The dreamy colors and lighting produced by the digital SLR cameras really make my current low end digital camera jealous... However, it also comes with a very high cost, a starting price of $400 before tax...
I had the chance to borrow one from the architecture department in the past. Due to the $800 cost, I felt like I was carrying a fragile baby the whole day... technically not an ideal feeling
So for the people who can 0nly afford a regular digital camera or would like to make the most of the cell phone cameras, I have a few tricks that you could try to play with.
If you have a version of photoshop or photoshop element, then you can have plenty of fun with it.
There are some simple tricks that can bring our the colors and contrast from a plain digital picture.
trick 1. layers
This trick can bring out the colors in your picture
Duplicate your picture as a layer.
Go to filter -> Blur, blur your duplicated layer with any kind of filter you like
Go to the layer window, with your duplicated layer selected, choose soft light, and choose the transparency as you see fit
trick 2. image filters
If you noticed that in the pictures produced by professional cameras, the center seemed to be brighter and sharper than the surroundings. This could be easily achieved by the image filters in photoshop as well.
Create a layer with transparent background
click the option of filter in the layer window, choose the type of filter you like and adjust the transparency of the layer
trick 3. level
Go to image adjustment-> level, make sure that the color bar below the straight line is from white to black, and then pull the line to an "S" curve. The curvature will decide the exposure, and the hues.
If we don't have a wide angle camera, what do we do if there is a desperate need of taking a wide angle picture?
Maybe we can take an advantage of the image stitching software. There is an application in photoshop CS4 that you might find useful.
Otherwise, here is an application ,called auto-stitching, developed in UBC, and if you have an iphone, it is also possible to get one version from apple store. However, their demo version is only available for windows platforms.
Live with what we have
Start to check out all the "modes" you have on your family digital cameras, and play with them. It really can make a great difference from the plain auto-mode. I personally like to use the blue or green color mode, and soft skin tone mode.
When the light is too bright, the cheap way of getting a light filter will be use your own sunglasses!
Understand that our cameras can't really produce a lot of high resolution pictures, we should take an advantage of this..
With panning or rotation while taking photos, very interesting textures can be achieved.