It is time for the Worldwide Photo Walk. It will be on October 13th, and our local group will be walking the quaint Village of Salado. Salado should provide plenty of interesting shooting, since it hosts of variety of artists itself, everything from musicians, to painters, to glass blowers. On top of that, Salado boasts quite an old and storied history for this part of the world. The buildings themselves tell a story which goes back many generations. If you are wondering what a “photo walk” is, it is really just a good excuse to get out and take some pictures. I have never taken anything earth-shattering, but I have had fun, which tells me the photo walk is more about the people than the photos themselves. You can talk gear to folks who will not roll their eyes; you can ask questions about types of photography you have not…
I was clicking away some pinata-punishing photos at a birthday party for a friend when I heard a disturbing sound from my camera. Thinking the shutter may have folded, I figured I was holding a fancy paperweight anyway, so I tried shooting again: the viewfinder went black. Interesting. I shot again: the viewfinder went half black. I realized my mirror had issues; not the shutter.
This camera is most definitely my new favorite suggestion for those folks who ask me what camera they should buy. There is no one camera to suggest for everybody’s needs, but almost everybody who asks is in the looking-to-step-up-to-something-nicer-than-my-point-and-shoot category. For those buying a professional or serious amateur choice, I am rarely asked what I think, because they know what they want without asking me. So, almost everybody is in that middle range: no more point-and-shoot cameras and no felt-need for $1000+ purchases.
For the needs of most, I would suggest the Fujifilm X10. My coworker once asked me, after watching me suggest different cameras for different people, “Why do you suggest different cameras and why do you never suggest your own camera?” I try my best to understand the primary concerns people have, what they want out of their camera, what has been the biggest problem with their current camera, and what kind of photography they will be doing. More often than not, price is the driving concern, and the X10 provides much more for your money than any camera I know of in a similar price range.
“I am constantly running into the problem of not having enough light,” my friend moaned in an e-mail. Join the club, dude. He asked a slew of questions related to what gear I use, or would suggest, to try to help combat that age old problem (ok…”age old” as far as photography is concerned anyway) of not enough light.
What are you using these days? I know you are very much anti-flash, which I basically agree with. But I am constantly running into the problem of not enough light. Are you mostly shooting with a 50mm f/1.8? Or are you jacking up your ISO? Or are you using a tripod? Which reminds me, my tripod recently broke, any recommendations on one (that is not in the crazy range, under $200)? Ok, so I am asking lots of questions, sorry. But one more, post production, what are you using? Lightroom? Photoshop? iPhoto?
Your battery will inevitably die at the very worst time, right? Today is my son’s 4th birthday. I did not realize till we arrived at the shopping center for his choice of pizza and ice cream cake that the battery was dead. And no, I did not tell my wife at first. Things always seem to work out, so I figured I would just not touch the camera and wait till just before I wanted to (hopefully) resurrect it for a few shots, and see what happened.
Now, I try to play it safe with my camera batteries. Having two batteries is a must for me, and with my shooting style and load, I have never even gone through one battery in one day of heavy shooting, so I figure two is twice as much as I have ever needed. The bigger problem is knowing which day my battery is finally going to die. That day was today.
We are back to that recurring question: what camera should I buy? I am often asked, but having recently put some work into finding the best options for a coworker who was buying a first camera setup for her son, I thought it might be helpful to share what I found and suggested. I worked quite hard to stay within a $500 budget, though some of the options below rely on used gear, and availability certainly can change quickly.
My chief aim was to avoid the kit lens which comes with all of the entry level digital SLRs. Not that they are rubbish, necessarily, but you will constantly be fighting their limited aperture, your photos will have the same feel as everybody else’s, and more than likely you will be more satisfied with a cheap, fixed-length lens with wider aperture. So, here we go…
There is a difference. The workshop I am starting up today is not “basic photography”, in the sense of photography for just beginners. Rather, if the word “basic” must be used to describe it, it is the “basics of photography”, in the sense that we may already be highly creative, have an excellent eye for the image we want, and take beautiful photographs on a regular basis, but we still have a weakness in the technical aspects of how photography works.
Photography is intriguing in that way: it is both highly creative and highly technical. You have to have a feel for the image, and eye for what to capture, but you also have to have a solid understanding of the technical aspects of how cameras and lenses work. That technical understanding will unlock knew realms of creativity, or, at the very least, help you mess-up fewer photos.
Do you see good photo ops, but just cannot seem to make the camera capture it like you see it? Photography is half creativity and half technique, and without a firm grasp on the technical side of how our cameras capture photographs, we can only hope our cameras take the photo we want. We will learn about light, how our cameras capture it, and the limitations and creative potential unique to photography.
Aperture is just funky. Well, if you sit around with friends calculating the area of a circle and talk about the next digit of π, then maybe you are just a different kind of normal and aperture is your cup of tea. For the rest of us, though, I highly suggest a time honored method to understanding your camera, though understanding why the numbers are weird will elude you: memorize.
Any of us can calculate that ISO 200 is twice as sensitive as ISO 100, and ISO 400 is twice as fast as as ISO 200. With film sensitivity, a stop of light is easy to figure. Even with the shutter speed, though they inconveniently do not use exact numbers, the key numbers are approximately exponential: 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250, 500, 1000. There is a little funny business going on in there, but basically, it is easy to figure a stop of light. Aperture, though? Not so much.
Do you see good photo ops, but just cannot seem to make the camera capture the image like you see it? Photography is half creativity and half technique, and without a firm grasp on the technical side of how our cameras capture photographs, we can only hope our cameras take the photo we want. We all struggle with this “other half of photography”, but the more we understand and know how to put into practice, the fewer ruined photographs we will have. I will be leading a class on Wednesday nights this month (January) to learn about light, how our cameras capture it, and the limitations and creative potential unique to photography. Temple Parks & Leisure is providing this class each Wednesday in January from 5:30-7:00pm for a total cost of $45. Feel free to ask any questions you might have of me below in the comments or contact Temple…