Friday, April 30, 2010

47/365 Project Point & Shoot: Lesson #1

Below are some of the first few images out of the $60 Polaroid Point & Shoot.

First, I have a little confession. After it became apparent that Sayid was merely a shell of his former self, I knew I needed some kind of picture-taking device that I could throw in my purse for on-the-fly photo ops like this one. So, do you know what I did? Well, I searched Amazon for the cheapest point-and-shoot I could find with a reasonable number of basic features and quality. That's it. I researched this decision for oh, about 7 minutes. And most of that time was spent investigating the color options.

I know.

But here's the thing: This is a great little camera. It's got tons of preset features AND full manual settings. That's the holy grail of point-and-shoot digital cameras. Why so cheap, then? Well, it doesn't carry the name of either of the two heavy hitters in photography, and honestly, navigating the features isn't exactly seamless or quick. You have to use the menu to make most changes, but for 60 bucks? I'll navigate the menu all day.

So let's get on with it.

There are two things that you can do right this second that will make your pictures 100% better.

#1: For the love of Pete, disable the flash. Right now. You probably have a little button with an icon that looks like a lightning bolt. Press it or toggle it or do something that causes a lightning bolt with a line through it to display on your screen. Now leave it like that. Forever. Find other sources of light. Just don't use the flash.

#2. Change your position or angle. Get lower or higher. Try moving in closer. Whatever you do, get out of the habit of standing upright and taking pictures from normal eye level.

Here are some examples:

This is full AUTO with flash. There are no natural shadows, so the entire image seems a bit flat and washed out.

This is full AUTO with flash disabled. I used a desk lamp as the light source instead. There are more dimensions here, and richer colors. Granted, I could have adjusted the color in the editing process to tone down some of the yellow, but this isn't a tutorial in post-processing, right? Right. The lower light resulted in a loss in detail, but that can be remedied by moving nearer to the subject and the light source, which brings us to the next step--changing position.

With the flash still disabled (forever, remember?), but still in AUTO, I lowered myself to table height and focused in from the side. In order for the camera to focus at this close range, I had to push the little button with a flower on it. That switches your camera to MACRO mode. Use it when your camera seems to have trouble focusing on subjects up close.

Much more interesting, no?

Check out the foreground and background blur. That's what you call Depth of Field. It's good stuff.

Is that helpful? What else would you like to know how do to? Fire away in the comments.

And remember, your camera doesn't take great photos. You do.


Anonymous said...

I need a new point and shoot because mine suffered a massive fall in Las Vegas. It still works, but the lens is crooked and permanently open, so everything is a bit screwy. I'm glad you're doing this!

anne nahm said...

This is a good tutorial! Thank you!

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