Saturday, 04 July 2009

Tips for the beginner digital photographer

Digital photography has come of age. The use of film is on a fast and steady decline as more and more people make the transition to digital. Even the highest resolution digital camera cannot beat the resolution of film, so what is it that makes digital photography different?

The principles of film and digital photography are the same. While the quality of the lens and the features of the camera are important, the key part is played by the photographer. Outstanding photographs may be produced without the best equipment. Conversely, the best equipment is often used to produce average photographs. The multitude of pictures posted on Face book are a case in point. Most are of little interest except to those intimately involved. Yet many of these were taken with the best digital cameras.

The key to good photography lies in the ability to see and to think photographically. Use light to its best advantage and focus on composition. No matter what the camera, composition is the key to success. It is the relationships between the objects that make up the picture. Look for lines in the scene, and look for ideas that make the picture interesting. The rule of thirds teaches us that the the eye is not drawn to the centre of the picture but to the intersection of the thirds - both horizontal and vertical. Become aware of the light and the effect of dark shadows in a photograph. The multitude of special effects and extra features of many digital cameras are nice to have extras.

The main differences between a digital and a film camera include:

* memory replaces the film

* batteries are crucial in digital photography but play only a small part in a film camera

* a memory card - unlike film - can be used over and over again

* you may vary the resolution of your pictures

* you can edit or discard your pictures on the camera itself

* pictures may be printed directly from the camera and stored on a computer and on the Internet.

Perhaps the most obvious difference of your new digital camera is that instead of a viewfinder there is a screen. Some cameras have both, but most rely simply on the screen. The adjustment is simple, but it will take some practice to get a firm and steady grip on the camera. The screen is a useful addition for the photographer. It becomes simpler to frame the composition effectively and to preview how the photograph will turn out.

As in film photography, it is the quality of the optics that determine how well the camera performs. A good lens on a cheap camera can produce excellent results while a low quality lens on the most expensive camera will let you down every time!

Most cameras have a range of automatic options including automatic exposure control and automatic focus. In addition to the optical zoom, a digital zoom is available.

Before you start using your new digital camera, it is a good idea to read the manual. Experiment while you do this, and you will get a feel for the camera very quickly. With a digital camera there is no cost in experimentation.

Most digital cameras have a small amount of built-in memory. This memory will limit you (depending on size) to only a few photos - perhaps between 8 and 20. Before you are able to capture new photos you will have to copy these to a computer or print them to free up the space. The best option is to buy a memory card that will boost the amount of space for pictures quite dramatically. Buy the largest memory card you can afford. These are still fairly expensive, but remember that paying for film and developing is a thing of the past!

Film comes in specific sizes - 12, 24 or 26 pictures. The number of pictures that may be captured digitally depends on a combination of the memory available and the resolution of the camera and the pictures. The higher the resolution, the fewer pictures can be stored. Some cameras allow you to reduce or increase the resolution of your pictures. Reducing the resolution effectively increases the capacity of your memory card, but reduces the extent of enlargement possible. Remember that five mega pixels provides a high enough resolution for most purposes.

If you intend travelling with your camera, it may be worth carrying an additional memory card. If one card is full, then the second will be very useful until you are able to transfer the pictures to your computer.

A digital camera is totally reliant on batteries. The best option is to purchase two sets of rechargeable batteries. Although they may last for some time, it is always a good idea to have a spare set available.

The zoom on a digital camera is often a combination of optical zoom (using the lens) and digital zoom. The digital zoom simply enlarges the picture and effectively reduces the resolution. Most cameras will indicate when you are using the digital zoom.

Digital cameras are usually supplied with some built in photo-editing software to crop the photos, correct the brightness, contrast and so on. You may also switch to black and white and use other effects offered on the camera.

Your digital camera should be supplied with a USB cable to copy or transfer your photos to a computer. The transfer is a fairly straightforward process and takes only a few minutes to complete. Some cameras allow you to transfer the pictures directly to your printer. Use the software supplied with the camera to do this or use one of the many photo editing software tools available.

The computer based photo editors have a number of powerful features that make it possible to correct a wide range of defects in a photo. The colour balance, saturation, colour temperature, brightness and contrast can all be varied. You may add more light or shadow. It is possible to correct both over and under exposure within certain limits. These photo editing programs usually have an array of special effects that may be applied.

With your photos on the computer it is quite simple to print these on an inexpensive ink-jet printer. A variety of special photo paper can be purchased for this purpose. The cost of the ink and paper is relatively expensive but is a very convenient option. Alternatively, you can order prints from the traditional photo shop or through one of the Internet based photographic printers.

The simplest way to begin with the digital camera is to use the automatic features. Familiarise yourself with these and experiment with the many other features that are available.

Digital photography offers plenty of scope to be creative, and the cost of film will never be important again.

1 comment:

AC Service Buena Park CA said...

Great post, very helpful!

<3 Lindsay