Monday, January 31, 2011


Four years ago I bought a 5.1 megapixel camera. It was expensive, but all those megapixels! Wow! These days it sells for less than a third of what I paid for it (even with a lot of well-cared-for accessories), and now 14 megapixels sell for less than I paid for 5.1! But I'm told I shouldn't dwell on megapixels. It turns out they aren't the thing to look for. The thing to look for is the size of the image sensor (analagous to the size of the film) because the image sensor works the same way film does: the larger the image sensor (or film), the more detail in the photo, the bigger you can blow it up in your darkroom (now Photoshop), and the more you have to work with. So photography has changed completely... and not so much.

The mechanism for fixing light has changed but the rules for illuminating a subject haven't, and neither have the rules of composition. Old photography books can still teach you a lot about those things. It's easy to set a digital camera for the ambient light (How cool is it that now you can push a button to change the film speed instead of changing out the film?), and Photoshop can find a few good pixels in almost any shot you take, but the fundamentals: where the sun should be, how the subject should be situated, those haven't changed.

Obviously, I'm no expert. I just skim the surface of the camera's and the software's features, and so can anybody and make some very good pictures. But I warn you: once you have 5.1 megapixels, you'll want more.

Photography books at APL:

Digital Photo Madness
Real World Image Sharpening
Color, Light & Composition; a Photographer's Guide
Digital Photography: Top 100 Simplified Tips and Tricks
Digital Photography for the Over 50s

A couple of rebuses (names of authors):


Bubba said...

Ralph Waldo Emerson is the first (you made me laugh on that one) but I am stumped on the second. Just can't get it.

tim snead said...

Hint: The car is built by Zastava Corp.

Bubba said...

Victor Hugo

Thanks for the hint, I was never going to get that one!

tim snead said...

I thought of using the Yugo logo, but that was too easy.