Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Request time

Some readers have asked about my camera equipment. Okay.

This photo was taken with my iPhone 5c using the Camera+ app

My "serious" camera is a Canon EOS Rebel T3i that I bought used on eBay. It's a few generations old. Here are the specifications, if you're into that kind of thing. It's sort of a "serious hobbyist" camera and I'm sort of a semi-serious hobbyist. The main thing I wanted was the ability to selectively control all the exposure parameters (even though I usually use one of the preprogrammed settings).

It came with the 18-135mm zoom lens shown on the left. After a while I realized I was using the wide angle range of that lens most of the time. Hey, the wide open spaces of the West call for a wide lens, right? So I got the lighter, more compact 18-55mm zoom lens shown on the camera. Then, because I started getting interested in photographing flowers, I got the 50mm macro lens shown in the back.

This was shot with the Canon and the 18-55mm lens

Then there's the camera in my iPhone 5c. I don't carry the Canon around all the time, of course. So the phone is good when I'm not expecting to take photos or when I don't want to look so much like a tourist.

I've tried seven or eight camera apps but use Camera+ most of the time. Other times I use Pro HDR or just the camera app that came on the phone. Sometimes I'm stunned at the quality of the photos I can get from a phone, because I remember back when digital photography was awful, or awfully expensive.

More often than not, I do a little image correction on my laptop, using Photoshop Elements. Some cropping, color balance, opening up some shadows, darkening some highlights—essentially the stuff I'd do in a darkroom if this weren't the digital age. Every once in a while I'll use an arty filter.

Equipment is sort of secondary, though. People can (and do) take bad photos with excellent cameras, and others take some amazing photos with cheap cameras. It's really about paying attention to the light. That's, like, 80 percent of "learning photography." The other 20 percent or so is about capturing what you see.

I'm not a great photographer. I just try to be aware of some basic principles of light and composition. For example, the photos above were set up inside the Rolling Steel Tent with indirect light coming mostly from behind. Because that kind of lighting is usually more attractive than direct light from the front. I've taken some classes, but most of what I know about using light came from experience—which is a lot easier to accumulate now that we can immediately see the results of what we shoot. "Hmmm, what if I shoot from over here instead? What if I shoot at a different time of day? Wow. Why does that look better?"

In the classes I took, there were usually some who were really into cameras and lenses and all the gear. And there were usually a few with just a basic camera. The camera junkies rarely took the best photos. And sometimes the ones with the basic cameras did, because of the way they saw things. So if all you have is the camera in your phone or a point-and-shoot pocket camera, use it. Your eyes and brain are the most vital tools.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice product shots, Al. And I'm sure you knew you'd be able to put that rusty bolt to good use someday.