Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Learning a New Language


Boy is this photography thing tough.

For years, I've taken pictures, manipulated them in the computer and dithered along. Literally dozens of people have attempted to explain the intricacies of photography to me.

Alas, all in vain.

The reality is I don't know an f/stop from an ISO from an aperture. I'm more of a shoot quick and fix it later kind of girl (as those of you who know me personally can attest).

I just love photography and all that it entails.

Except for that language thing.

I have long been of the opinion that photography is kind of like the old days of computers. Remember when, if you didn't know a gazillion lines of code, you couldn't open a document? DOS. What a gigantic pain!

God bless Apple for recognizing the need for a user friendly interface that made the computer a tool for the rest of us. (And I believe the iPad is the next step in that evolution, but this is a blog about photography . . .).

Anyway, back in the DOS days, it was kind of a good old boys club. If you didn't know the language, you really couldn't play.

And that's kind of how I view photography.

Get a bunch of serious photographers together and it's like they're speaking a foreign language. And no matter how many times you ask them to explain something, they just fall back into the same old language.

If you don't get it, tough.

Now I understand that back in the film days, the numbers may have been necessary, but in the days of digital are they still?


But I'm not sure. I believe someone (not me), should write a book, translating all this language into something that everyday people can understand. But people (read that as photographers) assure me that this is an impossibility. These numbers and phrases are necessary to the understanding of the magic that is photography.

So, instead of learning the language, I've just been wandering merrily down my own little photography path.

And, as regular readers know, I've been really happy with my Panasonics. I will be keeping one of them (and Terry will be keeping his), but I've decided it's time to step up.

My reasons are many, but mainly have to do with speed, detail and noise.

My Panasonic FZ35 is a great camera, I LOVE the 18x optical zoom (that's why I'm keeping that one) but it has limitations. If I want to shoot in RAW (a format I'm continuing to explore, where there is more "information" for the computer to use when processing), the Panasonic really slows down.

And you know how I like to take those hummingbird pictures. So speed is something I'm really after.

Then there's noise. In the digital world, noise is the grainy artifacts you see when there just isn't enough information for the computer to process. Smaller sensors (like those used in all point and shoots) are just noisier than their big brothers (the ones used in DSLRs,which by the way, stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras). Also, shots with inadequate light are prone to digital noise.

Then there's detail. This math I understand. A larger sensor is better than a smaller sensor, allowing for more detail. Lately the camera companies have been playing a game, suckering the public into believing that more is better in the megapixel department. They continue to cram more and more pixels onto the same size sensor, resulting in more noise and less detail.

Lately, I've been noticing all of this in my pictures.

Since we've been here at the Bosque, I've had the opportunity to play with a Canon 7D. More and more, I feel I'm ready to move up.

But there's that language thing.

After talking with Terry, it was decided that I am ready to face the challenge of learning all these numbers and I placed the order.

It came today.

So I'm starting on a brand new adventure.

But of course I couldn't wait to play just a bit. We jumped in the car and went down to the Bosque for a few quick shots.

The shot at the top is one of the first ones I took. I love how sharp and clear the bird is. Actually, we were walking along and scared him (accidentally, and he couldn't get out of there quick enough!), but I still got the shot. I probably could have gotten this shot with the Panasonic, but it wouldn't be near as sharp.

Next there's this fellow. Not a spectacular composition, but this is probably 1/8 of a shot, cropped down. And I still have this detail. Remember to click any photo to enlarge.

Another shot that I could have gotten with the Panasonic, but there would have been a lot more post processing, since the light was so low. This was just cropped and slightly sharpened. I love these kinds of shots and will be happy to get more of them in low light with all this detail.

I'm trying to learn about Depth of Field, where part of your picture is in focus and the rest is kind of fuzzy. This isn't a great example, but I really like the color of the sky reflecting in the water.

This shot is included here just because I could get it. I shot this straight into a street lamp. This is only cropped, and look how nice and clean those blacks are. I'm going to be loving this camera.

One final shot . . .

I KNOW how unclear this is, but for me this will be the memory shot, the one I remember.

One of the reasons I wanted this camera was to shoot birds. This camera is very fast (8 frames per second) and I have high hopes of success. Unfortunately, this isn't a successful shot, but I wanted to keep it to remember where I started from.

I took a bunch of shots to get this, and they were all out of focus, because of user error! I had the focus set wrong.

But I will learn and my pictures will get better and I will look back on this and remember when I didn't know an f/stop from an ISO.

And I will
also remember
this beautiful bird
and the great day we had.


Paula said...

Congratulations. Use it in good health and with great joy!

Ed said...

So you shot these pictures today (February 23, 2010) with your new Canon EOS 7D 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR.
However, the side bar claims that "Since mid March of '09 I've Been Shooting With This Camera" then a picture of the Canon EOS 7D 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR.
I'm confused!

Kate said...

Ed, you do realize this was a year ago don't you? It was an error.