Monday, February 11, 2008

Are You and Your Camera Best Friends.....

or just acquaintances? Are you on a first name basis or is it still, "Mr. Camera?" Do you find yourself sharing little secrets and inside jokes, or do you rarely talk about more than the weather?

If your answer to all of the above questions was "Is this Lady insane?", no one will blame you. However,if the answer was always the second choice, well then we may have the key to your photo trouble. All too often, we get a new camera, flip through the manual long enough to figure out where the battery goes, how to turn it on, and how to get the pictures out of it. Then the Manuel finds a place of honor somewhere in your house, that is most likely even a secret to YOU. Am I right? I am betting that for most of you, your manual is NOT nestled snugly in your camera bag, nor does it ever find itself tucked in bed with you for some bedtime reading.

Believe it or not, the manual that came with your camera is a wealth of information, and should be considered required reading. In my experience, most problems people are having with their camera can be solved, or at least bettered, by simply looking up the solution in the manual. I understand that to some people it is dry reading, and possibly over technical, but it really is the key to taking better photos.

It is impossible for me to tutor each and every one of you on how to get the best photos out of YOUR camera, since each camera has it's own capabilities. Each camera has it's own specialities, and challenges. Only by learning to use YOUR camera properly, will you know if YOUR camera will meet your needs or desires. It is a mistake to purchase a "better" camera, before fully understanding the one you have. How on earth can you possibly know what you WANT, if you don't know what you HAVE. For instance, when I upgraded to a DSLR from my Canon Prosumer Point and Shoot, I had reached it's full potential, and knew that I wanted a camera that could handle low light situations without the use of a flash, and with minimal noise. If you read that sentence, and got lost....you might not be ready for a DSLR. As I have said before, too many people rush to purchase a "fancy" camera before even understanding the functionality of one. Then find themselves just as frustrated as they were with their old Point and Shoot, if not more. Here they have spent big bucks....and still have the same problems. I know that would send me over the edge.

So, I am here to convince you, that before you dream of bigger and better, just spend some quality time with the one you have. Read the Manual. If you can't find it, request a new one. Read each section, then practice what you learned. If you do not practice...you will forget. Take it step by step, and learn all the settings, and figure out for yourself which settings you like for which type of photography. You may find that your problem is fixed through shooting in a different mode. You'll never know until you try. All digital cameras these days offer many different modes. Learn about them....and give them a go.

After all that,s ometimes we find ourselves stuck. We have a problem with our camera, and after much searching in the Manual we still can't solve it. A great resource I found online is called,
dpreveiw.com. This website is wonderful for many reasons. You can read reviews of nearly all cameras out there, and do a side by side comparison of their features. However, the reason I am mentioning it here is the fact that each BRAND of camera has it's own Discussion Forum. These forums are soooooooooooo valuable. Tons of photographers come there each day to just plain old talk about their cameras. You can search for your specific problem, and you are likely to find many posts discussing the very thing you are interested in. If you don't find what you are looking for, simply start a new post asking for help. For example, if you have a Kodak, and you want to know if there is anything you can do about your camera taking so much time between shots, just go on the "Kodak forum" and ask about it. Be specific about which camera you have. I have found that the folks on there are very willing to help out. Don't be afraid to jump on there.

If you are serious about wanting to get the best pictures you can out of your camera, it should be your mission to learn it inside and out. You will never regret it. Knowledge is power.

Coming soon....we'll be discussing lighting, photography toddlers, and photo editing. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know. Thanks! Now what are you waiting for....go dust off your Manual. NOW GIT!

*** oh and don't forget I'm on Top Momma!


CLICK HERE!!!!! You know you want to. Click it a few times in fact. I get a referral each time you click the link, and a click each time you click on Sugar's sweet photo. Isn't that fun? I can't think of a single thing I should be doing today other than clicking. Can you? ***

20 Live It or Love It:

holly said...

i am a software engineer. i always "rtfm". okay i usually "rtfm". okay, i have "rtfm" for my camera. but i *forgit* a lot of it, so i have to keep reading the dang thing. i have other things to do with my life, corey! the laundry doesn't care that i'm reading the thing. the dishes won't do themselves, and my kids' spaghettios won't microwave themselves, love,
oh oops. said too much again.

Beth Ellen said...

I read my manual after everyone stops helping me. ;) (joking...)

MamaGeek said...

Agreed! Not only do I read every single word of every sentence of every page of the manual, but I also buy and read the field guide (which, BTW, for the xti is pretty good).

jennwa said...

You sound like my husband,"Well read that manual." You guys are no fun, even if you are right.

I passed an award on to you, see you soon.

Lori- Fairytales & Margaritas said...

My problem is I don't even understand the stuff in the manual. I think I need a general photograpby book first.

Terry said...

I have been reading my manual also and learning bit by bit. This weekend I decided to get the camera out and try some of your suggestions. I tried not to pose the kids and just point and click away. I tried to get close up and even used the tilt idea. I took some photos of my DD tying her shoes and her hands. I am working on experimentation. I do feel discouraged because the quality still isn't like yours...for some reason. I still have to work on figuring out indoor lighting and if my camera has limitations. I am also thinking of taking a class. One suggestion...can you discuss how you get the background in your photos to blur. I love that affect. I can't seem to figure it out.

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

Hmm . . . you just confirmed that I AM ready for an upgrade. Noise and general crappiness in low light? Yup, I've got that and it drives me crazy. I've read the manual, scoured the Internet, and it just is what it is with the camera I have now (that's what happens when you pay about $120 for a camera, I do believe). And -oh- how I loathe the slow shutter speed. Ugh.

I love that you just gave me permission to buy the DSLR I have sitting in my Amazon shopping cart. :-)

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

Hmm . . .It's the number one image for "fat baby bikini." Also the cutest of the results, by far.

Autumn said...

Well you know how well I read my manual.....stupid shoot with no card setting... Anyhoo, I did go back through and read the whole thing. Now if only I could retain all that information. Can you help with that? What was I talking about?

Jenty said...

Good point! I learnt by trial and error, and it took a looong time. ...and taking a photo a day helped a heck of a lot!

Childlife said...

Good advice, as always : ) I actually did read our manual and still refer to it, but I should spend some time practicing with different modes and settings so we are not on "Mr. Camera" terms : D

Huckdoll said...

Yes, I know nothing about my camera and it scares me. Sometimes I love the way the pictures come out, but mostly it confuses me and makes me want to cry!

I will make it my mission to learn!

MaryAnn@MountaineerMommy said...

I totally need to read my manual. I kinda get my camera but not as much as I should.

ispeakbeanish said...

Thanks for stopping by and for another great photography post. You are so right about the flash being brutal. There were plenty of photos yesterday that were just off. My camera is a fairly basic point and shoot model, but I need to play around with it some more. One day I'll be ready for an upgrade. Can't wait for your next post!

Mama Zen said...

Uh-huh. RTFM!

Lindy said...

Yah I uuum hardly ever read the manual. Damn it I knew I was doing something wrong!!

CMB said...

Great topic. I bought the DVD to my new camera because I KNEW I would not read the manual. I have only been able to get through the first chapter on DVD, but it is much further than I would have gotten if I was reading.
I am looking forward to the info on photographing toddlers. My daughter will not let me take her photo!

Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

I TOTALLY agree on reading the manual. I read mine cover to cover in the first week I got it. Read it then practice with the camera. I also found Ken Rockwell's site to be super helpful because he has an alternate user's guide for the Nikon D40. Supreme advice, friend.

LIGHTING! I need help with lighting. I love my external flash and it helps me a lot, but I would love to improve in this area in every way.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Corey, you are so right. I haven't even glanced at my camera's manual. I keep thinking I should, then I do other stuff instead. I will though, soon, I promise.

Carolyn said...

I agree with this post, but I also agree with what Lori said - sometimes I don't always understand the stuff in the manual. I more of a learn by doing sort of girl. Manuals leave me a bit cold. I take a picture, make an adjustment, take another, adjust again. Trial and error is how I'm getting better. And when I really can't figure out what's wrong, then I head to the manual. Anyway, that's just me. Yours is still great advice...

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