Saturday, September 1, 2012

Photography with a point and shoot camera

I have a little Nikon L22 point and shoot camera.  It's not very expensive.  It's small and fits in the bib pocket of my overalls.  It does pretty well with color.  Those are its best qualities.

I am pretty new at photography.  Sure, I've taken pictures all my life.  As a point and shoot person.  With my point and shoot camera.  Most of my life, my cameras took film.  Experimenting with film was expensive.  And also hard to learn from because there is so much time between taking the picture and seeing the picture. Not so with my digital camera.

So I take lots of pictures.  Of course, that means you have to weed through them and decide what to keep.  The picking process takes a lot of time.   First pass through I delete all the really bad ones; that's easy.  The harder part is when there are several similar shots and you like one part of one and another part of a different one.  I think there are photo adjustment tools that let you merge together photos, but I don't use them.  I think that would take a LOT of time.

A friend of mine recently complimented my photos so I thought I would write about what I've learned so far and where I learned it.

I learned a lot about getting the most out of a point and shoot camera from a thread on Portland Hikers where I asked for advice.

 The most important things I learned were

1) Prefocus the camera on the area you want not only to be in focus but with the light level you want the camera to set itself by.  I usually take more than one photo with differing focal points.

2) Pay attention to how the photo is framed.  Just because your eye sees something cool doesn't mean the camera can capture it.  Look and see.

3) My camera does not allow me to select F stops and shutter speeds except for indirectly.  I can change the mode (landscape, closeup, sports, evening, etc) and that has a lot to do with how the camera sets those.  Also the light level I prefocus on affects how the camera sets those.  I often take photos in different modes and see how they come out.

4) You won't see exactly what you will get.  The view finder doesn't show as clear or good an image as the camera takes.  I find that one frustrating because you don't really know what you got until you look at the photo.

 5) Use Picasa to adjust the photo.  It's pretty easy.  Start with I feel lucky.  And try fill light, shadows, cropping, straightening, color temperature and auto contrast.  You can also re-touch photos  which I use to get rid of minor things I don't want in the picture.  These are usually things that I can't shoot around like street signs or other things that we don't see so much in real life but really stick out in the photo.   And you can undo anything you try so experimenting is fun.

My friend Dave gave me the tip about using Picasa.  Thanks, Dave!  Dave and his wife Nancy are blogging about their great bicycling adventure in various parts of the world for the past year and a half.  I really enjoy their blog.  You can follow their blog here.

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