Living a dream as a photographer & filmmaker

It's Dark - Get Your Camera Out

Wherever you live, there will be a time when it is dark and dreary. Dark evenings can be a bit depressing but also great for photography!

When it's dark it can be refreshing to take pictures of .... lights! No, it’s not a misprint. And, of course, light is needed for all photography otherwise we would never see an image. But seeking out artificial lights on dark days can be rewarding.

Where do you find these lights? That’s an easy question to answer - everywhere!

Street lights, house lights, lights for bars and restaurants. Monuments lit up. Boats on water (don't forget the reflections), piers, lagoons. Cities and towns, buildings, shops, institutions. Roads and thoroughfares - lights form street lighting, cars, bikes. Fireworks, fairgrounds ..... Everywhere!

The great thing is that you can capture some fantastic images by using long shutter speeds at night (you will HAVE to use a longer speed in any case due to the lower ambient light levels). Longer shutter speeds will result in trails of light across your image if the light source is moving. This is particularly so when photographing moving vehicles - the front and rear lights can produce exciting and interesting effects.

Shooting at night can give spectacular effects and can make a familiar subject appear totally different. Worth a go.

Eric Hartwell runs the photography resource site and the associated discussion forums as well as the regular weblog at

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A Camera is Like a Woman

The Canon 20D - a semi-pro camera. Much reviewed, much used and much admired. With such expectation, I bought it but within minutes, horror of horrors, I hated it with a vengeance. In womanly terms, it was a hag on a broomstick.

But wait no longer - what is this, that's yonder coming, fair of cheek and sleek of hair, with a smile to die for and a body worth caressing? Why, it's the 20D (again) with a renewed brisk turn of step and a glint in its eye and an owner who's profusing undying love and eternal wonderment. So, what changed...?

Well, of course, it's no good taking a camera straight out of the box and snapping away, with all that diffused backlighting. Noooooooooooo, sir. One must get used to the controls, handle the machine with care and (very important, this) READ the flipping manual! Otherwise, random knob-twiddling results in random pictures. Most of which are as poor as ...... well, you get the idea.

So, dear readers, I read the manual and found the PARTIAL metering switch, and - hallelujah - it's made all the difference. I recommend reading the blurb. One day, all cameras will have lovers - it's just that sometimes they play hard to get. Enjoy.

Eric Hartwell is an enthusiastic photographer. He owns and runs the photography resource site and the associated discussion forums as well as the regular weblog at Anyone interested in getting involved contact him at

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Street Photography - An Introduction for Non-Photographers

Street photography is an approach to photography rather than a location, although the streets are the usual place that it happens.

"When I saw the photograph of Munkacsi of the black kids running in a wave I couldn't believe such a thing could be caught with the camera. I said damn it, I took my camera and went out into the street." Henri Cartier-Bresson

Alternatively it is refered to as no rules photography. The plethera of equipment (tripods, lenses,filters,lights etc etc) associated with "serious" photography is left at home, or better still in the camera store. Its just too heavy and bulky to cart around, takes way too long to set up and by the time it is set up the moment is gone.
Street photography is shooting from the hip.

Likewise the rules of photograph, the f stops, the shutter speeds, the rule of thirds etc etc are left in their dust jackets on Amazon shelves. By the time all the technical considerations are taken into account, the birdy is in another country.
Thank Canon, Nikon, Fuji et al for point & shoots.

It is just the camera and the photographer with their enthusiasm, intuition and open mind.

Street photography can be and often is: Out of focus; a tilted horizon; a soft focus.

Street photographers are optimists, for them the glass is always half full. They go out on a photo shoot with no plan in mind secure in the knowledge that this wide world of ours will provide. A subject, a situation, a scene will present itself all they have to have is the presence of mind to capture it when it does.

Street photography can be and often is: Odd things in the foreground; no central focus; odd crops.

Street photographers see the usual, the every day with fresh eyes. The reflection in a rain puddle, the colours in a crowd, the balance of a negative space. Their minds are open to all the stimuli that they see and they curse the days when they leave their camera at home.

Street photography can be and often is: very busy; a tilted perspective; upside down.

Street photographers are not only on the streets, they are at weddings,school concerts, next to you on the train. They look a lot like tourists, its their favourite cover but they are one without the big flash. It was left at home, the available light will do.

Street photography can be and often is: under exposed; blurred; suffering from vertigo.

Street photography is, what all photography is, a snap shot.
What shines through is the photographer, his/her interpretation of the scene, what they see in the situation, their reaction to the stimuli, the art they see in the every day.
Technicians take technically correct and often pretty pictures.
Visual artists, whatever their medium, create images that stimulate the mind, the heart and validate the human condition in all its guises. Because, after all, pretty is in the eye of the beholder and consequently very subjective, whereas art speaks to all who are prepared to listen.

Henry Bateman is an artist/photographer who finds his inspiration on the streets he wanders. His work can be seen at and this article with pictures at

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The Myth of Megapixels

megapixel race"...The fact is that megapixels are NOT everything. Despite point and shoot cameras now coming with up to 10 megapixels (Casio released one last month) their quality level is not necessarily as good as a DSLR with only 8 or so..."- Darren ( Digital Photography School )

For most things in life, more is better. As a business it's better to offer more features, more services or more products. What individual doesn't want to have more money, fame, or control over his or her life? So the same rule should apply to megapixels. And that's how the myth got started.

The Megapixel Race

Think of the rush to add more megapixels to digital cameras like the arms race between the U.S. and Russia back in the 80s. Each camera company felt the need to overcome the other, and the one number that made comparisons easy was megapixels. It makes sense. How would you rather compare 2 different digital cameras? Is it easier to tell that they are different because one offers low noise at ISO 800 while the other only offers ISO 400? Isn't it much simpler to say: "This one has 4 megapixels and that one has 5"? It made comparing cameras a lot easier. Notice the use of past tense. Why doesn't it work any more? Because today there are many cameras that offer the same number of megapixels. It's no longer enough to compare cameras on megapixels alone. Now you actually have to understand more camera terms to find the one camera that you really like.

What Megapixels Are Good For

During the rush to add more megapixels to digital cameras, something got lost along the way: what megapixels are good for. What also got lost was the fact that not everyone NEEDS an 8.0 megapixel camera. Despite what the ads and salespeople tell you, it's just not necessary for most of us.

Megapixels are good for one thing: printing your digital photos. The more megapixels your camera has, the larger the size you can print.

An 8.0 megapixel camera will produce beautiful prints at 12x16 inches, while a 4.0 megapixel camera is limited to 8x10.

What do the pros use? Anywhere from 16 to 22 megapixels. This is what's required for magazine and advertising work. It's no coincidence that their cameras cost anywhere from $8,000 to $15,000. You pay a lot of money for that many megapixels.

So what about average Joe photographer out on the street? If he rarely needs to print photos larger than 8x10, then a 4.0 megapixel camera will suit him just fine. No need for anything more than that.

Find Your Megapixels

The first thing that you need to decide before you go out and shop is how many megapixels you really need. Here's a quick rundown of how you might use your digital photos and the appropriate number of megapixels for each one:

  1. You want to e-mail to friends and upload to websites - 2 megapixels will get the job done. If you're never going to print your photos, you don't need a huge amount of megapixels. Less megapixels results in smaller file sizes for your digital photos, and will make it easier for you to e-mail them to everyone you know.

  2. You make standard prints - while 2 megapixels is enough for a 4x6 print, I recommend you go up to at least 3. This just gives you some additional breathing room if you get a spectacular shot and decide you want a 5x7.

  3. You don't like tiny prints - if what really gets you going is a nice 8x10 print, then you're going to want 4 megapixels or more.

When you decide on the right number of megapixels first, you're going to save a lot of money.

First, you'll save money on the camera itself, since the price of a digital camera is directly related to the number of megapixels it can capture. Here's the real kicker: you'll also save money on the hidden cost of owning a digital camera. What do I mean by this? Photos with more megapixels result in larger files which require more storage space. When you get an 8 megapixel camera, you are also going to have to pony up for at least a 512 MegaByte memory card to go with it to store all of those giant files.

Furthermore, all of those files are going to take up a ton of space on your computer's hard drive. If you're not diligent about weeding out the photos you don't like then your hard drive is going to fill up fast. With a 2 megapixel camera, you can get by with a 64 MegaByte memory card, and you won't have to worry about running out of room on your hard drive for a very long time.

In Conclusion

I hope this article has helped to debunk the myth of megapixels for you. If you already own a digital camera, now you know what all of those megapixels are really good for. And if you're just about to get a brand new digital camera, you'll save yourself a lot of hard-earned dough by making the right choice about how many megapixels you really need.

Chris Roberts purchased his first digital SLR camera 3 years ago, and hasn't looked back. He continues to learn and write about digital SLRs to this day on his web sites, the Digital SLR Guide and The Best Digital SLR For You

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A Primer on Digital Cameras - Everything You Need to Know

It wasn’t long ago that digital cameras were essentially for the rich and the geeks; if you spent just a few bucks you didn’t get anything worth having, and if you really wanted something good.. well, you’d better be in the book about the Rich and Famous.

Technology and costs have changed drastically in the last few years, and it seems as if today that digital cameras nearly outnumber all the classic film cameras, and to all but the classic photography buffs, digital is the way to go.

Even traditional photography studios use digital, often in combination, with film.

Why? What’s the attraction? Instant availability and the ability to discard unwanted photos without cost penalty is one main attraction. The second is the ability to share, publish, store your pictures.

The purist will still argue that for professional grade photography and the widest range of effects that film is the only way to go. If he were shooting today, it is doubtful that Ansel Adams would be using digital.

For the rest of us, digital seems to be the way to go.

Now assuming you have not yet made the plunge, the biggest question is "Where Do I start?" or "What do I buy?" or "How Do I Compare?"

Articles have been written on just these subjects and if we were to expand on all, this article would be a text book instead of just a primer. You can do a search on any of the popular article sites to find many articles just on that subject, (one site for example is Article, but not to promote one over the other.. chances are you may be seeing this on an article based site). You can also use search engines.

But sometimes it’s nice to have interactive expert advice. We suggest you read and research for background, but then for selection, visit you closest specialty photography or camera store. One where that’s all they sell.. not a general all purpose discount or department store that probably has that department "manned" with part time help.. but go to the specialty store. The person will know what to ask you and how to guide you.

Your biggest question will end up being an ethical one: After you have been taught and guided, do you buy from that store, or take your knowledge and model to the internet or a discount store and make your buy. If you do, keep in mind that the full service store may offer just that.. service after the sale; maybe an upgrade trade in policy, and other intengiblesthat must be assigned value.

Before you venture out, choosing the right camera begins with asking yourself "What do I want this for?" "What kinds of pictures do I expect to be taking?" "How many at a time?" (Addresses memory and storage issues). "What kind of light will most of my pictures be in?" "Will I be carrying this camera for long periods of time?"(Think of weight). And lastly, and this is important.. What kind of batteries does this camera use; how available are they, and what do they cost? Most digital cameras are real battery hogs, so it is important that batteries are readily available.. and possibly rechargable.. but if you are on a 3 week safari in Africa and you don’t have chargers handy.. what are your options? How many pictures? Memory cards available easily? Or do you have to dump and download often? On a long vacation you don’t want to shoot all day and fill up.. and then not have a computer handy to dump into?

Compared to film where it’s just "pop a new roll" digital cameras purchased that don’t match the photographers needs can be a detriment, not an asset.

Once you choose, then you need to know how to compare pricing and benefits.. but that’s the subject for another article.

Choose wisely and you’ll love your new camera!

Joe Leech is a serious amateur photographer, not only shooting "snapshot" photos but also professional. is a great resource on the subject.

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