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by Michael Ayers
Do use the power of your zoom lenses! If you are across a room at an event, such as a wedding, a zoom lens can get you in closer to the action without having to run in and possibly miss the shot.
Do use a telephoto lens for portraits! A wide angle lens is often the worst choice for a portrait style photograph of a person or small group of people. It is much better to get a telephoto lens or use a zoom lens with telephoto capabilities. A wide angle lens will enlarge the nose of a subject and often stretch the proportions of a face or body to make the people look unflattering. A telephoto lens compresses the face.
Do use a macro lens for extreme close-up portraits! Sometimes just a photograph of the bride's earring, or grandpa's beard and smile, or a baby's nose, or even a child's eyes can make a memorable and spectacular portrait. Consider that the very best optics to accomplish this with extreme detail and controlled depth of field is a macro lens.
Do use a super wide angle lens to photograph large groups. At a wedding or family reunion, it is often necessary to get a large number of family members into one picture. Just be careful to compress all the attendees into just a few rows of people because those in the back may look smaller than those in the front row.
Do bounce the flash off the ceiling for a natural look. When taking people photographs, strong shadows and red-eye are constant problems. If your flash adjusts and can bounce off the ceiling, try it the next time the ceiling is a shade of white and is 8 to 10 feet.
Do eliminate red-eye by taking a second picture! A great trick for getting rid of red-eye is to quickly make a second exposure right after the first picture was taken! This gives the first flash a chance to make the subject's pupils dilate making the second portrait perfect. And with today's digital cameras, there's no waste in exposing another image!
Don't get caught without "fast" lenses in low light. A lens with a maximum aperture of around 2.8 is great to use in low light situations, like photographing during a wedding in a church where on-camera flash is prohibited. It's important to find a lens for this purpose that has a "fixed" maximum aperture and NOT one that varies (for instance, a zoom lens that is labeled f/1:2.8 would be preferable over a lens that says f/1:3.5-6.3).
Do use compact zoom lenses for vacations. A wide angle to telephoto zoom is ideal for traveling light on trips because it is possible to just bring one lens. My favorites are 18-200mm and 28-300 mm. These lenses both have a maximum aperture that varies as the lens is zoomed from wide to telephoto, but their small size and weight are great advantages.
Don't get caught without batteries! Use NiMH rechargeable batteries for uninterrupted power. Today's NiMH batteries are more powerful than ever in digital cameras which require AA batteries. They are inexpensive, long lasting, and charge quickly. And it is a good idea to carry a backup set of batteries and a small charger in your camera case.
Don't shoot without a lens shade! Many use clear glass UV or haze filters to protect their lenses in case of bumping them into something, but shooting through a clear filter can often be like photographing through a window. Instead, use the supplied hood or shade that was manufactured for the lens; it will eliminate flare in many cases and acts as a barrier against damage.