A cemetery on a foggy morning holds mementos of those who’ll never be forgotten.
I got a new camera for Christmas! It’s got a 14.1 megapixel sensor, came with a 28-122mm zoom lens, and shoots HD video! Like my old camera, I can set the ISO, white balance, and shutter speed. Which awesome new DSLR did I get? I didn’t. It’s a point and shoot!
Several people have asked me why, after finally upgrading last year to a DSLR, would I regress to a point and shoot? My answer is simple: Different cameras serve different purposes.
I LOVE my DSLR. It affords me control over nearly every aspect of the photographs I take. And in learning to use all those features, I’m learning a lot about photography as a whole. But it does have some drawbacks. It can be cumbersome to carry around at times. It can be difficult to get candid shots because it’s kind of noticeable. And the entry level model that I have doesn’t shoot video.
My new point and shoot is about 3.5 inches wide, just over 2 inches high, and less than an inch thick. I can easily carry it around in my pocket. And here’s the thing- I can still create great images with it!
I’ve seen plenty of pictures similar to the one above from photographers using DSLRs.
I’m not downplaying the value of a DSLR. I’m simply making the point that with the number of features being added to them, and considering that it’s the photographer, not the camera, that makes the picture, “point and shoot” cameras should not be considered a downgrade, but rather another avenue for creating compelling images.
You may have noticed that I haven’t exactly been on par with my goal of at least once a week with a new photo. There are many reasons for that, but none of them are relevant except that I’ve been pretty busy. Jumping back in today, though, has led to a new discovery for me, and since the purpose of this blog was for me to learn, here we are again!
In an effort to make a photo of a subject with a background of bokehed Christmas lights, I found I couldn’t get the subject (a 101 Dalmatians ornament) to come out without a yellowish hue. I tried all the preset white balances. Feeling I had nothing to lose, and having never really messed with it before, I attempted the Custom White Balance setting. Now, I could have gone and gotten the manual, or the DSLRs fer Dumb-dumbs book, but instead decided on the fail proof method of fumbling through, pushing buttons, and seeing what happens.
The camera told me “Correct WB may not be obtained with the selected image” on the dog photos I’d already taken. The white balance was still set to custom and had never been messed with before. I remembered reading about white balance cards, and thought I understood the reason for them, but had never really known how to put them to use. Also, didn’t have one. So I snapped a photo of my Macbook, which is white.
The resulting image caught me a bit off guard. Out of curiosity, I went back into the menu and tried to correct the white balance using this image. In my head, this was never going to work. The image is green. Any “white balancing” would be inherently skewed by the distinct lack of white, right?
If you’ve been to photography school, or have years of experience, or have read the DSLRs fer Dumb-dumbs book, please remember, I have no formal training in the dynamics of the color spectrum and how that might apply to digital photography. The fact that this worked might well have been the result of me casting some kind of inadvertent wizard spell for all I knew. But the next picture I took was the top of my computer, and viola!
High on my success and feeling pretty pleased with my discovery, I turned my attention back to the Dalmatian and the Christmas tree.
On the very next shot, I got exactly what I had been trying for.
I find this small discovery exciting for two reasons. One, I like to learn things, and I prefer to learn in a hands on, problem solving kind of way rather than being assigned a course of study with known results. This way is just more fun to me. Secondly, it means the evolution of this blog is having the desired effect!
You may have noticed a distinct lack of posts lately.
The original purpose of this project was to encourage me to use my camera by posting a new picture every day. It worked. I used my camera every day. I learned new settings and techniques. It was fantastic.
But recently, as I perused the archive, as I do from time to time to gauge my progress, I noticed my work becoming stagnant. There were bright spots of creativity throughout, but it seemed like I was getting bogged down. The need to post a picture- any picture- was overpowering the need to post a good picture. I had allowed the project to become counterproductive.
So I took a step back. I put the camera down. And I walked away for a week or so while I reassessed.
I determined that posting a photo every day is a nice sentiment, but the only thing I’m learning about is deadlines. In order to learn, perhaps my lessons should last longer than a few minutes a day. I decided that if I took many photographs throughout the week, focusing on one subject (Sorry, I can’t resist a pun), and posted the best, or at the least, the best representation of the subject that week, I would get more out of it.
The practical application of this epiphany is that I’ll no longer be posting a photo every day. It may be every few days, it may be once a week (I’m aiming for at least once a week). Intermittently, I may share what I’ve learned by writing a bit about it. As it says in the new header, the project is evolving. Let’s see where it goes.