What camera should you use to get into “real photography”?

At least for me, the concept of “real photography” was something I became interested in a couple years ago. I started to wonder what made the difference between snapshots and photos people would want to hang on their wall. So I asked around through my 3D graphics forums and someone recommended I start with a Olympus E-PL1. It is rather inexpensive, and the basic lens it comes with, (they call them “kit lenses”) was actually quite sufficient. The best deal I found for this camera was at a store in New York called Cameta Camera. They worked with me to make sure everything was to my satisfaction. If they are sold out just give them a call to see when they expect their next shipment. There may be better cameras out there for beginners, but this is the one I started with, so I thought I would share my thoughts on it.

red_berriesHere is one of the first photos I ever took with this camera:This was from the backyard, on my first trial run. My family was quite impressed.

After a while, I started trying different objects on my computer desk. This next photo was taken within the first week. Change_of_hands

I was rather impressed by the Olympus E-PL1’s ability to capture skin tones among other things. It is great for closeups of non-fast-moving subjects, but because it is a bit slow to focus I didn’t have much luck shooting birds with it.

bluebird_crop

Here is one exception. I used a rather large lens on my tiny Olympus to get this shot. Feels a little awkward when the lens is bigger/heavier than the camera so I wouldn’t generally recommend such a setup unless you really don’t care about the imbalance.

To get started taking shots with no knowledge, you can set the knob on top to iAuto (full automatic), but I don’t like that setting because it triggers the flash (if the flash has been extended) when it feels necessary. On Canon models full auto will even forcibly pop up the flash (at least is does on mine). Luckily that won’t happen on the Olympus. Next, there is P mode. I like to think of P mode as “semi-automatic” since it works almost the same way as iAuto but does not trigger the flash unless you manually told the camera to use flash. It also does not change the “ISO” which iAuto does. “ISO” comes from the film days where different film responded to light with different speeds. A high ISO of let’s say 1600 would be good for nighttime shots, whereas a low ISO like 200 would be good for daylight. One problem with high ISO is a sort of noisy/grainy look. This comes about because the camera is trying to “fill in the blanks” or “see in the dark” and has to guess what is there based on what it can see. So for me, I don’t like to raise the ISO more than I have to, but setting ISO is beyond the scope of this article. Also note that some photographers can use that grainy look to their advantage to give their images a certain atmosphere.

As a beginner if you want to use flash and don’t want to learn all the details yet, you can start by simply switching to iAuto (with the flash physically extended) and switch to P mode when you don’t feel like flash.

More later.

Thanks for reading!

-Justin
JustinPhoto.net

Another cool idea to promote your art

Whenever a bunch of people get together online, it can become easy to get lost in the crowd. So it’s always nice when you can find ways around that. One simple way that doesn’t require heroic amounts of energy (we can build up to heroic as we go ;)) is to enter contests that go along with what you like.

In my previous post I mentioned Fine Art America as a good site to promote yourself. Well, they happen to have a bunch of contests going right this moment. I even entered my owl picture in one. The prize for the Portraits of Birds of Prey Contest just so happens to be a 1-month feature as a guest photographer at hovmandpaatur.dk with up to 20 photos featured. So if you are looking for ways of spicing up your online promotion, why not give contests a shot?

Sponsoring others’ images for greater exposure

So today, I thought I would try a little I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine. I recently signed up for an online art marketplace site called fineartamerica.com. They have a special sponsorship program where you can link to images from their site and get more exposure for yours as a result. For example, if I post a link for animal prints I can then get my animal prints shown on the same page in the next row down within the listings. Pretty simple, huh? Well, let’s see how it goes….

Here’s a sample from what I have available on Fine Art America:

Image

Party Time

Mingo

I started this blog as an experiment to see what having a blog on wordpress would be like. An overly-simple goal perhaps but I am not a blogger so thought I would try something new.

A couple years ago I bought an Olympus PEN camera and started playing around with it. Then I moved onto Nikon, then Canon, and then bought another PEN. I currently use a Canon 7D for wildlife and the PEN for everyday objects and such.

Here is a little sample of what I’ve been up to.

I hope my work inspires others to do something fun and artistic.

Peace,

Justin