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USER'S MANUAL

Take Your Best Shot

Disappointed with your digital pictures? These seven settings will help you get professional-quality photos from your point-and-shoot.
By Aimee Baldridge, Photographs by Michael Mohr, December 2008/January 2009 issue|
Panorama or Stitch-Assist Mode
Panorama or Stitch-Assist Mode
What It Does Creates a panorama of a landscape out of a series of pictures.
How After you take a photo of a scene, the image remains on your camera's LCD screen, enabling you to line up the next picture perfectly. Then, when you've taken all your shots and downloaded them to your computer, you can use an editing program like Photoshop Elements to "stitch" them all together.
Tips Place your camera on a tripod to ensure that your photos are uniform. And avoid shooting scenes with moving objects. You don't want to see the same jogger running through different segments.
Landscape Mode
Landscape Mode
What It Does Makes everything in a scenic photograph—from nearby trees to mountains in the distance—look equally sharp.
How The size of the opening in the lens, known as the aperture, is reduced to let light into the camera from different distances. This creates an even focus across the entire image.
Tips The setting is useful for more than just landscapes—you can also use it when photographing a large crowd of people.
Fill Flash
Fill Flash
What It Does Improves how subjects are lit in daytime photos.
How A flash fills in the shadows that are created by bright, directional sunlight to give people and things a more natural, even appearance. The extra burst of light also makes colors look more vibrant.
Tips There's a chance the flash could cause your pictures to come out overexposed. To counter that, some higher-end cameras have a soft-flash setting. Otherwise, hold a white tissue over the flash to lessen the light.
Macro Mode
Macro Mode
What It Does Focuses on smaller objects at an extremely close range.
How In this mode, you can bring the camera to within inches of a flower, an insect, or a seashell and completely fill the frame with it. The camera then adjusts the focus to allow you to capture the fine details you can't normally get in automatic mode.
Tips Make sure you set your camera on a pocket tripod or a flat surface—even slight hand movements will lead to blurry images. If you're shooting a flower or a leaf outside, do it on a day with little or no wind.
Tips From Photo Safari Experts
Even amateur photographers can take snapshots worthy of a travel guidebook. Five leaders of "photo safaris"—tours and camera lessons in one—share a few of their secrets with Elissa Leibowitz Poma.
Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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