Practice makes perfect pictures, Kiwanis hear
Monitor Staff Reports
SEVEN POINTS–Learning how to use your camera and practice will pay off in better pictures, members of the Cedar Creek Lake Kiwanis club heard Wednesday.
The Monitor editor Kerry Yancey, a prize-winning photojournalist for more than 25 years, told the gathering new digital technology means a small point-and-shoot camera can do almost anything a single lens reflex (SLR) camera can do, within limits.
“Back when I was in school, 32-33 years ago, I was told ‘first, have the job, and then buy equipment to do the job’,” he said. “If you just buy equipment, and then look for a way to use it, you’ll end up spending a lot of money getting something you don’t use.
“If you want to take pictures of your kids or grandkids that you’ll hold in your hand, you don’t need this,” Yancey told the group while hefting a professional-level Canon 20D SLR with zoom lens in one hand.
“This (20D and lens) is $2,700 worth of camera. This point-and-shoot (held in the other hand) will do almost anything you can do with this (SLR), and it’s just $175,” he pointed out. “On the other hand, if you need to catch the action at second base, you’ll need the power and lens to get the job done.”
If you’re looking to buy a camera to record your travels, you might consider cameras that offer a wider zoom range.
For example, Yancey said the Canon A520 point-and-shoot he held offers 4 megapixels and a 4x zoom, meaning the lens covers approximately 35mm to 140mm, or a moderate wide angle to a short telephoto, Yancey explained.
Canon also offers a point-and-shoot camera with 3.2 megapixels and a 12x zoom, meaning you can catch that bear gamboling on the shoreline from the deck of the cruise ship when you visit Alaska, Yancey said.
“Again, have the job, and buy the equipment to fit the job,” he added.
Turning to camera specifications, Yancey explained megapixel numbers refer to the number of “picture elements” on the camera’s sensor.
A 1-megapixel camera has one million picture elements, while the 4-megapixel A520 has four million picture elements on its sensor. The 20D provides 8.2 megapixels, he said.
“More megapixels are better, if you need them,” he said. “It’s like the old saying about cars – ‘Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go?’”
Using a PowerPoint setup provided by club vice president Jeanne Caillet, Yancey showed a full-frame photo of a high jumper. By cropping the picture, a much more dramatic photo will result, Yancey revealed.
“That ability to crop is what more megapixels give you,” he said.
“When you get your camera, read the manual,” he said. “Know what your camera will do, and how to make it do what you want. How many pictures will you miss because you don’t know how to set up the camera properly?”
Some cameras boast a digital zoom and an optical zoom. Pointing to the large lens on the SLR camera, Yancey said that is an optical zoom, which physically magnifies the image.
“A digital zoom only magnifies the pixels that are there in the image, and above a certain point, all you can see are pixels – the image itself is lost,” he said. “In practice, a digital zoom is useless.”
Typically, the biggest limitation for any point-and-shoot camera is flash coverage, he said. A tiny flash just won’t put out enough light to cover a big group.
“Again, read your manual,” he said. “It will tell you what your flash coverage will be, and I’ll bet it won’t be much farther than 10 feet or so, which is not very far.”
Televised events, such as the Super Bowl, always show camera flashes going off all around the stadium. “If you’re sitting in the nosebleed section, there’s no way your flash is going to reach the field,” he said.
Most point-and-shoot cameras also don’t fire immediately when you push the trigger. The camera has to think about what it’s doing – usually focusing – before it can fire. That built-in firing delay makes taking pictures of sports action iffy at best, he said.
In addition, digital cameras have to send images through a buffer to record them on the camera’s memory card, so you might not be able to take another picture for some time. That’s called “next-shot delay,” and can range from only a second or less (good) to several seconds (bad).
Indoors, the camera’s flash also has to recycle, which can extend the next-shot delay time, he said.
Yancey said a digital SLR, such as the 20D, offers a firing delay measured in a few milliseconds, and can record five images a second (called a “burst”) for up to 23 images at the camera’s highest-quality setting. Of course, you pay more for that, he pointed out.
“For better pictures, learn how your camera works. If it’s digital, experiment and learn what this button does and what that setting does,” Yancey said. “It’s not like you’re running up rolls of film that you’ll have to pay to process. If you don’t like what you see, you can delete it and do it again.”
Check the background of your scene, Yancey warned.
“Watch out for that mirror! Your flash will bounce off it – your camera will think ‘that’s enough light’ and shut down the flash – and you’ll have nothing,” he said.
“It’s the same with a window,” he added. “Your camera will see the light coming through the window, and think, ‘there’s plenty of light – we don’t need a flash’ and you won’t have anything.
“Cameras will lie to you if you give them a chance,” Yancey said.
Focus can be a problem, he added.
“You think it looks good, but the camera thinks you’re taking a picture of that car in the background, and you can’t tell from that two-inch display on the back of the camera,” he said. “You never know what you have until you have it big in front of you.”
In club business, member Linda Rau showed club members a new book, “Bunny and the Great Carrot Race” by Liane Payne.
The book, which has “touchy-feely” textured illustrations, teaches children the meaning of compassion for others, Rau said.
The Kiwanis club will provide copies of the book for both the Tri-County Library in Mabank and The Library at Cedar Creek Lake in Seven Points, Rau said.
Addison wins DAR scholarship
View Other Pages