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At the tail end of October the Southland Photographic Society hosted an Invercargill photowalk with Trey Ratcliff. Not only was it the first time that Trey had led an Invercargill photowalk, but it was also the first organised photo taking outing I had attended.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Trey, he is an adventurer, a traveller, an artist, a writer and a self-taught photographer who specialises in HDR photography
Immediately after the Invercargill photowalk, after looking at the photos I had taken, I posted just a single image to my Facebook profile, then did absolutely nothing else – until now. Almost two months on I thought it was about time I revisited the photowalk and again looked at the photos that I had taken to see what was salvageable.
As it was my first group photowalk, I had no idea what was involved so turned up a little unprepared having only my Nikon D5100 and a 40mm prime lens, as well as my wee Panasonic point and shoot. Most others in the group had their full kit and caboodle – extra lenses, tripod, and so on.
As it turned out, the body-lens combination I had worked against me in some respects.
One of the briefs Trey put to us before we started out was to take photos of the people in the group – lots of photos. I have never been totally comfortable taking photos of people – whether they are posed shots or just casual. I gave it a try but I still couldn’t shake that feeling of unease. Something to work on! A couple of my sneaky attempts are below. The one I feel worked the best is the picture of three group members converted to black and white and cropped.
Of the other photos I took on the night my favourite is the HDR-look photo of the Basilica. This image was processed from 3 jpegs from my Panasonic FT5, and even thought the bracketed shots are only +1/0/-1 I think the result is pretty good.
The other HDR attempt is the railway tracks.
Trey also talked about shooting into the sun. I had a crack at that too with not so good results. So bad in fact that I cropped the bright flare out of the picture – cheat!
All in all the Invercargill photowalk was a thoroughly enjoyable evening which made up for the number of poor pictures I took home.
Still I learnt a lot, which I guess is the object of the exercise.
New website for The Daily Photo
I have been working on the new website for The Daily Photo behind the scenes for some time now. Even though the new site wasn’t really ready I was hoping to get it live yesterday – 1 December – but I didn’t quite make it. So here it is today – 2 December!
Over the next short while I will be filling in the gaps as I work to complete the migration of the The Daily Photo from its old location to here.
I have also migrated my old blog – jpegs.co.nz – over to The Daily Photo.
In addition over time there will be more galleries and collections of photos for you to look at and hopefully enjoy.
Welcome to the new website for The Daily Photo gallery and blog – enjoy!
All Weather Camera As A Backup
When I started out on my photography adventures a couple of years ago I picked up a $99.00 14MP Nikon point-and-shoot as a “back-up” camera to my Nikon D5100 DSLR. While it was certainly not capable of results to match images from the D5100, it certainly was a very handy wee camera to have in my pocket – just in case!
But it died! and for quite some time my “back-up camera” was the 5MP camera integrated into my Samsung cell phone. Adequate – but most certainly not startling, and quite clumsy to setup and use if in a hurry.
But at the start of my most recent overseas trip – to Canada and the USA – I treated myself to a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 ruggedised, all weather camera. The reason I chose an all-weather camera was because I wanted a camera that could be used safely while in Alaska where rain, hail, snow and ice are the norm, and I was reluctant to expose my Nikon D5100 to the Alaskan elements.
After considering Nikon, Fuji, Olympus and Ricoh equivalents I was swayed by web reviews and decided on the Panasonic.
Having now used it for almost three months I am pleased to say that I am very happy with it, and the results from it. At the end of the day the Panasonic Lumix FT5 all weather camera is really still just a point-and-shoot compact digital camera, but there are so many things I like about it that outweigh the things I don’t like about it.
Here are some of the things I like about it:
- Rugged build- – the DMC-FT5 is a true all weather camera. It can be used in rain, hail, snow or shine – and also underwater to a depth of 13 metres; plus – it is shockproof. The specifications say it will survive a drop from 2 metres – and I can say from experience it has done so already on at least two occasions;
- It is small and easily fits in a pocket, or tucks away nicely in that small space left in your camera bag;
- This camera is very easy to use being a point-and-shoot at heart. I do most of my shooting using the Program AE mode, but it also has an Intelligent Automatic mode, manual mode (with limitations), sports mode, scene mode, panorama mode – and so on;
- It uses a Leica lens with optical image stabilisation;
- The screen is bright and clear in all but the very brightest sunlight;
- As well as having the facility to over-ride exposure by +/- 2EV it also has a bracketed exposure facility – admittedly only +1 EV and -1 EV, but that feature is quite handy;
- The built in GPS is great for travel pictures;
- While the image quality is not stand-out, it still produces sharp, well exposed images with vibrant colour from its 16MP sensor, and has generally acceptable levels of noise in the ISO 200-800 range, and acceptable chromatic aberration. However, shortcomings in image quality start to show in large prints;
- The on board WiFi works well (once you are used to it) with the Panasonic Image App which allows control of the camera from a smartphone.
Now here is what I don’t like about it:
- No RAW images – only JPEGs;
- No optical viewfinder;
- Only f3.3 (f5.9 at full zoom) which can be a little bit limiting;
- The battery – generally good for up to 400 shots with GPS switched off – dies very quickly with GPS on;
- I still can’t get the NFC wireless function to work;
- The battery cannot be charged by USB;
- Reviewing photos on an almost full SD-card can be slow.
To some up the Panasonic DMC-FT5 all weather camera is a good all round performer that has a solid feel about it. The solid feel inspires confidence in being able to just pop it in a pocket, or toss it into your camera back, and know that it will work and work well when you take it out.
I suggest that it would be probably fair to say that Panasonic have made a trade off in terms of sacrificing some image quality to ensure that the Panasonic DMC-FT5 is indeed a rugged all weather camera.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 all weather camera does what I want, when I want it! I like it!
Here are a few sample images.
Photo A Day – Lessons Learnt
Approaching the 70th day – and therefore the 70th photo – of my photo a day project, I thought I would pause and consider some of the lessons I have learnt. Not only lessons about the actual photos I have taken – but also lessons on the pros and cons of using a cellphone as the primary tool for this project.
The most important thing I have learnt since June 4th – the day photo number one was taken and posted – is that taking a photo a day is not actually as easy at it may first seem to be. Well, that’s the way I feel about it anyway, because unlike so many others doing the photo a day thing, I am trying not to take photos of what I eat or drink, or take selfies, or take otherwise meaningless photos just for the sake of clicking the shutter.
I still do my best to take photos of things that will, hopefully, interest more people than just me; and I also try to take photos of things around me that are reasonably positive and uplifting.
For the most part I think I have achieved that, but I’ll let you be the final arbiter on that point when you look at the pictures.
Also – further down the page is a gallery of pictures that never made it to my photo a day blog.
Lessons I have learnt and now pass on to you:
- Make sure that you always have you camera with you! It is surprising how many times I have left home without my (cellphone) camera, and had to get it later in the day;
- Walk around with your eyes wide open to see things that are there everyday but that you may not see. Look up, look down, look left, look right;
- If, like me, you walk a regular beat during your lunch break walk, vary the route you take – and get to see more;
- Look inside a scene for a mini-scene, or something a little bit quirky;
- Post process if you have time. This can give an otherwise dull and boring picture a bit of sparkle;
- Cheat a little bit when you have to. Keep a photo or two in reserve for those days when, for perfectly valid reasons, you can’t snap that photo a day – like one day recently when I was in bed sick all day.
Now the pros and cons of using only a cellphone camera.
Here are the pros:
- You nearly always have your cellphone with you (except in the case of #1 above;
- The quality of cellphone cameras these days is ridiculously good;
- You have to work a little harder sometimes to make/take the shot;
- There are a huge number of downloadable apps for your cell phone to use to edit your photos in-camera;
- With wireless and data connectivity you can post your photos to your blog or Facebook page straight from the phone.
Unfortunately from my perspective the cons are weigh more heavily than the pros.
Here is my list of cons in no particular priority order:
- Using a cell phone camera for your photo a day project can make you lazy! The temptation is always there just to take a photo for the sake of it;
- Cell phones with on board cameras may be small, but when you want to take photos of people in the street they are hardly very discreet;
- You have limited technical adjustments available. For example – at least on my Samsung camera – there is no Aperture Priority option; there is no Shutter Priority option; and so on. Sure there is a Macro focus option – but it’s just not the same;
- Slow to focus – this drives me nuts sometimes – especially when wanting to take a photo of a moving subject;
- Hard to use when wearing gloves on a cold and damp day;
- Not weatherproof. I wouldn’t use my cell phone camera in heavy rain any more than I would use my Nikon DSLR;
- You can’t see the bloody screen on a bright day so often its point, shoot and hope;
- It takes too long to access the special effects menus and then even longer to make a change to any particular setting;
- It’s okay – I’m going to stop at #10 – but my #9 con concerns freely downloadable apps to edit images. They don’t really cut the mustard, so I end up being tied to my PC if I want to use any of my PP software;
- In spite of supposedly being a point and shoot camera – you can’t just point and shoot. You have to enter the PIN code (if your cell phone is PIN secured), then you have to tap on the Camera icon…then wait…then wait some more…and by then, just when you are ready to take your picture – the moment has passed!
- I said I would stop at #10 – but there is a number 11 – a cell phone camera does not feel like a real camera!
Notwithstanding all that I have said above I am enjoying my photo a day project, and so far am very happy with what I have achieved.
In the not too distant future I will be starting to use a new camera – yes I am being spoilt and I am being treated to a new Panasonic FT5 all-weather camera, the primary reason for getting it being that I don’t want to go whale chasing or kayaking in Alaska and risk my Nikon D5100 getting wet, getting dropped in the sea, or frozen, or whatever.
So watch this space…..
My goodness – how time flies.
It has been almost two months since I last posted anything to my jpegs web site.
This has not been because I have been lazy, or have forgotten about this website. It is because I have in fact been quite busy with my photo a day project amongst other things.
I actually took the first picture of my photo a day project on June 4th using my (then) new Samsung Galaxy Ace cell phone camera and posted it to my Facebook profile.
My photo a day project – often referred to as a 365 project – was kicked off with the picture above – taken in an open air car park just across the road from where I work.
Since that first Facebook post on 4th June I have achieved my goal of taking a photo a day on all except one day, however there have been a couple of other days when I have chosen to post a photo other than the one taken on that particular day.
Here is a small selection of images from my photo a day project.
My photo a day project has been going now for 67 photos = 67 days.
I hope you enjoy the pictures – the majority of which have been taken with my cellphone camera.
For the past few weeks I have been trying to take a photo a day and post it to my Facebook profile. For the most part I have been reasonably successful at it although on the odd occasion I have either missed taking a photo, or have sneakily added one from the previous day.
I am doing this – taking a photo a day – because I want to see how difficult a task it is to achieve with a view to taking on a 365-day photo challenge that covers a full year. If I decide to do it in 2016 it will, of course, will become a 366-day challenge, as 2016 is a leap year!
So far nearly all the photos I have taken have been with my cell phone camera, the reason being that I nearly always have my phone with me. That’s the easy part – having a camera with you wherever you go.
The hard part, I am discovering, is spotting “that opportunity” and then taking a spur of the moment photo that is more, for example, than “here’s a photo of what I had for lunch today” (as is often seen on Facebook posts…), or “here’s a picture of me in the pub last night”.
What I am finding equally difficult is adopting an “I don’t care” attitude. By that I mean don’t care what people think when I stop to take a photo of something , that to an onlooker, is not worth taking a photo of, but has caught my eye.
I am hoping that sticking at taking a photo a day will become a habit (apparently it takes about 21 to 30 days to form a habit) and then I will be in a bit of a comfort zone and be more free about just snapping away wherever and wherever.
Anyway – here are some examples of my photo-a-day effort. All images here were taken using the camera of my Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 phone.
Enjoy! And please feel free to comment.
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