Photography Update – 2008

It has been a year now since I made the switch from film to digital photography. Overall, I would have to say that it has been a very positive change. There have been many favorable elements and to be honest, I can’t think of one thing about film that I miss. The one downside to the digital world is the additional effort required to process your images before you print them. But, on the other hand that is where the flexibility lies too. You can fix things that did not quite work out. Adjusting the exposure after the fact, or the white balance, tweaking the color saturation a bit to make it look like it did in real life.

The end result is a lot better picture. Looks like it did when you were standing there taking the shot. I have found that some caution is necessary though because it is easy to push the color saturation a bit too much. Doing that can make for a striking photo but there tends to be a shade of unreality to it when you do that. The tools for manipulating the image are simply mind-boggling. The industry standard is Adobe’s Photoshop. I put off buying it for a very long time. Not only is it expensive but it’s so powerful and has so many features that the learning curve is quite high. I decided to go ahead and make the plunge last December while I still had my academic credentials which allowed me to buy the package at a deep discount. As I expected it is a challenging package to learn. In fact, I think it will be a life-long process.

One of the neatest features I’ve found so far is the ability to select a certain portion of the photo and lighten or darken just that section. That feature alone has allowed me to save a number of photos. One of the other big reasons for using Photoshop is simply because all the articles/tutorials/how-to’s for digital photography are inevitably written for Photoshop. So, I have started inching my way up the learning curve. Someday I’ll probably be an expert.

The digital camera has similar challenges. There are so many features on it I rarely seem to remember that I can actually compensate for various situations by making a few changes in the settings. One of the big ones is the ability to change the ISO setting on the fly. I simply have a hard time remembering that I can change the film speed if the situation requires it. Overall, I am very happy with the Canon 20D. It is proving to be a awesome asset to my photography skills. I finally found a camera bag that I am happy with. I needed one that could go hiking with me, be large enough to hold the camera, a couple of lenses, and some accessories. That in itself isn’t hard but add the ability to quickly extract the camera and things get tougher. TamracBag.jpg I tried several options but finally settled on a Tamrac bag that I really like. It is the Velocity Series, a sling pack that carries like a backpack, but swings to the front for quick access to the photo gear. I tend to wear my on the front most of the time but it’s really nice to shift it to your back when you need to climb across some rocks or some other natural impediment.

Rhonda has been encouraging me to exhibit some of my photos with the hopes of possibly selling some. Perhaps in the local coffee shop. I am starting to give it a little more consideration. This year promises to be a banner year for photo opportunities. Perhaps by the end of the summer I will have a suitable portfolio.

I invested a portion of my tax refund into a new wide-angle lens. I did have a really nice wide-angle lens for my film camera. It was a 20-35mm f2.8 Tokina Pro lens that I really enjoyed using for landscapes. Unfortunately, due to the smaller size of the sensors in the digital cameras you don’t get exactly the same results. There is a 1:1.6 ratio between a normal 35mm film frame and a digital sensor. This means that a 20mm field of view on the film camera suddenly becomes a 32mm field of view on the digital camera. My nice wide-angle lens wasn’t exactly wide anymore so I sold the lens figuring I would replace it someday. Someday finally came and tomorrow my new 10-22mm lens should arrive. This will give me back the equivalent of a 16-35mm traditional field of view.

wirelessremote.jpgOne other feature I lost when I bought the 20D was my wireless remote. The one I owned for my Elan was incompatible with the newer digital models. Canon naturally had a replacement but zounds! they wanted over a hundred bucks for it. I’m not willing to pay that much so I’ve been waiting for someone to come out with a third party solution and I finally found that too. I had to order it from Hong Kong but it will do exactly what I need and it was only $19 plus shipping. These things are invaluable for getting yourself in the photo. The problem with being the photographer is you never get to be in the pictures. This little doodad solves that problem quite nicely.

I plan to get a photo gallery going here on the website to showcase some of my better work. One more thing on the list of things to do…