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Taking Good Photos With Single Use Cameras

Tips for taking good photos with single use cameras.

Since 1986, the modern single use or disposable camera has been making photography accessible for more people and they are still an easy go-to when you want a camera on the run. They are the simplest camera you will ever use. Literally point and shoot. They have a viewfinder, a shutter button, a wheel to wind the film on to the next frame, and some have a flash. It doesn't matter if it gets scratched or thrown around because there's not a lot to break! No need to worry about loading a film, you just grab it and capture moments. So how do you use these little guys to get the best out of them? Here are a few simple pointers:


There is no way to change shutter speed or aperture with these cameras. They normally have ISO400 or 800 film pre-loaded in them, meaning the film is more sensitive to light which helps in lower light situations, and will also add a bit of that cool film grain to your pictures. But they need sufficient light to make an image. So indoors especially, make sure there is light on your subject, and not behind your subject (unless you're going for a silhouette of course). Outside, go for lots of light, but not too bright! Use open shade like under a tree or veranda, or in an alley way where the light is diffused.


Stand at least 1 to 1.5 metres away from your subject. Any closer and they will be out of focus. These cameras are focus-free after all!


There is no way to zoom with these little cameras, so the best way to get creative is to change your perspective. Move to find an artistic angle to make it interesting. Try the rule of thirds: imagine a grid in the viewfinder made up of 9 equal rectangles. If you move so that your subject sits on any of the points where the lines meet, you will create a picture that is more pleasing to the eye than a picture with the subject right in the centre.


Some cameras have a flash, but it is not automatic. To turn it on press the button or slide the switch on the front of the camera. It is always good to use the flash. If you're subject is too close to the camera though, the flash will 'blow out' the subject and you'll lose detail. If you're too far away, the flash will not reach your subject to light it properly. Between 1 and 3 metres from your subject should give you a decent exposure. Even outside in the sun, using the flash will lift shadows. If your subject has the sun behind it, use the flash to light it up from the front.


Since the lens is lower then the viewfinder, it is easy to put your fingers in front of the lens without realizing it. So remember to keep your fingers well away from the lens unless you want blurry pictures of your fingertips! And be careful to keep your fingers off the flash too. The result will be a dark picture!


Lastly, hold the camera with both hands. This will help you keep the camera steady for sharper pictures.

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