Saturday, May 26, 2012

Be brave and save the long lens for lions

Bugs are surprising, especially in photos. Their wings are so delicate, their bodies prickly with stiff, sometimes colourful, hairs. They are just generally creatures from another place --- from a world too small to see.

When I got interested in photography taking good pictures of bugs was difficult, and it was expensive. Today all that has changed. Most point and shoot cameras have macro settings, often the icon for close-up photography is a flower, and many cameras will shift into their macro setting automatically. What could be easier?

What is left for the photographer? Answer: getting close. Try and capture a big image, one that reveals details generally hidden by the bug's small size. Bees and wasps are good subjects if you are careful and don't get them agitated. They themselves are very colourful right off the bat and then you have the colourful flowers on which they feed. Perfect.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Turning a weakness into a strength

My wife is not fond of hostas. Just a bunch of green leaves, she says. I, on the other hand, love 'em. I see colour, mostly green I grant you, but many have wonderful splashes of yellow and others sport dashes of creamy white.

I love the way the expand quickly in the spring, claiming the entire area of the garden they occupy as their own. The leaves swirl and overlap and, to me, they are as beautiful as a large, colourful flower.

When the hosta flowers appear in late summer, small purple flowers on long stems, their look is overshadowed by the plant's leaves. Still, the flowers are a nice addition to the dramatic, hosta presentation.

Capturing what I see when I look at a hosta means getting in close. It means keeping all in crisp focus. It means finding and capturing the mad swirls and twisting splashes of colour.

And this is a job than can be handled with aplomb by almost any point-and-shoot. I used my Canon S90 but I can't think of a PAS camera that wouldn't rally to this challenge. It is not just the aperture, the f/stop, that governs depth of field, deep focus in an image, it is the size of the sensor.

35mm cameras had more depth of field than their large two and a quarter brethren. Today's digital PAS cameras have even more depth of field than their 35mm counterparts. So much depth of field poses its own set of problems but here it is a solution and not a curse.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hey kid, time for lesson No. 2

Fiona has a hard time using my little camera. She gets her fingers in front of the lens, or worse she gets those smudgy fingers right on the glass. Holding the camera steady is a whole other problem.

I have a problem, too: Patience. I tend to run a little low on the stuff when she's got my Canon S90 --- a camera she has taken to calling her camera.

Seeing a purple flower, she wanted to use "her" camera. I had to remind her to keep her fingers off the lens. I had to tell he not to get too close. The camera can't focus when you get in too tight. To which she asked, "What's focus?"

She took picture after disappointing picture. I kept encouraging her. She could see she had missed the shot from viewing the image on the back of the camera. But I could see the back of the camera as she c composed her shot. I could tell her to raise the camera or lower it. I admit to helping her crop the final picture of the flower that she so desperately wanted to capture photographically.

Thanks to bright sunlight, usually the bane of photography, she had lots of depth of field and a quick shutter speed to stop the camera wobble. She doesn't have the steadiest of grips.

It was tough, on both of us, but I think it was worth it. The little girl got her shot of the purple flower.

Now, if you've got some little ones in your life, give some thought to letting them use your camera. It is not a toy. This is not just play. But, this is fun. Stay close, don't let them abuse the camera --- on purpose or by accident -- work with them so they can share their view of the world with others.

Good luck!