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The Design Center / Creative Networking / June: "Design Books & Learning / July: Digital Photography  

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... good and bad of digital photography

This month, DTG readers and subscribers of the Design Cafe shared their reflections on digital cameras and photography. It was a banner month, with so many entries we had a hard time deciding who to publish!
We thank them all for their contributions...

Given up on film cameras

Beth writes:
      "I'm on my 3rd Sony (DSC-W1) and have given up on film cameras. I just returned from an annual week in the Colorado mountains and I'm blown away by the pictures I was able to capture... raindrops on needles, rain falling on lakes, wildlife that look as close as my arm... and instant hard copies at any number of local "PictureMakers". Digital cameras have changed the way I capture and view my experiences. All I have to do now is choose which pictures to erase or which angle to retake a shot at. And I can't beat how much money I've saved by eliminating the "buy film, process film, buy film" cycle. I'm spoiled! My computer of choice has always been a Macintosh and Quark is still my favorite software!"
[END QUOTE] Beth is a desktop publishing professional from Lincoln, NE USA

Advice: Learn your camera

Charles writes:
      "I bought a Nikon D70 after immersing myself in reviews -- it came out best in terms of features and price. I love shooting RAW. Once in PhotoShop with Adobe Camera Raw, there's so much one can do that seems like photography as opposed to messing with pixels. Favorte tip is to shoot RAW, save to CD or DVD and edit and tweak from the CD. That way, you have to save a copy and you still have the original. My favorite photo session is generally hiking and shooting. I love landscape photography. I like panoramas, but I haven't done any yet with this camera.
      Advice for buying a digital camera: read the reviews in mags and online. If possible, hold it in your hand and take pictures. It might be worth investing in a compact flash card for that purpose.
      Advice for digital photos: learn your camera. Run a checklist to make sure you haven't left something turned on that should be turned off or vice versa before shooting.
      General photo experience: lots of years with film cameras; early adopter with digital and wasn't impressed. Recently bought my spouse a point-and-shoot digital for snapshots (Nikon 4200) and was knocked over by the quality. My computer platform(s): Macintosh G4 (Quicksilver) 766MHz with BenQ 17" LCD; iBook G3 700MHz with 12" screen. Favorite software: PhotoShop CS, hands down."
[END QUOTE] Charles is a trainer in education from Manhattan, KS, USA photos/lunarmoth/

I absolutely LOVE to take pictures

Laura writes:
      "I have a Fuji FinePix S602 Zoom and love it! I absolutely LOVE to take pictures and would love to be able to do it more than I can now (at least more amateur'ish...) I live in the Capitol of SD and have lots of photo op sessions with my kids, and their friends. There are some absolutely beautiful places, close to home, to take beautiful pictures! I do my kids portraits at the beginning of the school year and am really working on my daughter (who will be a junior) to let me do her senior pictures. My youngest daughter loves to have me take pictures of the capitol, the lake, the beach, the backyard.... I use Windows XP Professional and love to edit photos...."
[END QUOTE] Laura is at trainer in education from Pierre, South Dakota, USA

No shutter lag in the DSLR

Jeff writes:
      "Which camera did you buy... and why?: Bought a Nikon D100 in 2002 was the best DSLR at the time after buying several Point and shoot cameras it was time to take the next step to something I would want to keep for several years before upgrading. Coming from being a SLR user I missed the flexibility and creativity that comes from interchangeable lens. Still to this day I have no desire to upgrade bodies it will take a few more generation of bodies.
      Camera feature you like best... or worst?: No shutter lag!
      Favorite tips & tricks for using the camera: To many to list but take it out of Program mode and get creative with Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority and just because its digital doesn't mean you should forget the basics of photography and start relaying on post processing everything which I see so many doing.
      Advice for buying a digital camera: At this point all P&S cameras are pretty good MP count it's high enough that you'll have no problem enlarging photos if you want so look at lens zoom (optical). For people wanting to jump into the DSLR market this is an investment and that investment isn't the camera body its the lens, the lens not the body will be replaced later in any upgrade, not the lens you've bought! The lens will cost you more than the body, get good glass if you're going to get cheep glass you may as well stick with a good point-n-shoot camera as it will get better photos than a DSLR with bad glass.
      Advice for taking digital photos: Same as Favorite tips & tricks for using the camera just because its digital doesn't mean you should forget the basics of photography and start relaying on post processing everything which I see so many doing.
      General photo or camera experiences: I'd consider myself a serious armature photographer shot 35mm for 20 years and now digital for over 12 years. No longer use 35mm at all have sold a few photos and been hired for a few photo sessions for Magazine and events but don't consider myself a Professional Photographer just an avid photo enthusiast. Computer platform is PC and favorite software Adobe Photoshop CS2 Thank You, "
[END QUOTE] Jeff is a printing industry professional from Gardena, CA

Adding on doesn't always equate to improvement

Kim writes:
      "I bought a Nikon 990 several years ago based on overall reputation. I like the way it folds up into a small rectangle for portability. I don't much care for the menu system which is overly complex because it isn't very intuitive and it lacks a hierarchy of items in terms of quickly accessing and setting "on-the-spot CRITICALS versus general set-up PREFERENCES".
      I use this camera to generate quick scrap art for my graphic designs processes and this camera produces very good photographs using through the windows sun lighting adjusted by a white opaque drape. I also use it for on-location and candid PR photographs.
      My next digital camera will have the ability to hook up to studio lighting set-ups and accept interchangeable lenses. You know, all this digital technology is cool and all, but may favorite camera is still my old Minolta SRT 101. My all-time favorite snow skis (all the parabolic, self-turning, wide profile new models notwithstanding) were my Rossignal Strato 102's. Favorite waterski? A O'Brien Mach 1 custom-tuned wood ski. All are 70's era equipment. You starting to see a pattern?
      High-tech products are real wowie-zowie, but ultimately, they don't neccesarily delivery better peak performance. To me, there is elegance and power in simplicity. "Adding on" doesn't always equate to improvement.
      Having said that, I am very pleased with my computer system and software: I use a custom PC based on a Pentium 4 3.2 GHz processor with 2 GB RAM running Windows XP. I use the Adove Creative Suite 2 software (Photoshop for image preparation and rasterized graphics, Illustrator for production mechanicals and vector graphics, PageMaker for some page composition projects and InDesign for others."
[END QUOTE] Kim is a design professional from Bellevue WA USA

Shooting RAW

Bill writes:
      "Digital camera files can be a lot of things. It involves a camera which can capture RAW files, as a start, yet once you have the RAW file, you have to know what to do with it. No, it's not rocket science! Most intriguing about the process is that, essentially, you go back in time to when you shot the photo and reset your camera's parameters. Adobe calls RAW files "digital negatives." Hence, DNG (digital negative) is the name they apply. I, however, quickly realized that doing the raw conversion (in Photoshop, for instance) is, in fact, a lot of just plain "fun"! You can view an image in the browser as almost solid black, and with the movement of a couple or 3 sliders, make it come alive to what might be one of the best shots you ever took.
      I use Photoshop CS with a Mac G4 and tons of RAM and a Nikon 5400 (with firmware upgrade). If you can shoot RAW, give it a try. Quite likely, you will be impressed with the result. An Adobe Raw Converter plug runs, apparently, in Photoshop 7. Download free at New and improved converter (3.X) comes with CS2. "
[END QUOTE] Bill is a design professional from Santa Barbara, California, USA

Digicam is the key...

James writes:
      "My digicam has become an indispensable tool. I use it to capture ideas I want to remember, scenes that might make for great stock shots, information I want to remember but can't write down at the moment, pictures of my wife and children and wherever we are, portraits and product shots, images of items too large (or too numerous) to scan, equipment I am disassembling that I want to be able to re-assemble correctly (like my central-air blower unit recently!). I even use it to transfer data files to/from the home office (and if I had an mp3 player that used compact flash cards, I'd keep them on it too!).
      I chose a Konica-Minolta A2 8MP camera with 7:1 zoom because I wanted near-digital SLR control and capabilities without having to go all-out for the DSLR and an assortment of lenses (too much stuff, too much weight!). It had to do double-duty for family, fun, and both my work and my wife's business (she needed wide angle capability, as a professional faux-finish painter she often needs to capture before/after images in tightly confined spaces). She loves its AUTO settings and presets, and I love learning what it can do. It has been an excellent camera, and captures good quality video clips as well. With this camera and a WinXP computer, I use the Adobe Creative Suite (I love Photoshop and InDesign especially). "
[END QUOTE] James is a design professional from Topeka, KS, USA

Overcome the flaws

Mark writes:
      "One thing I love about digital cameras is I no longer worry about wasting a shot. With film, I always planned for the best shot because I didn't want to waste film or pay to develop bad photos. One of the problems with digital is, most digital cameras have some kind of flaw. Whether its too much color in one channel or missing depth of field, every digital I have used has its own quirks. The good new is, once you know what they are, you can develop actions in Photoshop to make optimizing your photos much faster and more reliable. I have actions for brightness/contrast to compensate for flash photos and one for reducing the green in a photo for daylight shots. I don't need them everytime, but often enough that making the action was worthwhile. I'm using a PC. Favorite software includes Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects and Macromedia Flash and Dreamweaver."
[END QUOTE] Mark is a web design professional from Sacramento, CA USA

Now I can shoot freely

Joan writes:
      "Mac OSX platform I love iPhoto because I haven't had the time to spare to learn PhotoshopCS. Wish I owned it. I enjoy digital photography because it saves me money. I began using photography at the age of 7--couldn't afford to take many pictures most of my life because processing was so expensive. Had to always be sure that I took care not to mess-up. Now I can shoot freely and just erase those shots which aren't up to my quality standards. Currently shooting with a Panasonic digital and just beginning to move into movies."
[END QUOTE] Joan is a photographer from Glen Burnie, MD United States

Shooting with my Pentax Optio 555

Mabyn writes:
      "If I were forced to have only one program on my XP, it would be Photoshop. I love shooting with my Pentax Optio 555 and storing photos for later use. The entire Adobe family is incredible especially with their Adobe Online services that you can download extra things for your program(s). I also really enjoy their Illustrator program and think their acquisition of Dreamweaver is outstanding."
[END QUOTE] Mabyn is a computer user from Baton Rouge, LA USA

Opportunity is always right in front of me

Cynthia writes:
      "I bought an Olympus Camedia C-3000 Zoom 4 years ago and am never without it. As an artist, opportunity is always right in front of me, whether I see it or not. This camera has held up well for being thrown into my bag and jostled unmercifully. At the time, it was expensive, but now at mid-range, I can justify the abuse. I like the "heft" since I grew up with SLRs.
      To me, the best feature of digital is just that - being able to download immediately and use the image. I can over-shoot, bracket, and then trash what I don't want, re-use the media, and do it again. I prefer a camera that uses rechargeable AA batteries, sothat in a pinch, I can stop at a market and pick up some extras to bridge the gap as mine charge.
      One tip - read the instructions! Granted, it's not rocket science to point and shoot, but most mid-range cameras have some really neat features included, such as backlight and sepia or panoramic - these take a bit of o learning curve, but are worth the time. Also, the manual mode allows a wide range of image manipulation before it is tweaked on the computer. Of course, I can't leave it alone there, I use Adobe PhotoShop CS and Corel Painter 8 to transform an ordinary "picture" into an extraordinary photograph.
      Another tip - keep a tripod handy. Even minor movement can spoil the shot. Shoot at as high a resolution as you can afford to - this allows you to crop out the best parts. A single shot can become many associated images.
      Most important - back up your work to CD or DVD. This media is cheap - and fast! Unlike film, digital photography allows you to be extravagant. It is a whole different medium to work with. The potential has barely been tapped. I use both PCs and MACs - but primarily a PC now, operating on XP. I am looking forward to buying a newer, bigger, faster camera - but my Olympus will be in my bag, ready to use, always. "
[END QUOTE] Cynthia is a graphic Illustrator from Missoula, Montana, USA

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