Simple tricks and advice from Tom Ang, author of How to Photograph Absolutely Everything..
The Picture: Fireworks
Your Mistake: Most people assume that because fireworks happen at night, the trick is to set a superhigh ISO setting to capture extra light.
Your Solution: Set your shutter speed to around 1/8 of a second, your aperture to 4 or 5.6, and your ISO setting to around 200. Also, since your camera can't focus in the dark, turn on manual focus and set it infinity.
The Picture: People playing in the sand
Your Mistake: Your camera sees sand and snow as very bright, so it automatically compensates by underexposing the picture, which makes snow look gray and people look dark.
Your Solution: Point your camera at the sky and press the shutter down halfway, to lock the exposure. With the shutter still halfway down, aim and take your shot. This has the added benefit of making the snow/sand look extra white.
The Picture: In front of the Eiffel tower
Your mistake: You back up- way up- to capture both the person and monument, but you can barely recognize him or her in the picture.
Your Solution: Stand far away from the tower, but very close to him or her. A larger aperture setting will make him or her and the tower appear sharp. Try setting it at 8 or higher.
Your Picture: A feisty shark in the local aquarium
Your Mistake: Your flash reflects back off the glass, and you can't catch the fish.
Your Solution: Take the picture from an angle. Any time you're taking a picture through glass or near glass, angle your flash so it bounces away form you, not directly back at you.
Your Picture: A play or performance
Your Mistake: No flash allowed so you go with a high ISo setting. But now your pictures prominently display your shakes.
Your Solution: Prop your camera on the seat in front of you, or use the built-in timer to prevent shutter-pressing shakes. It's important to start thinking of the shutter as something you squeeze, not jam.
Your Picture: In front of a beautiful sunset
Your Mistake: If you see the flash, it's overexposed. If you don't, it's so backlit that you can't make out a face.
Your Solution: Set your camera's "flash exposure compensation" to -1. You flash will produce a more subtle light.