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Computer Care: Work to make your digital photos look even better
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If you’ve ever posted photos on the Internet, whether on Facebook, eBay or attached one in an e-mail, then here are some ways to make the next ones better.

Even the simplest camera can yield good results. The trick to quality pictures is with the photographer, not the camera.

Those little cameras don’t have great optics, but you can still get a good image from them, especially if you’re only viewing it online.

When printing, you need more pixels — a better resolution. You want at least a couple of megabytes. For online viewing though, an image as small as 100kb is sufficient.

Also, you want to avoid making those who view your photos online having to endure a long download or having to scroll and scroll because you made it too large.

Whether you’re shooting a person or an object, consider the light.

Generally, you want the light source over your shoulder when taking photos. If it is behind the subject, your subject will be in the dark.

Don’t be afraid to use a flash outside during the day. You can easily override the camera’s automatic setting. Keep in mind that a flash will become ineffective after about 8 to 10 feet. Too close though, and you’ll wash out the subject and get hot spots.

When shooting at or through glass, remember what we learned in school.

The angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection. Stand at about a 45-degree angle to the subject to reduce glare.

If you shoot straight at it, the flash will bounce right back into the lens, ruining the picture.

Before you press the shutter release, scrutinize the picture you are about to take.

If it is a person, is there a tree or telephone pole coming out of their head? Either change your angle or move the person if there is.

Is it in focus? I’ve seen more good pictures that were blurry.

With most of today’s cameras, if you press the shutter release button halfway down while on the subject, it will focus it for you.

You should also get as close as possible to your subject. Sure, you can always crop it later, but still get close. Their faces will have a better exposure if you do.

Take more than one shot; lots more. It’s not like it costs anything. Try different angles; try it with and without a flash. It’s good practice to take lots more than you need.

This way you’re guaranteed at least one good one. Exposures might be off or eyes may be shut. There are also funny faces or out of focus shots to consider.

If you are shooting something small and your camera lacks a macro mode, try shooting through a magnifying glass.

This could come in handy if for example you’re putting a ring for sale on eBay or Craig’s List. Just beware of the glare on both the object and the glass itself. Auctions are always better with a few pictures.

If possible, use a tripod. Alternatively, put the camera on a table, rock, tree stump or whatever. Even digging your elbows into your ribcage will help steady the shot somewhat.

After the picture-taking process is finished and you’re back at your computer, use your software to do some real editing.

Whether with Photoshop or the free application that came with the camera, you can tweak the image to make it better.

Don’t just crop it — and most images do require cropping. Consider adjusting the brightness, contrast or gamma settings.

Many photo apps will have an “instant fix” button to click on. This way you don’t have to mess with all the tools manually.

Get rid of red-eye while you’re at it. Some cameras have a dedicated flash setting for it. By eliminating red-eye, it is one less thing to worry about in the editing phase.

Now’s the time to reduce the photo’s size, unless you plan to print it.

You can add finishing touches like a box or a frame around your image. Give it a 3-D effect by placing a shadow behind it.

Remember – and this is a big one — never make changes to the original photo.

Use the “Save as ...” option and create a secondary image. This way if you mess up a photo while experimenting, you can always start all over again from the original.

If after all is said and done, and you’re not happy with the final results, don’t settle for garbage.

Take another series of shots. It’s not like you have to pay to get them processed.

Take the time to compose and set up quality shots. Spend a little more time in your “darkroom” tweaking the photos.

It’s a creation of yours; take pride in it, whether your camera is a high-end digital SLR or just your cell phone.

You’ll feel good when that online item sells because of the photos you included or your friends leave you positive comments on the Facebook album that you posted.

Arthur Glazer is a freelance writer and computer technician in Gainesville. His column appears biweekly. Arthur welcomes your computer questions and ideas for future columns.