So you got a camera for Christmas, Now what?


So you got a camera for Christmas,
Now what?

FTLComm - Tisdale - Saturday, December 27, 2003
Though many of us have been using digital cameras for some time this Christmas they were particularly popular gifts in many homes and with the flash going off and media cards filling up it is time to discuss how this means of capturing an image is significantly different from using film.
The advantages of using a digital camera are well known and we need not go over them at this time but it is many of these properties of digital photography that require attention and therefore you need to think through what you are doing with this great means of documenting your life and your experiences.

Perhaps the first and most important aspect of any photograph, film or digital is that it is in itself a valuable record of a moment in time and therefore you need to have respect for that moment and since no one knows the future we never know just what value an image is at the time it is taken. One of the advantages of the digital camera is the ability to erase that picture if it is not "good" as you view things. My advise is to avoid editing your pictures or erasing them from the camera for two important reasons: the first reason is that this kind of self evaluation and reevaluation leads to a sort of false reality for you, the second reason is that there is a more than 60% chance you will expunge pictures you will want to have kept.
Several printers are now available that allow you to print directly from your camera. For the individual who wants just to have prints of their pictures this is great and very inexpensive. For others who might want to be able to use their pictures in other ways there is a need to establish a routine, sequence of doing things that will preserve your images just as you might have a way of organising your negatives in the past.
Here are the steps that I would recommend you follow to keep your pictures and have them available for the future,
  1. Download your pictures to your computer and place the raw images as they are imported from the camera in a file with the day they were downloaded to identify them as the file label.

  2. Place this file in a file for the month and year in which they were taken.

  3. When you have enough copy those months onto a CD to be your permanent archive.
Every single image you see on this web site is modified. I correct for exposure and colour since the pictures used here come from different cameras and different situations I want a consistent look to this web site and digital cameras tend to over expose all images. This means that all pictures I use are changed I store the changed pictures in another place but make sure I keep the originals unmodified.
Now for some simple tips:
  • Whenever possible turn off the flash and take your pictures using the natural light of the scene. Since inside this will mean that you need a really steady hand to get your pictures a tripod is a great investment.

  • Though many of the new cameras come with telephoto lens your pictures will always be made with wide angle or one to one magnification as these pictures are less likely to suffer from the jitters and you will have sharper focus.

  • With your camera on wide angle or what you see rather than a telephoto there is no real need to get your eye into the view finder. You will make excellent pictures if you learn to hold the camera at arms length and use it to cover the subject you are trying to capture.

  • Waist high images are particularly attractive and when ever possible move your camera down from eye level to your belt height.

  • To get a steady shot without a tripod jam the camera up against a window, door frame or some fixed object to get that shot that may be a bit jittery hand held.

  • In your vehicle jam the camera against the side window to avoid the camera's reflection.

  • Don't be afraid to try things out at night, you will capture amazing images and there is no film to waste.

If you are still just thinking about buying a camera there are some important things to know. No matter how great your camera the best pictures are created by the eye and instinct of the photographer. Don't be sucked in by the idea that you "need" an expensive camera. For starters buy an inexpensive camera and get used to the idea of using it and storing your pictures. The cameras shown here are all the bottom of the line, entrance level cameras but each of them will produce outstanding results. When you have determined that you want to make digital photography a serious hobby then you can think about spending serious money.
As for care and feeding of your camera you should purchase an extra media card for your camera, it is like an extra roll of film but it also helps in organising the pictures you take. Digital cameras are not unlike film cameras, they do not fall well. Besides being susceptible to damage from dropping they have problems with low temperatures this means you need a protective case for your camera and always carry extra batteries.
When you send pictures as attachments to friends and relatives save them as ".jpg" this format "medium" compression can be seen on a web browser and will open in email. Avoid sending a "tiff" or working with a bit map picture.
One other really important piece of knowledge is to realise that when you print a picture in your ink jet printer the printer is the least important part of the process and the most important thing is the paper you print your pictures on.
If you have some specific problems you would like to know about send along a question and I will do my best to help you out or call upon other experts to get a solution.

Timothy W. Shire


Askey, Phil, Canon Powershot S20, January 2000
Sony CyberShot DSC-P72
HP PhotoSmart 635



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This page is a story posted on Ensign and/or Saskatchewan News, both of which are daily web sites offering a variety of material from scenic images, political commentary, information and news. These publications are the work of Faster Than Light Communications . If you would like to comment on this story or you wish to contact the editor of these sites please send us email.

Editor : Timothy W. Shire
Faster Than Light Communication
Box 1776, Tisdale, Saskatchewan, Canada, S0E 1T0
306 873 2004