naivety of an amateur photographer

Right!  So I’ve lasted as long as I could.  It was only a matter of time, really.  I’ve finally given in.

If you’ve been around my blog before you’ll know that I’ve taken up my long-lost almost-hobby of photography in earnest earlier this year.  At the beginning of time I had a small 35mm camera.  I rarely used it because it was (is) so expensive to get the film developed.  It sometimes meant  having to save up for a month or two before I could hold the pictures in my hands, and by that time I’d already forgotten what/how I took a photo.  A person can get really frustrated and unhappy that way, so I decided to let it go.

When digital cameras came onto the market I felt a faint stirring of optimism at the possibilities.  No more buying of film, no more saving to get it developed, no need to try to work that extra expense into the budget.  But it’s been such a long time since I took any photos, and it wasn’t all that good anyway, so should I really spend a lot of money when I buy a digital camera?   That’s the question I struggled with.  Here’s a bit of advise for you – if you are looking for a good way to get demotivated, do what I did.  Instead of taking time and saving money to buy a camera that received good reviews, I spent a few hundred Rand on a very entry-level type thing.  For me, this was not the best way to find my way around digital photography.  No matter what I did, the photos just never looked good.  That’s not necessarily the fault of the camera alone, though!

The year before last I decided to upgrade to a better quality compact camera, the Canon Powershot A470.  At first it didn’t get used much either.  It took some encouragement and lots of reading before I finally started taking photos that looked like something.  I call myself an amateur photographer but realistically I’m probably more the happy snapper trying to photograph interesting things.   After only a couple of months I felt limited with what I can do with my newly appreciated little compact camera and I started to look at camera reviews with more interest.  Perusing other photoblogs ,and seeing what else is possible if one has a SLR camera, I started to dream big.  I want one of those babies!  But they are incredibly expensive to the average happy snapper, and even an amateur photographer.

How much good will a better camera do me anyway?  I have this notion that pictures should look good right off the camera, without software processing after the fact.  It must be something I held over from the “beginning of time” when it was impossible to salvage a photo that wasn’t taken in ideal conditions.  I’m still struggling to come to terms with the fact that the digital aspect of photography is a lot different from film.  The only processing I’ve done on the photos I took thus far was to use the auto setting in the software that helped correct the contrast.  That doesn’t count, right?! 😉

I still have so much to learn, but upgrading my camera equipment might help, so I gave in.  I splurged and bought a Canon Powershot SX30IS – the closest I’ll get to a SLR for now.  Sadly it arrived at a busy time so I’ve only managed to take a few practice shots with it, after which I discovered I have even more to learn than I first thought.  There is a world of difference between the A470 and the SX30IS.  I’m really looking forward to “getting it right” with my new toy!  And I somehow have to make peace with the fact that I may need to do some serious photo processing.  As you can see from my first “stitch” attempt, I need to learn fast – I have no idea if I can doctor this one right!

a bit of beach - jeffreys bay


10 thoughts on “naivety of an amateur photographer

  1. Congratulations on your new toy! I hope you have many happy hours with it.

    You were already taking very good photos with your compact after a “practising” for a relatively short time. I think your learning curve with your new camera will be even steeper.

    Very nice panaromic shot of Jeffrey’s Bay. Brings back fond memories of walks we used to take there. Also was were Willie proposed to me! 🙂

  2. I love that stitched image! I need to learn how to make those. Your new Canon looks similar to my old Canon Powershot S3, which is a great camera. I still use it frequently even though I have an SLR now too. Good luck!

    • Thank you!

      The SX30 looks to be the big brother (or sister?) of your S3.

      The camera actually has a setting one can use that will take the stitch photos, but I haven’t used that yet. It’s kinda fun and challenging to take the photos with a bit of overlay and then have the software stitch it.

  3. If this is your first Pano, you are off to a wonderful start! Just remember to get out there, take a shot of that silly looking stick on the ground, or the cool formation of the rocks. The important thing is to get out there and have fun!

    • Hi David, thanks for visiting and leaving a comment!

      My new toy makes it much easier to take pano’s. Next up is getting a hang of doing macros with it 🙂 My success ratio is much lower with the wide lens than it is with the compact.

      I’ll be posting another one, or two, of my test shots to my photoblog. Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. Oooh! Ohhh!! You’ve bought a Canon SX 30 IS!!


    Last year, when my Canon S3 IS broke (I dropped it on the rock-solid age-old flagstones at the Castle in Cape Town… silly), I was totally bereft. I desperately wanted a replacement camera, because I just couldn’t cope being without one. Like you, I regard myself as a happy snapper who would love to call herself an amateur photographer, but I still tend to use the Auto function and pre-sets in stressful situations.

    The Canon SX20 IS was on the market, and a huge improvement from the Canon S3 IS, BUT we KNEW that there HAD TO be a replacement to that coming out last year… we felt it in our bones! 🙂 So we waited and waited, and interrogated all the photo shops, and monitored the internet for reviews…. But then I couldn’t wait any longer, and so we took the leap to a Digital SLR – the Canon EOS 550D. Massively expensive. I’m petrified of dropping it or getting it dirty.

    And then the Canon SX30 IS came out! If I had waited a little longer, I probably would’ve bought that one. (Although I have now gotten used to and very attached to my 550D) I think it’s an AWESOME camera, fabulous technology, SUCH a range of settings and functions to play with and learn… I think it was the best camera you could buy. Can you tell that I’m very excited for you? 😉

    • Thanks Reggie!

      Would you believe that I almost missed out on this one? I was considering a smaller PowerShot, until someone at work told me about the SX30.

      I’m still getting the hang of using the wider lens, it makes such a huge difference. I plan on spending a lot of my leave time getting to know all the ins and outs of this baby 🙂

      As for dropping it – please don’t even mention that! I made sure to attach the neck strap before I ventured outside for the first time, and yet I still find myself clutching it as if never to let it go. The poor thing must feel suffocated 😉

    • I’m totally with you! I also put on the neck strap immediately when I pick up my ‘baby’!

      And when I hand it over to someone else to take a photo, I quake inside at the thought that they might drop it… I’ve even gone so far as to fling the neck strap around their necks too, yelping “don’t drop it!!” I think I might be freaking people out…

      I read that your Canon has an awesome zoom range – 24-840mm. While your wide-angle is 24mm, my Canon wide-angle lens can get 15mm – which has proved very useful in getting more ‘sideways’ information into the picture, though it’s just on the edge of being distorted.

      My furthest zoom, though, is only 250mm with my telephoto of 55-250mm, so your range up to 840mm is IN-CRE-DI-BLE!!! I admit, I am jealous. 😀

      AND the bonus with your camera is that you don’t have to swap lenses. That really is a serious bonus. You don’t have to be petrified about dust getting inside the lens, or dropping either the wide-angle or the telephoto when you swap lenses. That definitely increases one’s stress levels.

      HAPPY SNAPPING, Clouded!

  5. Pingback: Guess who came for dinner . . . | Notes from Africa

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