West Fargo

My youngest and I were trekking across the frozen tundra on the edge of a recent day, when a mixture of fading sun, crisp snow, fluffy clouds and stars began to appear in the January sky. Joined by her smile, my thoughts turned to what has probably become somewhat of a nostalgic term ...“this is a Kodak moment.”

And of course, I had a camera with me, in the form of a high-tech mobile device. But I’m just not that adept at capturing such a scene on my phone. So let’s just say I captured “the” moment, but not “THE” moment. But I keep trying to improve.

If you have taken pictures or video of outdoor outings for any appreciative amount of time, no doubt this scenario has played out for you at least once, if not several times.

If you're like me, your reaction to such events is something like, "OK, I messed up that time. What can I do so it doesn't happen again?"

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The resources I often rely on for help are the folks who produce a good share of the images and video for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

For both photo and video, the No. 1 thing to watch out for in most cases is to hold the camera steady. Use a tripod, bean bag, or brace against any kind of solid object, and if none of those are available, just concentrate on holding the camera steady.

Here' some other ideas to consider:

  • Make sure the horizon line is straight. This is more important with video than still, as it's relatively easy to straighten a still image in the computer.

  • If people are your subject, in most cases make sure their faces are easily recognized and well lit. And have them take off their sunglasses so you can see their eyes.

  • When shooting video, hold a shot for at least 10 seconds, and slow down when panning or zooming.

  • When shooting video with a phone, hold it horizontally, not vertically.

  • Early morning or late evening light is usually better for filming/photos.

  • Good audio is important when filming video. If you're using a built-in camera microphone, closer is better and try to block the wind in some way.

  • Most of the time have the sun at your back, unless you want silhouette shots.

  • Try using a flash or camera light outside when your subject is in shadows.

I'll be honest. My images often don't turn out like I envision they will, but the nice thing about digital imagery is that you can view the image on the spot and make adjustments as necessary. Kind of like a mulligan in golf.

Unlike years ago, you don't have to wait for film to be developed, and once you have your digital equipment, shooting one or 100 images costs the same.

I'm sure some people reading this have never taken pictures on film, but trust me. For amateurs, digital imaging has made hunting and fishing "shooting" cheaper, less expensive, with a much higher success rate.