Tag: <span>SLR</span>

A few years ago, having bought my first digital camera, I realised there was much more to taking a photograph than just “point and shoot” and I started to consider the machinations of photography a bit more seriously,

I read up on things like exposure, aperture, f-stops and other things with odd names to make sure I had a good grasp of the basics. Then I bought a semi-SLR camera with the aim of practicing with that so when I “upgraded” to a full SLR I’d be getting the most of all the capabilities. Well that and the semi-SLR camera was much cheaper.

So, armed with my Canon Powershot S3 I started taking photos “properly”. I was mindful of the lessons I had learned, and spent a lot of time experimenting to better understand all the capabilities my camera had. I took a lot of photos, I mean A LOT of photos, and I reckon I was happy with about 5% of them which was fine as that was all part of learning how to take better photographs.

Composition is, it seems, my strength. I have a good eye for what should be in a shot to get the best image. The rest of the techniques and technological faffing is where I start to lose my way a little and that’s largely due to a lack of understanding of the basics, no matter how many ways I tried to learn them (how DO you make the water tumbling over rocks in a waterfall look all blurry?). And the more I had to try and learn, the less fun it got and the less interested I became.

I tried a few ways to counter this, buying new lens for the camera to give me something to experiment with, but ultimately it seems to be doomed.

Yup, in fitting with every profiling technique I’ve ever tried, I stay true to one aspect of my personality.

I’m quickly bored and easily distracted.

[insert “ohhh shiny” joke here]

For a while I really enjoyed wandering around with my camera, finding hidden alleyways and forgotten spaces, taking photos of odd things and capturing tiny fragments of beauty as I came upon them. Unfortunately I started to realise that I enjoyed the wandering but not the “which feckin’ setting would be best for this” bit when it came to actually taking the photos and so, slowly, I stopped doing such things.

It’s also not easy to carry around a ‘big’ camera all the time and, invariably whenever I needed it (that is, I spotted something that I thought would make a good/interesting photo) I didn’t have it with me.

So I bought a second camera, a Ricoh Caplio R7, just so I had something smaller for ‘snapshots’ and random photo opportunities. I don’t carry it with me all the time though, but I do use it far more than I did my ‘big’ camera.

Add in the constant march of technology and it’s time for me to revisit WHY I take photos and match the equipment to my approach. It’s telling that, since finding a couple of iPhone apps that do a good job of processing photos on the handset directly, I’m far more likely to use it as my ‘snapshot’ camera these days and given it’s only a 2MB camera, that in itself suggests I’m more interested in the content of the photo than any of the things the purists would worry about.

The upshot of all this is that I’m selling my Canon Powershot S3 and the accompanying lens. The Ricoh (which was used for the photo in the post below) is good enough for my needs at the moment, and I’m happy to rely on my iPhone for the occasional snapshot.

This should free me to get back to enjoying photography, back to letting my eye wander and capturing those instants and scenes that stick in my mind.

Some of which I post here.


We have some empty picture frames lying around, and we’d like to put some photos of our friends and family in them. This poses a slight problem though as we don’t have any photos that we like.

I did a little research last night, and as we are getting together with our friends at the weekend it’s a great opportunity to practise taking “informal or candid portraits” or, as I prefer to call them, “taking 300 pictures of people when they aren’t looking”. The trouble is the minute you take your camera out everyone spots it and they all become very self-aware, rendering candidity a nonsense.

About 15 years ago (oh my god, is it really…), when we (my family) were on holiday in France we met up with some friends of my parents. Ohh and before I go any further I’ll state that this post is up for correction if my Mum or Dad drop by, slightly hazy on some of the facts.

Anyway, my parents had known Pascal and Maryline (sp?) for many years, and I’d met them some years before (including a hairy car journey with Pascal in a VW camper van doing 90mph down a B road… or at least that’s what it seemed like. What IS IT with continental drivers?). Pascal is a teacher and photographer who has had some work published – postcards and the like. One hot summer evening in Brittany, sitting in the campsite as the sun began to set, we scoffed down barbequed food and sat talking and laughing – I was at the age where talking with the “adults” was turning out to be fun, who knew!.

Pascal had his camera bag with him, and as we were all talking, he took out his very large and foreboding looking SLR and started changing settings, clicking quick test photos of nothing in particular (I presumed). Next thing I know I hear a click and he looks up from behind his camera, grinning at me. He’d completely fooled me into thinking that he was just checking his equipment* and I hadn’t even noticed him point the camera in my direction.

If I can find the photo he took I’ll scan it in, suffice to say it’s very natural looking (and proves that I did once have hair… when I was 15…). Looking back to that day, it’s that kind of anonymity that I’ll need if I want to take the kind of photos we’d like. The trouble is, and this is particularly so with my friends, I’m not really the type to sit in the background and try to be invisible. I’ve still to figure out a way around that particular, and very personal, issue but I have a few thoughts – I could pretend I’m in the huff maybe??

I’ll probably resort to the old “place the camera on the table, tilt it slightly and start clicking” method. Much more luck than judgement that one but might be worth a shot (pun intended). That’ll be fine in the pub, but I’ll need another tactic for when we go to the cinema… ohh slight flaw there, dammit. Mind you there will be dinner after that, and possibly more drinks in a rather grand old building for which it’d be good to take my camera anyway.

So, any tips or suggestions? Should I wait until after dinner when everyone is happy and relaxed (tipsy)? Or should I pretend to take some photos all day but only take a few now and then, thereby diminishing the “ohh crap, he’s got the camera out again” factor.

My mate Keith is a pretty good photographer too, well when I say good I mean he knows what all those technical terms mean and understands the basics better than I do, so I’ll be asking him on Friday night for some pointers. I also know several very good photographers read this nonsense so now is your time to shine, let us mere point-and-click minions feel the warmth of your knowledge. G’wan, gie’s a tip or two.

Candid photos – how best to achieve them. Suggestions in the comment box please.

* One problem when discussing cameras is the innuendo-laden prose I find myself reverting to, it’s purely coincidental. Honest.


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