Getting the MOST from your Digi
On a recent trip to New York, I brought my little point-and-shoot Sony. It is a little smaller than a deck of cards with a huge 2.5 in LCD, and an internal -vertically moving- 3x optical zoom lens from Carl Zeiss. It is housed in a sleek aluminum casing, with extremely simple yet effective controls off-set to the screen. The battery life is over 2 hours on a full charge, and I recently purchased a 4 GB Memory Stick PRO DUO, which holds thousands of full 6MP resolution images, and or about 1 hour of TV quality movie. The model number is SON DSC-T9, (now replaced by the T10 and so forth), and I payed around $400 US dollars for it.
|Most people will say that you need a huge camera to produce amazing images... Watch my credit card sized Sony get put to the test on the streets of NY!|| ||
Years ago I worked at Circuit City, and was frequently surprised at how many people thought bigger was always better. Having enjoyed photography since high-school, I too was raised on the notion that you had to have a big camera to get good photo's. I will say, today that is still mostly true concerning the world of professional photography, but in no way do I think we all need to run out and buy the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark 2, (Canon's $8,000 flagship pro-camera).
First of all they are way too expensive for the average consumer, they are extremely heavy, and are unbelievably complicated to the novice- even amateurs and some pro's get frustrated with them. You have to be very careful of them when on vacation too, as they can cost as much as the trip itself. They are huge, usually require a large camera bag to hold all the accessories and lenses, and most certainly can not be stored in a shirt pocket. The most annoying thing about them for me is that you sure as heck can't hide the fact that you've got one, and any chance of remaining unseen, in order to capture a natural expression on someone's face or candid moment, is virtually impossible! With that said though, I own both. The big mammoth Canon for my photography business, and the little guy for trips just like this one to New York.
So I've decided to show you a few shots from my credit card sized camera, and hopefully ease the minds of those who are up-in-arms with the "bigger is better" battle. Now before we start I want to tell you that these shots took sometimes in upwards of 10 minutes to shoot -as I went through various settings to figure out what looked best. It was well worth it though as most people who know me all assume they were taken with my "Big Gun", yet "little" do they know...
So the first image I want to share with you was taken from within Central Park, looking out at an older part of the city. It was taken at around 2 in the afternoon, without a tripod. I simply set the focus to infinity, (so most everything would be in focus), and the ISO (formally ASA) which controls or sets the speed of the film, was set to 100. I also took the liberty of setting the drive option to "self timer", which allows me to steady the camera, press the shutter button previous to the capture, and perhaps hold my breath, to help prevent blurring. It was also very bright out, so I went into my exposure control and stopped down my aperture almost 2 complete stops to capture the sky detail, (clouds etc.) and also the water from appearing too bright. I always shoot in color as it allows me to choose later, if I wish to change it into a black and white image. The last step took place long after I had landed back home, at my desk, in Photoshop. I mostly used the dodge and burn tool and filters to create the dramatic, heavy contrast look, and that is "Old Central Park".
The second image was taken right out my hotel window in Manhattan. I did not adjust the white balance, which created the blue-ish cast, and odd colored lighting in the various windows. This happens because different light balances differently with different film, or now sensors. So that is why some of the light seems green, yellow, or what we consider "normal" white. I simply set my camera vertically on the window sill turned up my ISO to 400 (which is why it is a tad grainy), and with the self timer once again engaged... pressed the shutter. This image, as well, required some photoshop, mostly in the area of filters, (distort-lens correct, because of significant barrel distortion), and cropping, and also some dodging and burning. I call it "Good Morning Chelsea".
This third image was fun to take, as it allowed me to capture "real-life" on the subway. The camera was so small I held it in one hand, near the roof to get a wider view, and snaped away. Each time I snapped I would twist the camera just slighty in a clockwise directon, to create the hazy soft edges you see. The ISO was set to 100, and I had the focus on infinity. If you look closely you'll notice the people toward the center of the frame and closer to the bright over head lights stayed fairly in focus, while those in the shadows and close to the edge of the frame blurred slightly and seemed almost to fade into a vignette around the photo. It was also later inhanced in photoshop, to emphasize the motion blur, and vignette effects. It is named simply..."The Commute".
The forth image is a photo of the Brooklyn Bridge. This one turned out pretty good considering it was very dark at the time and I had to balance the tiny camera on the edge of a walkway bench. I set it to "night mode", or the pre-set with the moon symbol on it, and set the focus to infinity. I then started the self timer, and held my breath until it clicked. it was really a tough shot, so it took a while to nail it. Even my heartbeat had to be slowed to allow the picture to be sharp, and crisp. The way I check if things are sharp on these small screens is to zoom into something with detail, like a logo, or sign, or in this case the support cables of the bridge, and the the Skyline in the distance. "Red Brooklyn".
This fifth one took a while to get right as I had to keep running back over to the camera after the self timer had fired the shutter, checking to see if I had got the right shot. I set the camera to a mode, known only to the Sony's that I am aware of, called "Magnify Glass Mode". This mode allows the camera to focus on objects almost touching the lens! It tends to create radical depth of field which really pin-points the focus of the shot. I used some napkins in my pocket to prop the camera up in a tilted position, so as to get the angle I desired, and processed a vignette around the edges later in Photoshop. "Parkway".
The last image I am sharing with you is that of the beautiful new Apple Store on 5th Avenue. This was a fun picture, one because of the subject matter, and two because it just ended up looking really cool. It had just rained earlier, and the big courtyard area outside of the Apple store was shimmering with water. There were these short bordering walls of the courtyard which were made of jet black marble and they had beads of rain water puddled up all over them. So I used my shirt to dry a small area of marble that would not be in the shot. Once again I used a vertical position with the camera, propping it up with my wallet and -believe it or not- my subway pass. For this situation, being it was nighttime I changed my camera mode from program, to the pre-set night exposure. This is of-course because it is far too dark to record any image at all, without a long exposure. I did however, switch into "macro" mode to exaggerate the depth-of-field, or blurriness of the background, compared to the tack sharp, molten like drops of water in the foreground. While using the presets most features are somewhat locked or automatic, and dont allow for the changing of ISO and other settings. So once again I used a self timer, and after a long 10 second exposure, and a few tries, "Apple on 5th", was born.
So, hopefully I was able to show you what these little Digi's can do, and perhaps allow you to finally consider buying a camera smaller than a car battery. Just remember great photo's come from the art within the photo itself... not necessarally in the tool.
4 May 2007 - 11:28:51 -
Simply Amazing. Awesome Bryan.
8 May 2007 - 9:35:27 -
You have renewed my faith and hope in the digi!
15 June 2007 - 6:45:20 -
I am sure you have heard this one thousand times...but your work is breath taking. Absolutely amazing. Need an apprentice? I want to make my pictures look like that. :)
6 September 2007 - 18:54:14 -
Wow - those shots are amazing! Good work!
9 October 2007 - 14:47:42 -
These pictures are great! Makes me want to visit the place again.