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Photographing birthdays

 
  Whether it's baby's first, junior's sixth, or great-grandmother's ninetieth, these tips will make your birthday photos special.
Capture the emotion
Catch the grins, tears, surprises, and hugs that make for memorable pictures. Keep your camera handy and turned on so you'll be ready for those spontaneous expressions.
 
 
Show the candles aglow
To capture the light from those burning candles, turn off your flash. Hold the camera extra steady on a railing, the back of a chair, a table, or against a door frame to prevent blurry pictures. Or use a tripod, such as an inexpensive tabletop one.
 
 
Get close
Fill the camera's viewfinder or LCD display with your subject to create pictures with greater impact. Step in close or use your camera's zoom to emphasize what is important and exclude the rest. Check the manual for your camera's closest focusing distance.
 
 
Avoid red eye
Red eye is easy to remove these days with picture-editing software or at a Kodak picture maker. But why not prevent red eye in the first place? Ask your subject to look at your shoulder rather than directly at the camera. Turning on all the room lights also helps. If your camera has a "red-eye reduction" feature, use it.
 
 
Stay within the flash range
The typical digital camera flash range is 6 to 10 feet, up to 15 feet for film cameras. Subjects that are outside the flash range will be either too dark or too light. Check the camera manual and make sure your subject is within the flash range.
 
 
Take extra batteries and film or picture cards
Wouldn't you be crushed if your camera stopped? What if you ran out of film or filled up your picture card right at the crucial moment? The night before, check the batteries in your camera and snap a few pictures to make sure everything is working. Pack extra batteries and film or picture cards to take with you.
 
 
Use the display screen to be picture perfect
After you take a picture with most digital cameras, you can use the display screen to play back the image to make sure it looks good. Many cameras allow you to magnify this picture in the screen, so you can check for closed eyes or goofy expressions. You'll know right away if you need to try again.
 
 
Give the gift of pictures
You'll find many uses for pictures around birthdays. They make the perfect thank you card. Send Aunt Melissa, who lives hundreds of miles away, a photo card of Isabel hugging the teddy bear she sent. With a digital camera and an inkjet printer, you can even send guests home with a souvenir picture of the day.