Making Sharp Images

Hi Folks:

I was out with a group of people on a photo walk the other day and one of those present – relatively new to digital photography – asked me what exposure settings to use for the location where we were standing. I gave a too short and relatively useless reply, so I thought to follow it up with an e-mail. When the e-mail reached 2000 words I thought maybe I should post it here instead:

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Minimum Handheld Shutter Speed

Hi Folks:

A friend recently asked me about the minimum handheld shutter speed for cropped sensor cameras; the old adage for 35mm cameras was known as ‘1/focal length’ and he was wondering if he should apply a 1.6 crop factor for a cropped sensor.  I saved my reply and thought I’d post it here… Continue Reading →

Do You Manipulate Your Images?

Hi Folks:

A few years ago photographer Alain Briot did an article for the Luminous Landscape titled, “Just Say Yes” as a way of answering this question.  The thing of it is, the answer is ‘yes’ for everyone, but a lot of people don’t seem to think so.  Thought I’d write a short (for me) blog post about it.  To begin with, we’d best get that word ‘manipulate‘ out of the way.  From Dictionary.com:

ma·nip·u·late

[muh-nip-yuh-leyt]
verb (used with object), -lat·ed, -lat·ing.

  1. to manage or influence skillfully, especially in an unfair manner: to manipulate people’s feelings.
  2. to handle, manage, or use, especially with skill, in some process of treatment or performance: to manipulate a large tractor.
  3. to adapt or change (accounts, figures, etc.) to suit one’s purpose or advantage.
  4. Medicine/Medical . to examine or treat by skillful use of the hands, as in palpation, reduction of dislocations, or changing the position of a fetus.

See, that’s not so bad.  If you asked the average photographer whether or not s/he is able to ‘handle, manage, or use‘ his or her camera, ‘especially with skill‘, I don’t think they’d take offense.  Still, somewhere along the way the idea of manipulating one’s images has taken a wrong turn.  There are a couple of reasons for this, I think.  One is the general idea that photographs (unlike paintings or drawings) represent ‘reality’.  If a photograph is seen not to represent some form of reality, people can take offense to this.  The other is that programs like Photoshop allow those with the skill to create graphic manipulations that have no bearing on ‘reality’ at all. Continue Reading →

How to Buy a New Camera

Hi Folks:

The first 35mm film camera I ever used was my dad’s Argus A5; it had four shutter speeds, five f/stops and ‘guess the distance’ focusing.  No lightmeter, of course.  It taught me a lot about photography.  Back then I couldn’t always afford film, but I’d take that camera out in the woods and make compositions through the viewfinder, measure the light with the little handheld lightmeter and calculate exposures.  My first SLR camera was an Asahi Pentax Spotmatic F; a definite step up in photographic terms, and a great little camera, even though I eventually jumped ship and went with Minolta instead.  Continue Reading →

Cell Phone Cameras

Hi Folks:

One of the gifts Mrs. Claus gave me for Christmas was a Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant GT-i9000M Android-enabled cell phone.  The name is actually longer than the phone itself; I’m not sure who comes up with this stuff!  The GPS feature combined with Google Maps makes navigating the sleigh a lot simpler, but that’s another story.  The phone also has a 5MP digital camera, and that’s the topic for today’s blog post.  BTW, I checked the Apple Canada site and the iPhone 4 also has a 5MP camera, so I’m assuming they’re in the same ball park as far as comparisons go.

The reasons for this post are two-fold.  For one, up until now I’ve never really had the chance to experience making photographs with a cell phone camera.  For the second, there have been a couple of posts on Mike Johnston’s ‘The Online Photographer‘ blog recently that say that the sales of ‘point and shoot’ cameras have been steadily falling.  His suggestion is that point and shoot cameras are single-use devices while cell phones with cameras are multifunctional… so more people are simply using their cell phone cameras rather than purchasing a separate camera as well. Continue Reading →

Photography and Colour Management

UPDATE: September 2, 2013  A month or so ago I did a Powerpoint presentation for our photo meetup group on the Essentials of Digital Photography as a starting point for a talk on Lightroom, and I created a video of that presentation.  This is complementary to but different from the post below.
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Hi Folks:

This started out as a quick response to a friend from a local photography meetup group on how to profile her scanner, but some 5000 characters later I thought maybe I should simply post it here instead.  As I mention (several times) below, I’m far from being a colour expert, so at best this is a layman’s explanation.  Any errors are wholly mine, and if you want to add corrections in the comments below, feel free to do so.  Just remember that this is targeted toward the average reader! Continue Reading →