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How to capture the best, most memorable vacation photos

Use these tips to take beautiful, memorable vacation photos.

BUFFALO –– When the time comes for that long-planned vacation, whether it be a trip to the Olympic games in London, a jaunt to a cabin on the shores of Lake Erie or just a week of relaxation at home, remember the good times even years after the fact with well-composed photos.

While today’s pocket-size cameras and smartphones make taking photographs easier than ever before, there are many techniques to use that will ensure photos look great, are memorable and worth keeping and sharing.

Many websites contain tips from professionals that will help beginners take better photographs.

Observe the rule of thirds

This practice will ensure the creation of eye-pleasing compositions. Instead of centering subjects, put important elements along the lines of an imagined 3-by-3 grid.

Placing items on these lines and the spots in which they intersect will bring more attention to the subject than centering it would.

Try placing several subjects on different areas of the thirds to create a more unusual photo composition.

Watch light and exposure

Avoid shooting into direct sunlight. Doing this makes the colors harsh, can wash out subjects, creates unwanted dark shadows and may make subjects squint into the sun.

For the brightest colors and most flattering lighting, it is generally best to take photos in the morning, after sunrise and right before sunset.

For pictures that must be taken in direct sunlight, try to set up the photo so subjects do not have to look into the sun and turn on the flash. Even in the daytime, the light from the flash will fill in shadows and produce a better exposure for more pleasing results.

Get up close and personal

Even though landscapes and panoramas can be beautiful, the most memorable pictures are sometimes taken not of an entire subject, but of a small area of it. Get creative and hone in on an intricate pattern on a door frame, dewdrops on a blade of grass, an interesting china pattern or a child’s eyes. Utilize the camera’s flower or portrait mode for sharper close-ups that utilize those tiny details.

When there is more than one subject in the photo, think about how to best arrange them for optimal interest. In particular, target a clean background: Cluttered backgrounds distract from the subjects, while plain backgrounds help emphasize them.

When composing your photos, think outside the box. Mix up horizontal and vertical shots, so the world you are photographing does not always look the same. For extra interest, try taking photos from above or below the subject to get an ant’s or bird’s eye view.

Add the pro’s touch

After returning home, use computer software to touch up those vacation photos for maximum results. Using imaging tools, fix flaws and adjust colors. Many computers come with this software and some cameras do, too.

Crop guides can help apply the rule of thirds, after the fact. Other features offer instant repairing of photos or the removal of unwanted elements, such as objects or people. Online tutorials can help with these techniques, as well.

Create the perfect shot, whether a portrait, group or vista, by combining the best from a series of shots.

Create a panorama by stitching together a series of both vertical and horizontal shots. Produce a collage by taking the best from several images. Recompose pictures to any size without distorting people or buildings, or go from landscape to portrait or vice versa.

Cleaning up flaws or enhancing images is also possible. Make skies bluer, eliminate red-eye and adjust color, contrast and lighting with a few clicks.

Share your work

Slide shows are one way to organize and show off photos. Photographers can also mix in a bit of video to take full advantage of a camera’s video capture feature.

Utilize photobooks, scrapbooks, greeting cards and calendars or print out photos at home to create a more traditional photo album.

The Internet offers many options to share photos. Friends and family can view vacation pictures on YouTube™, Facebook, photo-sharing sites and personal Web pages.

Take along the camera or a smartphone and plenty of imagination, have fun, experiment, get creativeand preserve lasting memories.

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