Get great shots from start to finish. All you need are these tricks.

better vacation photos


Get great shots from start to finish. All you need are these tricks and the right camera.

1. Food:  Make sure your plate is smudge-free and place it by the window. Food photographs best in soft natural light.

2. From the plane: Avoid glare by turning off your flash and pressing your camera flush against the double-paned window.

3. Landmark: Keep the monument to the side of the lens, as opposed to the center, for a more artistic, less postcardlike composition.

4. Sports game: Stick to a sport with which you're familiar. That way, you can anticipate great scenes. For a crisp photo instead of a blurred one, press the "action" button.

5. Self-portrait (couple): Reach out as far as you can so your two faces have a backdrop. Shoot from above to avoid double chins.

6. Landscape: Keep the sun behind you and aim to shoot during dawn and dusk -- the first and last 60 minutes of the day are when the light is at its best.

7. Group shot: Be sure that random objects (like tree branches) in the frame don't appear to be growing from your friends' heads. If you're shooting eight or more, stand on a chair.

8. Sunset: Simply snapping a pic might result in a grainy photo. Let light in by increasing exposure, usually by pushing the shutter button halfway down, then clicking all the way. Never use a flash unless you're shooting someone in the foreground.


Some popular photo-sharing sites delete your pictures unless you make a purchase. Use one of these instead.


With free accounts, drag-and-drop organizing and a bustling online photography community, Flickr makes first-time photo sharing a breeze. Sign up with your existing Yahoo! ID (if you don't have one, it's easy to enroll) and start uploading pictures immediately. You'll have 100MB of uploads each month -- more than enough for weekend photographers -- and access to user-friendly tools for creating calendars and cards.


Picasa is Google's answer to photo sharing. Your free account will hold thousands of photos and offer one-click editing tools like red-eye reduction and image effects designed to turn gray skies blue or color pictures to black-and-white. You can map your photos, too: Tell Picasa where you snapped the pics and it'll display them on a Google Earth satellite map.


Facebook addict? Meet Photobucket. With one click of the mouse, users can post images to popular social networking sites. Just troll for an image you'd like to share --bor upload your own. Then click it and watch as it's instantly posted to a networking site of your choice (Facebook, MySpace, Blogger, you name it). One-gigabyte accounts are free and include videosharing capabilities.


You'll have to pay $40 for a one-year subscription, but you'll be rewarded with unlimited photo storage, advertising-free pages, full-screen Flash slideshows and personalized galleries created with themed templates (try it free with a 14-day trial). Your subscription includes customer service -- a luxury virtually impossible to find on nonpaid services.