Friday, October 9, 2009

Digital Camera Basics

I walked into the Creve Coeur Camera store on Olive expecting a small group of people gathered for the Digital Camera Basics class. Boy, was I surprised! There were probably 25-30 people in attendance. Ed, our instructor, commented that this was the biggest class he'd seen in quite sometime. I'd say!

Ed was probably a 30-something gentleman. He'd previously worked in New York and California and he really knew his trade. All around the room there were large printed photos that Ed had taken, each very cool in its own right. So at the very beginning of class I was already in awe looking at all the photos thinking, "Maybe I'll be able to take pictures like THAT someday..."

Once Ed started talking, I was drawn in by the wealth of knowledge he obviously had. The class exceeded my expectations, partly because I went into it thinking that since it was a free class, it wouldn't be that great. But lo and behold, it was all good stuff! And except for the annoying lady in the front row who seemed she needed to prove her knowledge by continously asking questions she already knew the answers to, the overall atmosphere of the class was good too.

The class mostly focused on the common elements between cameras and overall storage, memory cards, file types, photo editing, etc. Here are a few tidbits I wrote down in my notebook:

  • .raw files are the best quality and what most photographers use; however, they take the most work on the computer to format
  • Picassa and Photoshop Elements are both good software programs for beginners to use to resize and reformat pictures
  • Everyone should have a tripod (he didn't say this, strictly my opinion) to get the really cool night-time or time elapsed shots you can't get otherwise
  • Use autofocus (by holding button down halfway) to focus on main object in the picture and then move left or right to move off center
  • Portrait mode blurs the background - the closer your subject gets or the farther away the background, the more blurry it is
  • Mountain mode keeps background in focus; much easier to use during the day
  • Sports mode (best used outdoors) will freeze the action; check camera to see if it goes into rapid mode (where you can just hold down the button and it takes picture after picture)
  • Night scene mode needs a tripod; do not use flash
  • On a sunny day, put the sun behind your subject and use the flash; this prevents shadowed faces

Cool, huh? Now I have to play with all of my camera modes to get comfortable with the automatic functions of the camera before my camera specific class in a couple of weeks. Wish me luck!



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