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Your guide to digital camera scene modes

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Kids are fantastic photographic subjects. But babies and toddlers can be challenging to photograph for many, many reasons.


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First off, one should never use direct flash, especially from a portrait distance, because the flash creates harsh shadows, and may upset baby. Second, little ones seldom sit still long enough for you to compose a careful shot—unless they’re asleep. Finally, while all babies are beautiful, babies all look better when photographed straight on, or with their head at only a slight angle, instead of full profile.


Great baby pictures begin with good composition. In particular, watch the head angle. Next, use the Baby Mode if your camera has one. The Baby Mode will cancel the flash and boost the ISO so you’ll get good exposure, even if the youngster moves a bit. If you do not have a Baby Mode, be absolutely certain that the flash is turned off. Shoot several frames. Most babies cycle through an array of subtly changing facial expressions that are sometimes hard to notice, but become obvious when caught by a camera.


If you ever have the wonderful opportunity to photograph a newborn—one that is just minutes old—you may be surprised to learn that human babies are born with their eyes open. Be quiet, move slowly and enjoy a rare experience.


Want to learn more about scene modes? Visit the Canonical List of Digital Camera Scene Settings.

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