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1.  INTRODUCTION -  A myth exposed?   Photographers must obtain the best, most expensive cameras with every accessory possible to enjoy this vocation/avocation; right?  No, not at all, or at least not necessarily.  The modern full featured digital point and shoot cameras and DSLR cameras have evolved to a point where quality photographs are in reach of almost everyone.  

The most important issue is the photograph, not so much the camera that took it.  

Concentrate on image content, framing, composition, light, lines, curves, shapes, textures, shadow, color, and artistic appeal like the "S" curve and balance in an object or other artistic shapes.   Make the image tell a story.  Try to see beyond the superficial.  Think of a subject and then go out and take pictures on that topic.  This is an excellent exercise in developing skill at telling a story with your pictures.  


Learn to see creatively!

Your camera body (for the most part) DOES NOT significantly affect the quality of your image. The less time and effort you spend worrying about your equipment the more time and effort you can spend creating great images. This does not mean you should ignore your camera user manual.  You should read it often and have it with you always. Modern lens technology  has made the difference between a prime lens and zooms a much less significant factor to the casual photographer. But, the right equipment makes it easier, faster or more convenient for you to get the results you are looking for.  The sensor size and mega-pixel count of digital cameras are factors in resolution that affect print size and print quality.  Modern automatic and program modes makes getting acceptably exposed images easy.  But as you progress you will want to switch to aperture, shutter or better yet, manual mode to get the very most from your camera.  Carry a tripod with you or at least in your car or nearby as using it will make a significant improvement in landscapes and everything else you photograph.  Tripods should not be carried into museums or crowded or prohibited environments.

The greater sensitivity you develop in reacting to interesting shapes, lines, volumes, shadows, colors and textures, the less you will find it necessary to search for interesting matter.  It exists all around you.

 You can take beautiful pictures like this - follow the advice.Many of the sophisticated camera features on expensive cameras purchased by amateur photographers are never used. So what good are they?  They are worthless if not used.  After exploring everything a good point and shoot camera can do, then carefully consider upgrading to a solid automatic digital single lens reflex DSLR camera that accepts interchangeable  lenses and allows manual iris, ISO and shutter speed settings.  But, remember this.  The consumer class DSLR's like the Nikon D90 have shooting modes like landscape, portrait, flowers, etc. to make it easy.  This let's you think more about the image and less about the camera - in the beginning.  More expensive cameras do not have these aids and you have to set the parameters up yourself.  This takes more time and may bend your thinking toward the camera and away from your subject - at least at first.  I am talking here about cameras like the Nikon D200, D300, D700, D3 and the Canon equivalents.  The D300 for example has four memory banks to hold four sets of settings but you have to set them up and label them yourself.  An advanced amateur or professional photographer is so familiar with their equipment they no longer need to spend a lot of time thinking about their camera and can devote "thinking time" to the subject.  Then, the expensive flexible camera becomes very useful tool in the hands of a skilled photographer who is intimately familiar with their camera, settings, switches, and menus.  This is why - 

never take a brand new or unfamiliar camera to shoot an important event.

You need to ask yourself, "What am I going to do with the images"?  If your answer is to take good photos of your family and vacations then something like a Nikon D40 is great and perhaps even a good point and shoot will suffice.  Although the prices of DSLR cameras are coming down to match high end point and shoots, the point and shoots are much smaller and fit in a pocket where the DSLR's will not - 


If you are interested in "Fine Art" photography as a hobby or for any business purpose then a DSLR is definitely a must.  Canon has an excellent line of digital cameras as well as Nikon.  Stay with Nikon or Canon for DSLR's or at least a well known brand name.

Lets talk about image size/quality for a minute.  

If your end images will be printed on 4 x 6 inch paper or smaller,  then almost any point and shoot camera with 3 or 4 MP or more will give great results.  You only need about  6 mega pixels or greater cameras if you intend to print  8 x 10 inches or intend on doing a lot of harsh cropping.  4 to 6 MP Point and shoot cameras can take wonderful family snapshots.  The law of diminishing returns comes into play when you progress to more expensive cameras.  Yes, they are better but depending on how large your end print is required to be or how much cropping you have done and how well you set the parameters and your level of photography skills and techniques, you may not be able to tell the difference.  Yes, if you magnify it highly and give it close inspection under a loupe, you can detect the differences. But, is this the way you normally view an image?  If it is, get as large a sensor you can afford. Larger sensors tend to have better dynamic range and sensitivity and allow heavy cropping as necessary.

 But don't presume the most expensive gear is the best for you. Having too much camera equipment for you level of experience and skill is a great  way to get the worst photo images.

The more expensive cameras and lenses will give you more quality you can see, especially in enlargements (8x10 or larger),  and if you have a reason for needing more quality or special features, an expensive camera can provide it.

But, your "Camera Does Not Matter" nearly as much as your technique and your eye for  artistic content.

Some Point and Shoot Digital Camera Suggestions


The most popular DSLR cameras


Test the accuracy of your cameras autofocus.


Understanding Depth of Field


Check your camera lens for sharpness with an ISO 12233 chart.

(Download and save and print the chart.)

How do you use the ISO 12233 chart?




Click the HD button and the full screen button next to it for the best viewing ^ ^

A Mysterious Adventure in Abstract Photography - Mesmerizing - Suspense - What was that? What's Next? What does it mean? - A study in effective use of digital photography, composition, abstraction, lines, curves, shapes, patterns, color, motion, video drama, and music.  All the images were taken with a Nikon D200 DSLR. Copyright 2009 Larry E. Dodd

 If you have trouble viewing the YouTube video's on this page - Download the free FOXFIRE (version 3.5 or later) web browser.  It is the only web browser currently able to properly present Adobe Flash videos on new 64 bit computers.  Foxfire has its own Flash plug-in that works!

Check out the following web page for great information on print size versus image pixel size.  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!!! http://www.design215.com/toolbox/megapixels.php


Question:  If I spend mega bucks on a high end camera body will I get better pictures?  Answer: Yes maybe, but also possibly no.  In fact possibly very worse pictures.  Why?  A high end body allows you more manipulation of the photography parameters.  If you set them wrong your image could be worse than the same shot with your point and shoot on automatic.  It is easy to bump a lever or a menu selection and not know it because there are so many levers, switches and settings you can forget how they are set.  With a high end camera you have to be more diligent and careful in setting it up. You could miss important fast occurring events because you bump the auto focus switch and move it to manual and the camera won't fire because the image isn't in focus.  That happened to me several times.  It can happen to you.

Better to concentrate on what your taking a picture of; curves, shapes, light, feelings, expressions, action, etc.   

So, in the beginning; 
save your money"  

and buy some good photography and art books, join a good photography club, and use the camera you already have today until you develop the skills needed to use a more sophisticated camera.  And go out and take "LOT'S" of pictures.


Here are two photography books that will help you.  You really need these books.  Please check them out, order a copy today - you will not be sorry.  They are of highest quality in both content and substance. You can only afford one?  Get a new copy the first one Digital Photography Masterclass by Tom Ang (I read and re-read mine often and keep it handy as a reference) and then get a used copy of the handbook! These books cover everything for the rank amateur to the seasoned professional! 
This is the most important thing you can do to improve your photography!


Scout your area of interest with your camera handheld so you can quickly view an image.  Then use a tripod.  Use a tripod.  Did I say, use a tripod?  Slowly compose and review the image while mounted on a tripod for stability and sharp images.  To make sure you got this hint - use a tripod - please, whenever possible and practical.  I know it is heavy and cumbersome and may look strange to others around you but those facts are exactly what you need to slow you down so you take the time to think about what your doing.  Otherwise you will tend to shoot away helter-skelter and end up with lot's of mediocre or worse, snapshots - not quality images.  

Get yourself some good photography books to study and consider local photography training classes. The wonderful thing about photography is there are so many areas it can take you.  You can experience the technical aspects of darkroom work (wet or with your computer), adventures exploring new travel sites, or just making a record of family events.   Picture of a bird with it's dinner.Combine it with your other interests; perhaps, fishing, flying, sports, travel, skate boarding, hunting, people watching, weather patterns, microscopy (See the micro-photographs on this web site as an example of what you can do with simple equipment.), archery, shooting, walking, biking, touring, playing, working, and a hundred other things including maybe even:  bird watching?.  No matter what your interest you can amplify its joy and share that joy with others through photography.

The photograph below graphically demonstrates the artistic rule of thirds.   This is a technique you Pictorial of what shooting by the rule of thirds means.can use to help you compose your photographs properly.   The idea is to place an important point in the picture, in this case the birds dinner, at one of the junctures of one of the nine blocks.  These points are marked with yellow dots for clarity.  For a landscape the horizon could be place near the bottom of the top three blocks, for example.  You do this while looking through your viewfinder and just imagine the image divided into thirds.  This is just a rule you can use.  There are many times when breaking the rules make a fantastic photograph.  Don't use it on every photograph just the ones where it makes sense to you.   It will help you to improve your photographs composition.  Also notice that the most important elements of this photograph, the birds top wing line, head, eye, and beak are all generally aligned along the bottom of the upper set of blocks. 

For more great photography techniques see >: http://www.photozone.de/4Technique/index.html


The basis of the "Rule of Thirds"


Presented by Arthur C. Clarke (54 minutes)


The most popular DSLR cameras











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