Learn With Your Canon Camera

Here is a great new site to play with Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO and see what the results are!


Have fun!


Article # 2 – Your Camera

One of the most common statements I hear when I am out photographing is “wow, you must be able to take great pictures with that camera!”  This comment has always amused me. Honestly what does the camera do? It captures what you point it at on some form of media. Period. If I take a picture of my foot with a $100 Point & Shoot or a $10,000 SLR, I  will still get the same picture of my foot. Maybe from the P & S I will get a compressed jpg version and from the SLR I will get a 25mb RAW image, but who really cares? It is still just my foot. So you ask, why then Mr. Smart Guy do you carry all that fancy gear? The answer is quite simple for me. When I am out in the field perched on a rocky ledge with a 500 foot drop off below me, or out in the pouring rain, or in a cold desert in the middle of winter I want my camera and all the components to work and to keep working. When I am hiking 5 to 10 kilometers a day, I want a lightweight, yet sturdy tripod that will hold my heavy camera and lenses. When I am taking a picture of a crocodile from 500 feet away I want to be able to see its eyes. I want my equipment to be reliable and to just work in every situation that I place it in. That is why I buy the gear I do.

Your camera: Whether your camera is a P & S or an SLR, READ the manual!! I cannot emphasize that enough. I have lost count the number of people over the years who have come to me asking me what this button or that switch on their camera does, or how do I do that with my camera? Every time I purchase a new piece of photography equipment I fully read the manual or instructions that come with it. For my camera bodies, I keep an electronic copy of the manual on my laptop that I carry with me on my photo adventures. Sadly as I get older, the memory gets worse and no matter how much you use your equipment, there are functions you may forget and a quick look at the manual the night before is never a bad idea!

I am most certainly not going to go into every different camera model here. Every digital camera out there has pretty much the same buttons and the same functions. They may be called something different, or located somewhere different, but the basic operation remains the same. Every camera has a shutter button. Yep, the button you press to take the picture. On some P & S cameras, pressing this button causes a momentary lapse of reason as about 3 to 5 seconds can go by before the image is actually taken. This has been improved over the years, but it is still sometimes frustrating to watch little Johnny leap into the air to catch that fly ball, and be back on the ground while your camera is still trying to take the picture.

Every camera has that dreaded green or Auto zone. Yes the zone where you let the camera decide every single thing about the image, all you do is press the button. That works great for Mom who just wants to take 400 pictures of you at Christmas. I consider it similar to learning to drive a vehicle with automatic transmission. You just put it in drive and go!

Usually on the same dial or the same menu as the Auto zone are other Auto zones such as Portrait, Landscape and Flower. Essentially what these zones do is adjust the Aperture and the Shutter and the Lens to the correct settings for the subject. In other words in the Portrait setting for example, the camera will attempt to use an Aperture so that the subject is in focus and the background is out of focus.

There is normally a way to change the ISO setting of the camera. The ISO on digital cameras acts the same way as film ISO did. A lower ISO (100 to 200) needs more light (lower sensitivity)  and is good for non moving subjects. A higher ISO (400 to 800) needs less light and is good for faster moving subjects. Todays digital cameras offer extreme ISO settings and the results are quite incredible! The noise (called grain in film) is much lower even with a very high ISO setting.

The Manual button or setting. Some P & S cameras do not offer a Manual setting. Sometimes the closest they can get is to give you control of the shutter speed while the camera sets the Aperture, or vice versa. Almost every SLR does. My cameras never comes off of the M setting. But that is just me. I want full control over my images. I want to be able to take an image, have a look at the Histogram and then bump up or down the exposure for example.

Image size. Most often found in a menu. This is where you set a size to the way you want to capture the image on the media. Large jpg? RAW? Both? There are several different combinations and while all cameras offer the jpg option, many P & S cameras still don’t allow you to capture a RAW image.

There are many other settings found in the menus on digital cameras. Flash settings, DOF preview, Image Review, and the list goes on.

I will say this again. Know thy camera by reading the manual and using the camera. Try using the different settings. See what works for you. Play! Have fun! Shoot!

Digital Photography Beginners Course

I am offering a course for people who want to learn about photography from a non technical approach. This course will focus, no pun intended, on how to take better pictures with your Point & Shoot or SLR camera. The course will be limited to 10 people.

The course will span 4 Saturdays during 2010. Each Saturday will be a full day of learning, shooting and reviewing your images. It will involve Nature and Landscape’s as well as Portraiture.

The course will take place in the Hamilton and surrounding areas. The cost is $150 per person.

For more information please e-mail me at craig@photographybycraig.ca

Happy shooting!