Thursday, June 28, 2012

Digital Photography et al

I purchased my first digital camera in 1998, an open box, display clearance Kodak.  Originally, I wanted a digital camera for web design, photographing backgrounds, custom graphics, and, of course, chronicling my landscaping and gardening projects.  I even took some pictures of my children.  It is a given that I took a lot of  pictures of my children.

I'll be darned if I can find any pictures pre-1999, though.  They probably ended up on some floppy disk that got thrown away.  This is a good lesson to all of us to make sure to find a way to preserve digital photos as the storage media changes.

Moving on: my poor Kodak digital camera finally got dropped by one of the children.  The miracle is that it lasted as long as it did.  When I went in to Staples and other stores looking for a replacement camera silly me asked for something comparable in quality to my beloved Kodak.  The sales people suppressed laughs as they explained that digital camera technology was so far advanced from my old Kodak that even the cheapest camera I could find would far surpass its abilities.  Well, I felt silly and thrilled.  Really, that meant I could once again find an open box, clearance digital camera and be moving in the right direction.
"Take lots and lots and lots of pictures. Then take some more.  Take hundreds of pictures."
I ended up at Best Buy and purchased my next digital camera for under $100.  It really didn't take very good pictures.  I still took a lot of pictures, a LOT of pictures of my children, chickens, goats, and some plants.

That camera was again subjected to the youthful exuberance of my children and was dropped.  No more focus.  Again I had to attempt to swim in the ocean of digital cameras.  It was a short swim.  I ended up with another Kodak, another open box job for under $100, an EasyShare M340 because I like their color chip or whatever it is called.  They make good low-cost point and shoots.  Of course, my heart yearned for a Canon Rebel DSLR but those babies were expensive!

Does the camera matter that much? It depends on what you want to do with your digital camera.  If you want to chronicle family events, take pictures of your garden or dog to share with your friends and family it really doesn't matter.  If you want to head into more specialized photography such as songbirds or macros of flowers, bees, or other nature shots, a little research is necessary.  If you ever want to sell your photographs you need to invest in a camera that takes clear, sharp pictures.

How have I survived all of these years without purchasing an expensive digital camera? I process my photos on my laptop after I download them from the camera.  What program do I use to make my pictures look so sharp, intense and nearly professional? Paint Shop Pro 8.1.  Yep, an inexpensive alternative to Photoshop.  I love PSP.  I have used PSP since version 4.0.  Love, love, love it.  But sadly Jasc sold PSP to one of its competitors.  They sold out.

Corel bought up PSP and then dumbed it down to just a photo editing program.  I have not used the newer program but it probably does nicely for post processing photos.  I highly recommend it.

I am a die-hard PSP fan, though, and hold onto my PSP 8.1 and use it with devotion.  Below are some before and after processing with PSP:

Before processing with PSP 8.1
After processing with PSP 8.1

My Kodak takes okay photos.  I am again yearning for a better camera.  If I can figure out a way to make some money from a better camera I will invest.

I am looking at Compact System Digital cameras such as the Sony Nex C3 and DSLR's such as the Canon Rebel T3i with macro lenses for each.  Interestingly enough, those two cameras with the macro lenses are not too far apart in cost. 

I would love to hear stories of your digital camera choices and how happy you are with the end results: your photos.

Oh, and my one important piece of advice: Take lots and lots and lots of pictures.  Then take some more pictures.  Take hundreds of pictures.  Out of those hundreds you might get a handful that are amazing.  You just might!

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