leaving the sky to fill the top two thirds of the picture.

Another way of creating interesting photos is to experiment with depth of field . A large cruise ship, for example, can be a pretty impressive sight, but a photo often doesnt show the true size. If you try adding other objects which lie between you and the ship, a tree for example, you may find your pictures appear less flat, and a lot more interesting to look at.

Your optical zoom can be essential in achieving the perfect shot, but remember, the further you zoom in, the harder it is to take a steady shot. Camera shake can make your photos blurry, so why not invest a few pounds in a mini tripod. These clever devices can attach to your camera to prevent camera shake but the best part is, they are so small they wont take up any of you luggage allowance!

Finally, after taking all these photos, you will need somewhere to store them. Dont rely on the internal memory of your camera as this is usually very limited. Instead, you can invest in a memory card which can store upto a thousand photos. Bear in mind though, that the more megapixels your camera has, the more space each photo will take up. So, as a rough guide, if you have a camera with 4 or less megapixels a 512mb memory card will hold around 500 photos, if your camera has 5 or more megapixels you are likely to be able to store just 250.

So you should now be equipped with all the knowledge you need to take some impressive shots on your next cruise, but, if all else fails, you can always take advantage of software such as Photoshop which allows you to edit your photos, you can even trim a few inches from your waistline if you wish!

Happy snapping!

Genna Roberts is web editor at Inside Cruise - an online cruise community packed with all the latest cruise news, features and reviews.

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