This and That

Random bits of my life

First Week without the DSLR

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 9, 2010

This morning I went to the Israel Postal Company site, typed in the number on the registered mail receipt, and learned the fate of my beloved camera. It was sent yesterday morning from Har Hotzvim in Jerusalem to the store where I bought it on-line because it’s still under warranty. According to the site, the camera reached the main post office of Petach Tikvah and was sent from there to a branch post office where it’s waiting to be picked up. Whew! So far, so good.

This is my first week without the Canon Rebel XSi in almost a year and I’m feeling a little lost without it. I’ve had to borrow my husband’s pocket Samsung and relearn the controls on my old Canon PowerShot S5, so I’m dedicating this post to those of you out there who think you need an expensive camera and a suitcase full of lenses in order to take nice photos. Really, you don’t. You need to train your eye to spot a good photo opportunity and you have to learn what your camera does well.

I’m sorry, but that means you have to read the manual, too. Yes, I know that sounds about as much fun as enduring a second week of Passover, but it’s the only way you’re going to learn your camera’s functions. You don’t want to miss a great shot because you’re fiddling for the right menu or button. If you can’t find the manual, go to the manufacturer’s site and download a PDF. Reading the manual is always a good first step.

The second step is to take your camera out of its case every day and take some pictures. If you’re using a digital camera, it’s cheap entertainment. Transfer them to your computer and really look at them. Do you like how they’re turning out? If you think there’s room for improvement, do a search on Beyond Megapixels or Digital Photography School. Both sites have good articles on technique.

Training your eye is a little more difficult but not much. It doesn’t hurt to read articles about composition. Just don’t get bogged down in reading everything on the Web. The first thing to remember is that the goal is to become a better photographer, not a walking encyclopedia of composition rules (actually, this is a wonderful collection of photography composition articles but I don’t recommend it for beginners because it’s too easy to spend hours reading instead of taking pictures). The second thing to remember is that rules can be broken. If your photo violates the Rule of Thirds (which should really be called Guideline of Thirds), but it makes you really happy, that’s what counts.

Here are some photos I took today. They’re not fabulous but they’re not terrible.

While I was rinsing some uncooked black beans, I dumped a handful on a white plate. I set the plate on the kitchen counter, near the window, so that the indirect natural light shone on the wet beans. This photo was taken with a Canon PowerShot S5 IS, an 8 mp point-and-shoot in macro mode.

Black Beans

After the cooking was done, I went for a walk to and caught up on one of my favourite podcasts, This American Life. This wild thistle was photographed with my husband’s 6 mp Samsung S630, a pocket point-and-shoot, in macro mode. I stuck my hand through the bars of a fence so that I could hold the camera close to the flower. Try doing that with a big DSLR!

Wild Thistle

On the way home I passed a neighbour’s rose garden. Roses have a very short life in Israel. They are at their best in spring and early summer. By July, unless they’re receiving extraordinary care, most rose bushes look really ratty and baked out.

I love pink and gold roses. Normally I pass by this garden almost every morning when I go out for a walk or run, but the garden is on the western side of the house, so it’s always in shade at that hour. Since this was a Friday afternoon, the sun was in a much better position so that I could photograph the rose. Actually, it was a bit too bright, but the result is, in my opinion, acceptable. The sun wasn’t strong enough to bleach out all the colour. This rose would be gorgeous in the late afternoon light. However, at that hour the desert wind is very strong and I can assure you that taking macro photos in a strong wind is extremely frustrating.

Pink and Gold Rose

There’s always a trade-off in photography and most of the time you have to compromise (light vs. wind). I guess that’s the main lesson I’ve learned. I’d rather have my familiar DSLR but it’s in the shop for repairs. Now that I don’t have it, I’d rather be out there taking pictures with cheaper, less versatile cameras than sit around waiting for my camera to be fixed. :-) Shabbat shalom, everyone.

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6 Responses to “First Week without the DSLR”

  1. Shabbat Shalom to you. After reading today’s post, I’m heading out with my camera. I’ve started reading the book you recommended by Bryan Peterson and need to start playing.

  2. pam said

    This post contains some of the best photographic advice i have heard in a long time! You are so right! Get out and shoot. And shoot with your heart. And often.

    However…..I have to draw the line at reading that 5″ thick instruction manual!
    lol!

    • Avital said

      LOL! Sure, Pam, as if you really need to read the manual! Your work is stunning and you actually manage to make a living taking pictures. Most of us can only dream of doing that!

  3. Thanks so much for the advice. I’m hope to see thing differently through my camera!

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