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About digital photos and your camera

Elvis Elvis

Well, you’ve finally got a great digital camera that you like, and now you want to get tuned in to great nature photography.

First of all, an important caution!

One of the great advantages of using a digital camera is the opportunity to take an unlimited number of pictures.  The kicker is, you need to have a sufficient amount of storage capacity to do it.  The size of the storage media or card you have will determine the number of pictures you can take.

Don’t go cheap!  Buy more than one memory card. The insurance is well worth the minimal cost.

I guarantee you’ll run into trouble if you don’t.  For instance, a man walked into his local box store and asked for a copy of each of the 10 prints he had on his card (true story).  The customer copied the image data into the printer’s storage area and then immediately erased his image media so he could reuse the space for more pictures and left the store.  To the store’s credit, there was a sign posted on the customer terminal advising against erasing digital media before the pictures are printed.  It was obviously ignored.

In the meantime, one of the less experienced lab operators inadvertently erased the printer’s storage area and the pictures were irretrievably lost.

This man had traveled over 250 miles to get this series of pictures and he had to go back again to do it all over because he was too cheap to spring for another $30 card.  Needless to say he wasn’t happy.

Okay, back to pictures…

This is pretty well a never-ending topic.  We can start our discussion by asking a question…what is it you want to accomplish?  You need to have a goal if you’re going to get what you want.  Once you’ve made this decision, you can start the creative process.

About digital photos and your camera

For purposes of this discussion, I’m going to assume that you, like a lot of other ‘weekend warriors’ are out to create something you can show family and friends and maybe even put on a photographic feature wall in your home.  You may even want to submit one of your better creations in a photo contest.

Even if you don’t win, it’s a real hoot seeing your work on display somewhere.  There’s a lot of good contests on the Internet these days and if you enter one or more of these, your photography will be seen by people all around the globe.

Okay.  Pick a subject.  Odds are you have something very near your home that will make a good photographic subject or maybe even a photo essay.

Municipal parks can give you a never-ending supply of items you can feature in macro (extreme close-up) shots.

Years ago I took a group of my students on a field trip to a local park close to where we lived.  The assignment was to pick out a suitable subject within a 100-foot radius from where we parked our cars and produce a photo that was suitable for framing.

They were assigned to use nothing more than a small home-made reflector and a tripod.  The results were exceptional to say the least.  I’m sorry I don’t have any of the original pictures samples any more.

I do have some stuff I banged off for my wife a year ago when I first got my new digital camera and I’m going to use some of these as an example of what I’m talking about.  Judy plants a wonderful array of annuals in our yard every year.  My job is to photographically record the results.

Years ago, when we still owned the photo studio, I used to use a Mamiya RB-67 medium format camera.  It produced a 2 1/4 X 2 3/4 (professional format) negative.  It was a fully manual camera which gave me full control over the field of focus.

It’s not quite as easy to achieve the results you want with the newer digital cameras.  Manual, high-end film-based cameras are still the best in my opinion but digitals are catching up fast.  I know I’m going to get an argument on this from some died-in-the-wool digital enthusiasts but this is my website and I’m entitled to my opinion.  So there!

All kidding aside, I don’t think that many of the folks who read this stuff are going to need to or even want to electronically manipulate whatever they shoot.

If you’re going to have people in your shots, you’re going to have to be aware of what I consider to be a couple of serious failings in each of the digital cameras I’ve tried.

There’s almost a full one second delay from the time the shutter release is pressed until the time the camera shutter actually fires. In my own camera I can minimize this to some extent by setting the autofocus feature to “full time” which means the camera’s focusing mechanism is resetting itself continuously. This is not a great answer. To start with, it’s hard on batteries. It also ‘burns’ up a lot of memory space. Even with rechargables it seriously cuts into the number of photos I can take before the power cells run out.

One other way is to set the focus, shutter speed and aperture manually and run with it in full manual mode. With the flash turned off, there is still a delay which could cause you to miss a great shot by the fraction of a second. It’s also somewhat annoying for the people standing in front of the camera who have somehow engineered an acceptable facial expression and find they can’t hold it for as long as it takes for the camera to fire.

There is a third way to minimize this effect to some extent. If your camera has a multiple-exposure capability, you can play around with this until you get the effect you want.

The second failing in my opinion is the lack of having a place to use a cable release. Granted, most of the higher-end boxes have an infra-red remote trigger but you need to be in front of the camera to activate the shutter, not behind it or to the side of it while you take your shots.