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22 Reviews

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    22 Reviews
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      14.12.2009 15:50
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      This is a simply brilliant hobby that is one I recommend to all no matter your age, height or weight

      I am 25 years old and have never been good at art, drawing, painting, colouring in or any of those things but have always been very creative and so simply love picking up my camera and taking it out and about to see what I can capture. Photography used to be one of those hobbies that many considered to be an elitist passtime but with the ever improving camera market leading to a great amount of price reduction and better technology available to more people thanks to much better value for moeny it is now becomming a passtime that more and more people are taking up. I have personally always been into photography but not into spending hundreds of pounds to pick up a professional quality of camera so have learnt to shop around and check out functions and features before I pick up a new camera. I live in Scotland and am a massive fan of taking scenic photographs but with a small twist like taking a picture of a puddle that is perfectly still in order to get the reflection of a farm gate and the mountains so that you can't tell which way up the picture should be, taking a picture of a branch which is partly under water and also some parts over the water which make an amazing difference in colour and contrast and many more besides. The greatest thing about photography is that it does not matter what age you are, how creative you are or even how tall you are as you are always able to get some great shots that live in your memory as well as on the computers, the memory cards and more important than all of it in the albums that we all love to look through. A photograph is not just a picture but is the menu logo for your memories chapter to be accessed. Positives: - Easy and simple to take up - Amazing memories there to be made all the time - Cheaper than many other hobbies - No age, height, weight or any other restrictions - Produce stunning creativity despite not being artistic Negatives: - None

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        03.04.2009 16:30
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        It was a good investment that taught me a lot.

        I posted this review in Ciao café the other day and it seems to have gone down well, so I thought I would share it with you. I hope this is the right category (Thanks to Colin for getting it moved to the right category :) ) Introduction. Most of you who have read my reviews will have realised that they are mostly photographic equipment reviews, here is a review of the original camera that got me interested in photography in the first place and my experiences with it, it is an old obsolete model which is not included on any review sites, hence my posting it in here. When I was a young lad I wanted a camera that could take close-ups (macro) for a project I was doing at the time, as well as normal family and holiday snaps, but knowing very little about cameras, I went to the branch of Wilding photographic in Wigan to find out more. Once in there I explained all this to the man in the shop and he showed me a Zenith B camera, which looked very impressive and businesslike compared to my grandmothers little plastic Kodak instamatic, impressed with it I asked "how much?" £30 was the reply, I was rather shocked at that, £30 was a week and a half's wages at the time. I decided that despite the price I would get it anyhow, so I left the shop very pleased with my new camera, some film, a couple of Hoya close-up filters of different strengths and a 2x extender for telephoto work, with all the extras that brought the price up to nearly £40, 'shock horror', two weeks wages blown on a camera, - was it a good investment? - Read on to find out. What was available at the time? During the 1960's and early 70's most 35mm SLR cameras were prohibitively expensive, the Likes of Pentax, Canon and Nikon catered mostly for the professional market, Pentax did have some lower priced cameras aimed at the serious amateur but they were still expensive to most people, most affordable amateur SLR's came from behind the iron curtain, the well known Praktica company from Dresden, East Germany had several models aimed at the amateur market and with their Carl Zeiss lenses were very capable cameras for the time. But the Zenith cameras from the Soviet union were the best known, they were shipped from Russia by their thousands, and because of their relatively cheap price, they brought affordable SLR photography to the masses, most photographers at the time cut their teeth on one of these. The Zenith B The Zenith B was a large Russian made SLR of very basic specification, it was manual operation only, they were mechanical cameras (no batteries to run out here) the shutter was spring driven and the self-timer was clockwork, they were built like a tank and weighed a ton, and the controls were fiddly to say the least, they did not even have a light meter, The lens The Zenith B came with two lens options, one option was with the 50mm industar f/3.5, mine came with the much better Helios 58mm f/2 lens, the minimum aperture was a very modest f/16, the lenses used the universal Pentax 42mm screw thread mount, and there was no mechanical linkage to the camera to control the aperture, so that was done manually, changing lenses was a lengthy job as they had to be unscrewed to remove them, and another one screwed back on again. The shutter The shutter speed was controlled by a very small metal dial on a very strong spring, changing the shutter speed meant pulling up this dial and turning it to the desired setting, but because of the sharp edge on the dial and the strength of the spring it left an impression in your finger and thumb so you didn't want to do that very often if you could help it, the shutter had a very limited range of 1/30th to 1/500th of a second plus B, the shutter was cocked by the lever that advanced the film to the next frame, when the spring loaded shutter was fired it made a very loud clunk that could be heard quite some distance away, which made taking wildlife or candid pictures very difficult as the racket would alert your subjects of your presence. I tried taking pictures of some buskers playing to a crowd in Cornwall, using the 2x extender that I had bought so as not to be too close, but after the first shot the noise of the shutter alerted everyone to the camera, the buskers started playing to the camera and half the crowd were posing for the picture, completely ruining the natural and informal nature of the pictures. Changing the film. Loading the film was a lengthy process, I always bought the 36 exposure films to cut this down to a minimum, when loading the film first you had to open the back of the camera via a small slider which you needed to get your finger nail under to move it, then you had to lift the rewind knob, then you had to insert the film cartridge and push the rewind knob down again to lock the film cartridge in place, then slip the end of the film under a spring on the take-up spool, and try and engage the holes in the film edges onto the sprocket wheel, close the back and wind on the film a couple of times whilst checking the if the rewind knob is turning, if it doesn't turn (and it often didn't) then you had to open it up and do it all again, then you had to reset the frame counter manually after every film change. Unloading the film wasn't much better, you had to depress a button to disengage the shutter and film sprocket, then rewind the film using a knob which because of its shape and low profile was difficult to grip, and keep turning and turning until you felt the resistance of the film slacken, then open up the back of the camera, then lift up the rewind knob to release the film cartridge again so that you can remove it. "Phew!" I bet you wouldn't complain about having to change an SD card again after all that. Build quality Despite its rather primitive design and fiddly controls, it was a very well built camera, everything worked as it should, and it never broke down once, nor had any problems in all the years that I used it, and it got a lot of use over that time, this camera was built like a tank with it's all metal construction, it weighed in at a huge 1kg with its standard lens attached, it was definitely built to last a long time, and it came in a strong leather case to protect it from any damage when not in use. I have seen these being sold on Ebay for a lot more than I paid for mine, still in good working order after nearly forty years, which is a testament to their build quality and durability. Taking Pictures. When I got this camera and read the instruction book, it told you how to change the film, wind on the film, change the aperture, change the shutter speed and press the shutter, and that was it. As this camera does not have a light meter or any auto functions whatsoever, everything has to be done manually including working out the exposure. When I first started I followed the guide inside the film, for 100ASA (ISO) film, that was a shutter speed of 1/125 then f/16 for bright and sunny, f/11 for bright and cloudy or hazy sun, and f/8 for dull and overcast, so I set it to one of these depending on what the weather was like, but I used to get some pictures that did not come out, the problem was that if it was bright and sunny I would set the appropriate setting for that weather and leave it set on that, whether I was out in the sun, or in the shade, but after a couple of wasted films, I soon learned to read the light and set the camera accordingly, for example if it was bright and sunny but I was in the shade of a building I would treat that as a dull day and set the camera for that, problem solved, after a while I learned how to expose for any lighting conditions accurately and that was without using a light meter at all. Once I had learned how to do that, the camera was quite easy to use even with its fiddly controls, which you get used to after a while anyway, after a while I bought a second hand Sigma 28mm wide angle lens for it, this camera was much more suited to wide-angle photography than it was telephoto. As for the macro shots, I managed to get some good ones with this camera despite its limitations. I am still taking them, but now with a modern camera and a proper macro lens. Likes. It was my first camera. Build quality and durability. You gain a lot of experience using a camera like this one. Universal 42mm screw fit lenses were cheaper. Manual control. No batteries to run out Ideal for wide-angle photography. Dislikes. Fiddly controls. Changing film took ages. Slow to set up and use. Noisy shutter It is heavy. Longer learning curve meant wasted film and missed shots at first And finally Was the two weeks wages spent on this camera a good investment? - Yes it was. Because of the cameras limited capabilities, I had to learn all the basics of photography before I could even start to get any decent pictures from this camera, I learned how to read the available light and get an accurate exposure whatever the conditions, I learned what shutter speeds and apertures did and what all the numbers meant, these skills have stood me in good stead ever since, even the most modern camera light meter cannot get the exposure right all of the time, so being able to put the camera into manual mode and use your own experience to get it right when the camera wouldn't is a useful skill to have, even in these days of automatic this, that and everything else. On top of all that, I got years of service from it, plus I got some great pictures with it as well. But eventually the time came to upgrade to a new camera, so I bought a brand new to the market at the time, Canon AE 1 Program with a motor-drive and a Tamron 80 - 200mm zoom lens, but that was not the end of the Zenith, I carried on using that alongside my Canon for the wide-angle shots, a role that it was suited to very well. In the end I gave it to one of my relatives who wanted a camera to take family snaps of his children as they were growing up. Thanks for reading. - Mark.

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          08.08.2002 15:31
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          Owners of cameras with interchangeable lenses - mostly but not only 35mm SLR cameras - can build up a good set of optics without having to spend a fortune. The second-hand market has a lot to offer, if you know how to go about selecting a good bargain. Used lenses are usually much less expensive than new lenses. You can save a lot of money if you are careful - but you can also end up with garbage. True, most lenses can be serviced but why put yourself through the hassle? Most camera owners are aware that the quality of the image depends mostly on the lens. This applies not only to its specifications and quality of manufacture but also to its condition, which is dependent on how well it is cared for. Problem is, with a used lens we don't usually know how badly it has been treated or to what unfriendly environments it has been exposed. All we can do, therefore, is to look for tell-tale signs of wear or damage, before deciding whether or not to buy it. The best and safest method is to test the lens on your own camera. Does it fit your camera and lock into place properly? Beware of incompatible lenses, because many camera manufacturers have changed their lens mount designs at some point in their history. Do you get the proper displays in the viewfinder? Does the indicated focus on the lens agree with the physical distance from camera to subject? If you can run a test film through your camera using the lens, so much the better, although this is more appropriate if buying something expensive - it seems like overkill for a cheap 50mm f/1.8 standard lens. Such a test will show up defects that cannot be detected by physical examination of the lens alone. Check that the focusing, aperture selector and zoom control all work smoothly, without being too stiff or too loose. Look through the lens to see that the diaphragm opens and closes properly as you change the aperture setting and, in the case of an SLR, that it clo ses down to the taking aperture when you activate the shutter. If the diaphragm sticks, this is probably due to defective lubrication of the iris blades that will require the attention of a service technician. Check that all contacts, levers or cams that serve as the interface between lens and camera are undamaged and that the proper linkage is achieved in all your camera's operating modes. Dents or scratches on the filter ring or lens barrel may not be serious; on the other hand, they could be signs of rough usage or accidents, which might have caused serious internal problems. If it’s just superficial damage, it helps to bring down the price of the lens but may make no difference at all to its performance. Shining a flashlight through the lens and peering into it can show up all sorts of problems with the glass. A small amount of dust inside the lens is not usually a serious problem. Lenses "breathe" when focus or zoom controls are altered and a small amount of dust is unavoidable. Look for "cleaning marks", finger-prints, scratches and abrasions to the external glass surfaces. Modern lenses are coated, to reduce reflection and minimize flare; the coating can be damaged by negligent handling or reckless cleaning, such as with a harsh cloth or (heaven forbid) with cleaning fluids or cloths designed for eyeglasses. Lenses with marks or scratches on the rear element should be avoided, as these will almost certainly degrade the image quality; minor damage to the front element, however, is not usually so bad. It's worth finding out, if you can, whether the previous owner was in the habit of protecting the front element with a lens cap, hood or filter. The biggest and most insidious enemy of lenses is fungus. It can usually be avoided, if lenses are always kept in a clean and dry place, but you can't be sure how a used lens has been stored. Be suspicious if the lens has been kept in a leather pouch of any sort or attached to a camera in an "ever-ready" leather case. Leather pouches and cases look very smart but can promote the growth of fungus. Leather is actually a very bad idea for the storage of cameras and lenses. If you look through a lens with a fungus problem, you can usually make out a whitish, web-like growth, spreading across the surface of one of the inner elements. Fungus destroys the anti-flare coating and can even etch the surface of the glass itself. It cannot usually be cleaned satisfactorily, so any lens with visible signs of fungus growth should be avoided. Check, also, for any signs that the lens may have been tampered with. If there is any reason to suppose that it has been dismantled by an amateur, possibly in an attempt to clean the inner elements, then it's best avoided. The risks of missing parts, such as tiny ball bearings, or of misalignment during re-assembly, are high. A professional repair technician does not leave tell-tale signs that a lens has been dismantled but an amateur often does. Any burring or scratches on the screw-heads holding the lens together are warning signs that all may not be well. Where to buy? Well, an on-line auction site is obviously one source but it has the disadvantage that you don't get the chance to examine and test the lens before you bid. You rely entirely on the pictures that the vendor puts on the screen and the honesty and accuracy of the accompanying description. Personally, it's not for me, but good luck to those who use it. Buying privately is safer, provided that you get the chance to examine and test before you commit. Ask why the lens is for sale. Buying from a reputable dealer will cost more but it's the safest way to go. Most dealers have the sense to realize that you could bring them future business and they also have their reputations to protect, so they have an interest in looking after you. Some also offer a warranty. Me, I'm conservative and prefer to pay a premium for safety's sake but your mileage may vary, as they say. Finally, don't feel guilty about buying a used lens. Strange as it may seem, some people develop a strong sense of loyalty towards their chosen camera manufacturer and feel that they should do something to support the company. However, buying a used lens, in many cases, enables the person who sold it to buy a new replacement, so the manufacturer does, in fact, benefit indirectly. It's all part of the buying chain. I'll admit that I, for one, could not have afforded to own the set of lenses I need if I bought only new ones.

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            25.07.2002 07:29
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            I have spent days racking my brains trying to think of a favourite item to write about so that I can fulfill Jill Murphy's request. I've had all sorts of ideas but not one single item really struck me as being something really special that I would consider to be a favourite thing. However, yesterday I was tidying out my wardrobe and lying underneath a pile of old shoes was a box of old photographs - packets and packets of photographs of people and places that I have very happy memories of. I opened the lid and slowly began ploughing my way through them, whilst looking at these photos I was struck by how many fond memories this old box of photographs holds for me, memories that can never be replaced. I won't bore you by itemising every event that I have taken photographs of but will just furnish you with a brief outline of why these photographs are so special to me. There are many photographs of my childhood but unfortunately whilst I remember certain things about the circumstances I was too young to recall much about them. Probably the first packet of memorable photographs I have were taken by me when I went on a French exchange trip with my secondary school when I was 14. We sailed from Portsmouth to Cherbourg and stayed in a small village near Cherbourg called La Glacerie, (I think). My penfriend and host was called Corrine, she was very nice and came from a lovely family - she had two sisters Severine and Martine - they were both younger than us but we all got on famously. During the day our penfriends would go to school and we would gather outside their school to pick up our coaches that were to take us to our various day trips. One of those day trips was to Le Mount St Michael, whilst going through these photos I came across some of my best friend Debbie and I, immediately I looked at the photographs I was transported back 20 years and the memories of that great day out came flooding back. We were allowed to walk about by ourselves and Debbie and I decided we would go on a man hunt. We met two dishy French men and they invited us to go for a drink with them, whehay we're in here we thought and trotted off behind them giggling amongst ourselves along the way. In France they appeared to be quite lenient in the bars and when we asked for deux bierre blonde we were presented with two large glasses of lager. An hour or so later we had to meet back up with the rest of our party so we made our excuses and hurried off. When we had all met up we were taken to a museum, Debbie was so drunk that she fell over whilst trying to hug this man in a red and blue suit who she thought was Spiderman - she was laughing so much because of it that she wet herself. I sometimes see Debbie now and we always reminisce about the French Exchange and in particular that day in France. Whilst we were there we also managed to get lost at the underground station in Paris and caused quite a palaver as the rest of the party went looking for us - we'd only stopped to buy some bubblegum but when we'd finished everybody had disappeared - we eventually found our teacher but missed the train and were highly unpopular with the teachers for the rest of the trip - everytime I look at my photographs of this French Exchange trip they make me smile. Next I came across a Polaroid photograph which was taken by the midwife when my son was born. He was born prematurely and had breathing difficulties and because of this he had to be taken to the intensive care unit. I was allowed to hold him for a few minutes when he was first born but as I later suffered a hemorrhage I was told I had to stay in bed and could not go and visit him. I was obviously very upset that I couldn't visit my son so the midwife took a Polaroid photograph of him in his incubator, this photograph was all I had for 24 hours and it meant and still does mean an awful lot to me. Fortunately my son was able to leave the special b aby care unit after a week and his health has not been affected as a result of these early problems. I then came across a small photo album of photographs which were taken by my husbands friend Kerry and his partner. When we got married we also had our son, who was then one, christened. Kerry and his partner followed us about and took loads of photos of us all, many of which weren't captured by the official photographer, they then took them into Boots to be developed within 1 hour and presented them to us in an album just before we left for our honeymoon so that we could take them away with us. Those photographs mean such a lot to us both and it was a fantastic wedding present. In September 1996 my Mother and Father in law celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary. We arranged a surprise party for them at our house and invited lots of their friends along, they thought that they were coming for tea with us and were so surprised to see all their friends and family, their faces were a picture. The photographs we took of this special day are very important to us as my Father in law passed away in December 1996. Sadly on 2nd January 2002 my Mother in law passed away too, she had only learnt that she had bowel cancer a few weeks earlier, this came as a big shock to all of us and these photographs are the last photographs we have of them both together and as such they hold a very special place in our hearts. Obviously I have many more photographs and many other happy memories from them but I won't bore you with them all. This opinion is dedicated to Mavis and Douglas Webb my late in laws and also to Jill Murphy who has courageously beaten cancer and is a tribute to us all. "Jill Murphy asked me to write about one of my favourite things to help her celebrate her fourth anniversary of cancer-free living and to remind ourselves of all the nice things in the world. It takes more muscles to make a frown than a smile you know. If you'd like to join in, whether you've only just joined dooyoo, or you've been here ages, you're more than welcome. Just write about one of YOUR favourite things, make your title "A Favourite Thing: [your choice]" and include this paragraph at the foot of your opinion. And post before Friday, 9th August." On this occasion please ignore ratings below as they have no relevance. Thank you for reading. Julie

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              12.11.2001 00:38
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              Thanks to the ever-inventful Monty Python team for the title. OK, it's not as good as Conor and Kieran (the youngest members of the Murphy company) think up, but I like it. This opinion is all about photography. I love photography. Really enjoy it. It's an artform that lives forever. Unlike most art it can take place on two levels. You have all those party 'snaps' recording a moment of drunken laughter and glee. Hee hee. Hic. And then you can have 'real' photography. Where you go out with the intention of capturing something good, and come back with a photograph or two. I much prefer the second, mainly due to not being a loud, extrovertive grinning (and often drunken) idiot. I am not great. I'm pretty poor at photography, but if you enjoy it, it's worth doing. I use a 35mm. Thanks to having a family of photographic enthusiasts, I have access to loads of cameras. My grandad, when he passed away, left to the rest of the family a collection of about 11 or 12 cameras. All sorts. Mostly, I have been using them to take shots. What type of shots? I have been trying my hand at both colour 'snaps', which are quite interesting. But I find it most interesting doing black and white. The contrast is more interesting than colour can ever be. You can express a lot more without colour sometimes. For example, today, I went down to the coast and was taking beach pictures. That was good fun. Dogs, people are alright, but the most interesting things have to be windbreaks, stone patterns, pools of water, water flowing, blocks of abandoned wood and the posts to tie boats to. Also, I'd like to try some London photography sometime. Perhaps during the Christmas break, I'll pop up to London and take some photographs. But unlike most of the 'Kodak-brigade' who take their party/holiday snaps, I try and develop my own. In black and white, it's relatively easy as the temperatures and times are lower than when using colour. I haven't got access to the sort of equipment and processing chemicals you need for colour anyway. I am not going to go in to a long drawn article about how to process a film, as it's rather long and boring. But, read some books and talk to local camera enthusiasts to get some advice. Perhaps they'd show you, although frankly, the word dark-room usually means that you can't -SEE- anything...! The other aspect of photography that I'd really like to try out is digital photography. I have, in the course of my studies and work, used a digital camera. They're a pain in the ass! Menus, memory cards, not pressing the button hard enough... and then we get on to PC's!! But that's just due to not knowing much about the camera. If I had my own camera (like a Sony Cybershot... I wish), then I'd learn everything about it, and could go out, shoot and bring it back to my Mac and play about with it on Photoshop. That's a logical extension of the photographic art. (Read Todd L's article on it...) You can take things out that you don't want, put things in again, and generally play about with your photographs. I haven't even mentioned Kai's PowerGoo yet... The great thing about photography would have to be it's uniqueness. It may sound cheesy, and crap, but every moment is unique. (No, this isn't a teen B-movie). But, when you take a photograph, you have taken a moment in time, recorded it on to film, and will (eventually) have a print of it. Nobody else will have that print. That is, unless they were standing right next to you and took the shot... And, as my philosophy goes: a cliche a day keeps the doctor away.... a picture speaks a thousand words. Well, even bad ones can. So, go out, get a cheap camera (one of those disposables even...), go somewhere interesting (try the countryside, or the middle of a big city like London) and get snappi ng. It's interesting what comes out at the end. GLOSSARY So you can keep up with the camera jargon, I'll be adding new words to this list every few days. Apeture - on your lens, how wide the hole that lets the light is. A wider apeture will let in more light, and a smaller apeture, less light. ASA / ISO - The 'speed' of the film. If your just starting out, and are going to take daytime shots go for ISO's around 100 / 200, for more general purpose go for 400, and if your shooting in dark areas, use 800, 1600 or 3200. For those getting a bit more advanced, use push/pull services from your lab. -- thanks everybody for reading. [] bigbtommy | 2001

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                24.08.2001 21:44
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                Although the articles in this section tend to focus on the ins and outs of taking photographs which look great and bring back memories,I'd like to take a look at the hobby of photography from the subject's point of view. Over the past couple of weeks I have noticed something quite disturbing.......People with cameras think they have the right to take pictures of absolutely anything without permission.Not just buildings,landscape and scenery but people. You might wonder what I'm going on about here,but I have discovered that people(I believe tourists in particular)think they can take photos of my friends and I as we relax in our local high street.Not one asks for permission,they simply take some pictures and leave. We find this quite upsetting and I would like to remind wannabe photographers that people are within their right to demand a film containing photographs of themselves.Its annoying,arrogant and especially cheeky when the photographers then deny taking the pictures at all!The thing is..if you ask for pictures,we would probably be more than happy to comply,but when you take them without permission we feel violated!So......if you're not happy to ask permission,then stick to inanimate objects thank you!

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                  02.08.2001 05:54
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                  I've been mad about photography for years now. My first camera was a little Hanimex that came in a gift box with a snazzy plastic case and a free 110 film. Wow, high excitement! Then at the age of 21 I was given my Canon EOS, a 'proper' camera. And so my love of photography grew. I'm not going to right an op full of suggestions that will make you a brilliant photographer, if you're after that you had best go read one of the other ops in this category. No, I'm going to tell you about some of the things you can have a go at with the photo's you take, and you don't have to be a brilliant photographer to have fun. Lord knows I'm not. *Create a special scrap book* My first idea is for those planning a wedding, or any other large celebration. Before my wedding, I wanted to collect all my ideas together regarding venues, wedding dresses, churches, flowers and so forth. Apart from cutting pictures out of bridal magazines, and collecting swatches of dress fabrics, I also collected photo's together of the hen night(well those that could be used!), and preparations on the morning of the wedding. Of course not all the photo's were taken by me, one see's me eating a boiled egg and soldiers with huge curlers in on the morning itself! As bits and pieces were collected, they were added to a large photo album from 'Smiths'. I found using a self adhesive one with black pages made it easy to display all my cuttings, swatches, and wedding preparation photo's together, and provided me with a keep sake of the wedding which was a little different, after all, the day goes so quickly that it's easy to take all that preparation for granted. Last year we bought our first digital camera for just under £600. It was a big purchase for us, but as we knew it would get plenty of use(as we were about to have our second child), we considered it well worth the money. The camera has been an absolute joy to use, and with just a smattering of imagination, the possibilities for fun projects are endless. *Publish your photo's on the web* I'm no computer wiz, we've had our first computer less than a year, but still it's easy to design your own website and get it published, and of course it's the perfect opportunity to show off your best photographs. If you have a digital camera, this will be really easy. Adobe Photo Delux software came with our Fuji camera, and it provides a facility to down size the 'jpg' of your photo's, and export them to the web. Through reading The Knights helpful comments on the 'Opinionated Community', I found out about 'Tripod', a site you can enter through 'Lycos', which gives you free web space and makes it easy to design your own site, upload your pictures, and then publish it on your behalf. Through Tripod I have been able to publish a site containing photo's of flowers I have taken this year(address on my profile page). O.K, it's not everyones cup of tea, but it's my effort, and there's got to be someone out there who will appreciate it! Babiesonline.com, are another site that offer you free space. This is my favourite site. I can upload photo's of my kids and write a little about what they've been getting up to, and then share it with friends and family around the world. You always have the option to keep your surname private, and only have the pass word to your site known by those who you wish to see it. I know some people feel unhappy about putting pictures of their children on the internet, but I feel as long as they are suitable photographs, and no personal information is given out, such as your address ect, then it's fine. *Combine a photo album with a scrap book* Again I tend to use a large self adhesive album for this. It enables me to add items that I have cut out to the p ages, as well as tabs of brightly coloured paper with narative on. For instance, after my sons second birthday party, I cut out his favourite childrens characters from wrapping paper and birthday cards, and arranged them around the photo's I had taken. Sticking them in a large album gives a really great collage effect across the spread of the double page, and tells the story of the day. Another day we went to Lego land. The photographs I took that day were surrounded by brightly coloured titles, names and characters, all cut out of the Lego land brochure. The effect was fun and also meant parts of the brochure were kept safe for years to come. I hope my kids enjoy seeing these albums when their older. I know I enjoyed coming across an old scrap book of mine from childhood, and it's kind of a similar thing. *Make your own story books* This is absolutely fab, and something I've only just started doing, it's great if you have small kids. For this you need to get a small 4"x6" album or a greater size. The kind you can just drop photo's into is great because then you can always use it again later for a new story. Take some photo's of your kids doing some basic things, playing at the park, going to the shops, perhaps getting on the bus, or going to a museam, and print them just onto plain paper as photographic paper can use more ink and gets expensive. Next lay all the photo's out before you and start to think of a story. This isn't too hard to do, and if you write for Dooyoo or just read here, you'll have no problems. I've just finished a story book for my 2 year old entitled 'Fergus's Special Garden', and it tells the tale of how the garden was dull and lacking in colour and wildlife, until he started to water the plants and help his mummy with the gardening. The first photo in the book is really dull. All I did was turn down the colour until it was nor quite black a nd white. I manged to get a photo of a frog, bumble bee, and butterfly, and of course having digital facilities mean't I was able to enhance the colours and zoom in to fill the frame with an entire frog or bee. Having watered the plants and watched the sun shine, Fergus was able to see how the garden became full of lovely flowers. One by one he got to meet all the new creatures attracted into the garden. Of course they were all friendly and had names such as Beverly the Bumble Bee and Colin the Cabbage White Butterfly. Needless to say that spending just over 2 hours to create the book, and write the text, really payed off. Fergus loves the book, especially as he is the star! It's educational, fun, and there is no other like it in the whole world! I'm still just beginning to discover the possibilites of using photography to do more than just capture memories. So much these days can be solely achived with computers, indeed being able to share your photo's across the globe is amazing, but I think that combining photography with hand made ideas still has a great deal to offer in terms of enjoyment for all the family, as well as recording your family's history as it happens in a highly individual way.

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                    21.07.2001 05:30
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                    This is my attempt to try and diagnose exactly what the problem is: This is the photography Doctor in the house, hoping to heal your wounded family snaps and cure your blank negatives...and on the way, I hope this opinion is a helpful guide on how to improve your photography. *Dear Doctor, why do I only ever seem to get half of the picture that I take? The other half seems to be a blurry black mess. In the dark, Surrey. Dear In, it seems you have a shutter problem: Now let's analyse the situation. Are you using any sort of flash unit when you use the camera? If so, the answer is a simple one: Your shutter is not synchronised with your flash (or maybe you have failed to set the RIGHT shutter speed for your camera if you are in manual mode). To solve this problem, find out the right shutter speed for the flash unit, so that the shutter opens fully to expose the ENTIRE frame during that brief flash. Ahh, you're not using a flash? Then I suggest you take your camera to the repairman, as your shutter probably needs to be readjusted. After a certain amount of usage, the shutters can simply spring out of place. For a small fee, (probably the cheapest of repairs) Mr Repairman with realign your shutters for you, but you should really be maintaining the welfare of your camera by taking it for a checkup at least once every two years. *Oi! Peel. My negatives and pictures look like they've been bleached. Some are completely see through at the bottom, and others are completely see through every other frame/picture. Any ideas? Frustrated, Yorkshire. Hmmn, frustrated, first we have to decide whether or not this is a development of the negative problem or simply a light leaking camera. The first is less likely to happen if you are having these films developed professionally (i.e. not yourself), as damage like this usually occurs in a home darkroom, when you haven't loaded the film correctly onto the developing reel, or you haven't agitated the film enough during processing. The film then sticks together and the chemistry fails to reach (and develop) the emulsion. If this is not the case, then you will need to check the back of your camera's body: When the back is slightly warped (this could easily happen if you have dropped the camera), then light can seep in and expose the film. Real tell tell signs of this are when a scalloped bleached effect can be found either on the top or the bottom, running for the whole of the length of your negative. A see through negative on every other frame? Ahh, this is a virus that can be quickly counteracted: DON'T open the back of your camera when you have film in it. And if it wasn't you, then scold your child, grandmother or partner. Only do this in dire emergencies, i.e. if you believe that the winding mechanism isn't working properly and you're film is not winding on (hence, you will get no photos whatsoever, and end up paying for the development of a blank film). *Dr Rebekah, my photos are all blurry. Why? Out of focus, Devon. Dear Out, you don't give me much to go on, do you? Please don't take this personally, but have you had your eyesight tested recently? Do you wear glasses or contacts will taking photos? An easy remedy for this is to find out your eyesight prescription and then pop down to your local camera shop. They should have (or be able to order for you) a corrective lens that can be placed in the view finder, making it that much easier for you to focus on your subject matter. No eyesight problems? Maybe you should try thoroughly cleaning your lens (and maybe filters, as well). This shouldn't be done too often, and should definitely be done with great care, as your lens (and filters) are easily scratched and permanently damaged. Smears, greasy fingerprints and dust can accumulate quickly on your lens (always keep a lens cap on when the ca mera is not in use). Blow the dust of before cleaning (either with your own wind, an air aerosol or one of those little squidgy grey puffer things (try to avoid the ones with the brushes on the end). Use a clean and SOFT cloth, that is if you haven't got proper lens cloths/wipes, and be careful (a rough cloth will leave tiny scratches that will only make the situation worse). Lens cloths, wipes and puffers can all be bought at a high street camera shop...and remember to wipe the rear of the lens as well. Still no joy? Oh dear. Chances are you have a slightly more serious condition: Take off your lens and hold it up to the light. Light not strong enough? Then shine a torch through it. What do you see? If you see any grime, moisture or a general irky build up, then I'm afraid it's off to the repairman again. In hot, damp, dirty climates, outside ick can find its way into your lens...nothing to do except have it cleaned (not always cheap). IF you find strange fungal growths lurking within your lens, then it's terribly bad news: Your lens will never be the same again; best to see it off to Leica heaven and invest in a new one :o( And Out, sometimes people like this blurry types of pictures. People spend money on good soft focus filters; have you ever thought about becoming a wedding photographer? *To the Beckstar: The images on my pictures seem to be overlapping. I have half a photo of my poodle's legs and the head of my Nanny Doris. Help. Disjointed, Ealing. The winding mechanisms/ film advancing mechanism sounds like it's up the spout. Check when you load the camera with the film that the 'teeth' are catching the film - sometimes they let the film 'slip', and sometimes this 'slipping' occurs simply because you haven't loaded the film properly. If this is a manual film advancing camera (i.e. one you have to wind on yourself), then check that you are winding as far as you can. If th is procedure is automatic, then back down to the repairman, I'm afraid. There is a small chance that you might inadvertently be doing double/triple etc. exposures (when the camera holds the film in the same frame for several exposures). Check to see if you have this facility on your camera; then, either turn it off, or try and be a little more artistic with it. * Doctor, I'm a serious type of guy, with a serious camera. On my recent return from South America, I found that my films, when developed, were either damaged with fungal growth or appeared to have extremely washed out colours. How can I avoid this in the future? Fun-guy-ly yours, Tooting. A common problem that occurs when using your camera in hot and damp climates: The heat and humidity can often penetrate the emulsion of photographic film, separating the layers - hence the washed out appearance. Fungus spores can also be attracted to this damp environment, spreading their filaments quickly over the surface of your negatives (if you are using black and white film, there may still be a chance for you to 'clean' the negative). To avoid these disastrous outcomes, you will have to try your damnedest to keep the film as cool and as dry as humanly possible. Keep your films in the fridge previous to use, but remember to take them out of the fridge a good while before you want to use them, allowing them to warm up to the surrounding climate (still in their protective casing) - otherwise droplets could be condensed from the humid air by the cold film/emulsion (causing spots on the negative). Don't leave the film in the camera for more than two days; load your film during the daytime (nighttime tends to be more humid); don't remove the film from the camera and put it straight back into its protective packaging UNLESS you are in a dry place; DO use silica gel (stock up on the small sachets before you go; and if you don't have silica gel to hand, then keep your films with newly ironed shirts or perhaps some rice (to absorb the moisture). *Dearest Doctor Darling, I keep getting strange flaring lights on my landscape pictures: I swear there were no U.F.O.s there at the time, and I'm not shooting directly into the sun or nuffink, honest, guv. Startled, Berkshire. Yes, common problem, and one that most people put down to the silly photographer who shoots straight into a light source: This is often not the case, but because the subject matter has reflective surfaces (water, sand, white/metal subjects, snow etc.), the main light source is reflected into your lens - producing flare spots. This can also happen when the light source is COMPLETELY out of your field of view, as rays can be bent into the camera by the front surface of the lens: The wider the aperture, the worse this effect can become. If you think that flare spots are a possibility in your composition, then move, and try again - putting the object between the camera and the light source is your best bet. Try using a lens hood, and make the aperture as small as possible to avoid this type of problem. *Boo hoo hoo, I can't get rid of the dreaded RED EYE. Please help me. Tearily, Glasgow. Ahh ha. I wondered when this one would pop up: Red eye is when the flash is reflected in the blood-rich retina inside the eye. The simplest way to avoid this is to ask the subject to look away from the camera and the lens...either that or invest in a red eye pen from Jessops (only joking). The answer really lies in the use of the flash and where it's aimed, how close it is to the lens etc., but if you are using a compact camera, then you have no other choice than requesting the subject finds something else to look at. *Hey Doc, what the bahoogers is Reciprocity Failure? Confused by long words, Paris. The law of reciprocity dictates that a long exposure in low light should give the same result as a short exposure in bright light: Film emulsions obey this law...until a point. The law breaks down at both ends of the scale - incredibly long exposures (five seconds +) in low light, and incredibly fast exposures (1/1000 of a second +) in strong light. Failure occurs and slows the speed of the film, giving you underexposed negatives - and with colour film, a shift in the expected/normal hues. Some films are more prone to this than others (check out the blurb that comes with your film and the pretty little chart), and this can be used to your advantage if you wish to artistically twiddle about with colour film. Ok, ok, that's enough of that. I hope this helped you to understand the problems you may have had in the past, and if it didn't, then I'm sorry :o( I would suggest that if you do have any of these problems occurring repeatedly with your film and camera, then have a contact print made of your negatives and show them to a more knowledgeable photographic Doctor than I. Bonne Chance.

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                      07.06.2001 16:09
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                      I am a very keen photographer and until this incident I always used Boots in-store processing for my photos, I used the 1 hour service thinking that nothing could go wrong in that time and the photos could never get 'lost in the post' as they never leave the store... How wrong I was!!! On new years eve 1999/2000 I went to a place where I could overlook my town and the neighbouring ones and snapped photographs of all the many fireworks exploding overhead - it looked spectacular and was something I'll never forget - I took my film to Boots to develop in 1 hour as always, came back an hour later and was dismayed to find no firework pictures... I'd been given someone elses photos!!! I went straight back to the desk and explained to Boots staff - they half-heartedly looked at the other waiting envelopes, then took my number to call me if/when my photos turned up.... I never received a call!!! I went back to Boots every weekend for around the next 6 weeks and was eventually offered £15 in gift vouchers for my loss. I also wrote to Boots head office explaining my situation where I got a sarcastic response stating that photos, whatever they may be of, have little value in their eyes and I was offered a cheque for onl £30 for my loss! My photos were unique and can never be re-created - they never did turn up and never will - I hope whoever has them appreciates them but all I'm left with is the pictures in my mind!

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                        25.05.2001 22:07
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                        My best tip for those who want to improve their photography is to go on a photo shoot with a fellow photographer, shooting the same subjects using the same camera and lenses on the same roll of film, explaining what you did differently as you go along. This can help to re-familiarise those who have been away from the camera for a while, but equally can help people to see what they wouldn't have otherwise. Another pair of eyes is always good. This is particularly useful for experienced photographers, where there are few courses available to teach them anything new. This works best for static objects - landscapes etc so that shutter speed and aperture can be discussed. At worst, you'll end up with a set of nice pictures! You also have an instant model should you need it. More experienced photographers can try night photography.

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                          09.04.2001 23:32
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                          I have always liked the professional approach of Jessops, both as photographic dealers and as photo-processors. But having just used taken delivery of a CD containing my latest set of photographs they have gone up even more in my estimation. What did I get exactly? Well, I took in two rolls of APS film, 25 exposures on each, and I handed over £11.99 per film and got back the usual negatives, prints and index prints, but also a CD containing both sets of photographs, each picture in five different sizes, large, medium, small, thumbnail and tiny - 250 graphics files in all. I was wary of trying this because a friend of mine had recently had a Kodak photo CD and was very disappointed that the photographs were in Kodak's proprietary graphic file format, requiring the download of special drivers from the Microsoft website before he could use them in MS software, and even then, he still couldn't get them into Powerpoint properly. The great benefit of the Jessops CD is that all the files are the JPG format, ensuring that the vast majority of programs can access and work with the files. But having the files in five different sizes, greatly reduces the need for changing them anyway. I've never been too pleased with the APS format, because the smaller prints always seem such a waste when you could use the panoramic setting, whereas the panoramic setting never really seemed suitable for group photographs or smaller views. But with these jpg files you get the best of all worlds, as whatever you want you've got it already among the five sizes on the CD. The CD itself comes with a variety of software on it, not least being a really useful Print Shop Photo Organiser which enables you to organise the photos into albums, add comments, dates, locations etc, and then file them in any way you wish. I was delighted to see that it will also save the photos and commentaries to a webpage with a variety of backgrounds and styl es, and even publishes to a website using ftp. This is a real bonus, as it allows you to share your photos on the web, without having to bother with webpage design or HTML codes. You could easily publish to one of the many free website hosters using this software and wouldn't need to fathom the mysteries of html or ftp. The program even allows you to specify one of four definitions for the photos, and I personally found the low definition perfectly adequate for viewing with a typical computer monitor. The service took five days to deliver my results, exactly as promised, and I got a free film for each reel I handed in. Incidentally, you can upgrade the free Jessops film to a Kodak, or whatever other brand you require for a small fee - you just pay the retail difference between Jessops and your favoured brand. Its so good not to have to scan all the photos in myself, I wish I'd discovered the service a couple of years ago. Highly recommended service in my view. Incidentally, if you want to look at my photos of Madrid and Toledo you'll be able to see them www.themos.org/madrid (there's Dorset one at the front which got there by mistake)

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                            12.03.2001 21:01
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                            I don't claim to be an expert on all the ins and outs of photography, but here are some things that have worked for me in the past which I have learned along the way: Before you go out to take pictures, decide on your subject matter. There is no point going out on a mission to take photos, ending up in a dark cloisters of a church with 200 speed film and no flash. Once you've decided what it is that you'll be taking photos of, then you can choose your film. Choose whether you want black and white or colour...if you're just starting out, then I would recommend using colour film. Kodak is always a good bet, or Fujicolour is also very good quality. If you're going to be taking photos outdoors on a bright day, then you want to choose a film with a lower speed - 200, 100, 400 possibly. The lower the speed, the more light there needs to be. If you're taking photos indoors and can use a flash, then 400 will usually suffice. If however you're taking photos of a live gig or something similar where people are moving in relatively poor lighting you want to get 800 or even 1600 speed (1200 if you can find it). Taking gig photos is a lot harder than one might initially think. If you're standing behind people and are taking a photo over peoples heads, then it is not advisable to use the flash as you'll just get a picture of a lot of peoples heads lit up and nothing of the actual subject matter. If you're up close then flash is fine, though you'll lose a lot of the colour of the lighting. If you're not allowed a flash then you should ideally be using 1600 speed film. Make sure you time the photo when there's the most light or at least when there's less movement by the band. You're always going to get a lot of dud photos, so the key is to keep snapping away, and some of them will turn out well. Post any q uestions as comments and I'll try to answer them... Ken *** I forgot to also mention that it's very important that if you're going to be taking photos where you may need to alter the exposure length, then you will need to get a half-decent camera. You can buy good quality second hand cameras in most traditional camera stores, or you can buy a reasonably good new Canon or Pentax for £120ish. The camera makes all the difference. Ideally it would have auto-detect film speed, or even better that AND manual selection. You should be able to set it to full manual focus, but autofocus is also very handy. A built in flash is good, but make sure you can turn it off, or you'll often end up with irate bouncers in gigs and so on. Look to spend up to £150 for a nice camera, and you'll be paid back with the results you get.

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                              25.02.2001 23:33
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                              Tips for taking great photographs Firstly this is not going to be an opinion that focuses on the technical aspects of photography, rather this is designed to cover some of the less often mentioned aspects of photography. Most articles will go on about focusing, lenses, shutter speeds and all manner of things that usually require spending money on expensive equipment, but as with most things, its not your equipment that counts (though it does help), its what you do with it. Hands up folks, how many of you when it comes to taking a photo, just get your friends or family to line up and say cheese, or maybe you just take some random snaps at a party, and the baby in the bath shot? Well, although these photo's are great for remembering loved ones, and embarrassing your kids when they grow up, they are fairly boring, just another same old snap. If you want more interesting, different and ultimately beautiful shots, then carry your camera with you more often, and as you walk around, open your eyes, and experience your surroundings. Dont just ignore the scenery, look at it, and if for a moment you find it takes your breath away, then take a photo or two (or more) of it. If you see a unusual building, statue, frozen orange peel or anything that catches your attention, take that photo, you will quickly find that you build up a great collection of photos, that bring back memories (and laughs sometimes, specially frozen orange peel ones that resemble parts of human anatomy). Whilst you are doing this, try looking at things from different angles, take your photographs from high up, or crouch down low to take the photo, its amazing how different the same scene can look if you take a few different photographs of it from different places and heights. Dont worry about taking bad shots, the only way to learn is through practice, and you will learn from the mistakes. Remember too, that times change rapidly, if you had taken a lot of photographs of your local area say 10 years ago, you would probably be amazed at how the area has changed, which shops have closed down and so on. Go out and take photos of your area, you dont know what will be around in years to come and what wont be , you will have a great set of memories in your photos if you take them frequently and often. How many of you have pictures of your first car, or pictures of your first computer, what about pictures of your first workplace? Memories are more than just family snapshots, photography can be a great hobby, and who knows, one day you may even be able to sell some of your shots. The longer you do these things, the more often you will notice great opportunities and the better your photography skills will become, you will also have the added benefit that you will be seeing the world around a lot more clearly too, and when your old and your memory is failing, you can open up your albums and re-live the past through your photographs.

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                                25.11.2000 20:55
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                                Digital is best? Conventional film is best? What category do you come under? To me it doesn't matter. The idea of taking photo's is my hobby and to me you can waffle on on about your F stops, your 70 - 210 zooms or how many maga pixels your camera has. At the end of the day they all do the same thing, take photo's. I belonged to a camera club that at this minute is destroying itself by turning it back on the traditional methods of photography. The fact that digital is now very much equal to photography now doesn't mean that we just stop using what was being used before. Now don't get me wrong I'm not a stick in the mud person who doesn't like change. I enjoy both kinds of photography. Digital for it's on the spot image that lets you know how your picture came out. Convetional film because I love the feeling of wondering if your pictures are going to come out the way you wanted them to. My advice for anyone thinking about starting of in photography is to burn film. Ie take pictures like there is no tomorrow and with each picture whether they come out or not see how you can improve it. That is the way that I started and now I am a photographer for my company.

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                                19.09.2000 21:22
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                                Photographs - part technical ability, part artistic impression (as the ice-dancers would have it). But is it important to have a perfect 6.0 in each? Well, I guess you can look at it in a completely objective way - photographs are the result of a bit of physics and a bit of chemistry - a record created by some light-reactive compounds, of a few particular bits of electromagnetic radiation that happened to be in a particular configuration at a particular time. Your “technical ability” will determine whether it’s a “perfect” record of what you saw, or a photo of your own ear. On the other hand you can look at it in a more personal way - photographs are the result of someone choosing (usually) to visually record a moment in time because they thought it carried some kind of meaning, for them or for others. The photo doesn’t have to be “perfect” as long as you can tell what the subject is and that meaning is still conveyed. Everyone can associate some meaning with a particular photo (even if it’s just “I don’t know them but, they look like they’re having fun”). But if you can show the subject off to best advantage, I think more people will be able to appreciate the meaning you wish to convey. What I'm trying to put across is that there are two elements to any photograph, and while it's up to you what you concentrate on, I'm also saying that technical brilliance is not the sole key to "good" photographs (although it can help the end result to be closer to what you imagined when the shutter went "click".) It's my contention that your "eye" for a photo is much more important in taking good photos, and you can brush up on the techie stuff later. Having a flashy camera is often associated with technical prowess. It's got auto-this and adjustable-that, it must take good photos, right? Believe me, you can have the p oshest camera around and still take photos that are, well, dull. Crap, even. And you can have an £8 disposable from the chemist and take shots that will stay with you for a lifetime. The key is that *you* take the photos, the camera just helps out a bit. So what can you do to improve your pictures? * know the limitations of your equipment Don’t use a disposable at a footie match and expect photos to rival the ones on the sports pages, as it will be neither fast enough nor get you “close” enough. If you have a compact camera with a weedy flash, then don’t expect it to illuminate the inside of Wembley Stadium, or take photos of fireworks. Having said that, there is a surprising amount that can be done with compact/disposable cameras. Just be prepared for a few disappointments if you do push it to the limit! * frame your shots and avoid distractions Not the wooden kind of frame - I mean check what's in the viewfinder before you press the button. Are your mum and dad mere dots in the distance? Well move closer (unless you want the surroundings too). Are you cutting your friends off at the waist while preserving half a frame of sky, just so their faces are central? Point your camera down a bit. A good tip is to always check along the edges of your viewfinder, as most people concentrate on the centre where the subject is, and don’t notice things like pylons and branches of McDonald’s until the photos come back. And yes, we've all seen a photo of gran with a potted plant apparently growing out of her right ear. So check for unwanted interactions between your subject and other picture elements before you commit it to gelatine. * remember you can hold your camera two ways It’s amazing how many people seem to forget you can do portrait-style photos (taller than they are wide) as well as landscape (wider than they are tall). See which way fits your subject better. I would n’t have included this if I hadn’t had to point it out to people before! * check the lighting It might be bright outside, but if your subject's in shadow, your camera's probably going to be fooled. Photographs against the light (i.e. with your subject between you and the light source) are rarely good except for special effects. On the other hand, if you make your subjects face the sun, they’ll squint. * rule of thirds? Big controversy. Rules are made to be broken. Broadly - sometimes it's more effective and interesting to put focal objects and obvious lines (horizons, road edges, etc) on imaginary lines a third of the way across or up your picture. But sometimes it's not, and central positioning is better. You should try it both ways and see what's best for your individual shot. (This is really difficult to explain without illustrations!) * move your bloomin a*se! Sometimes we're just plain lazy. We just stand there and snap when there's a plethora of more interesting angles to be had. Stand on a bench, kneel down, lie down, point the camera upwards, downwards, hold it at an angle, move in really close... just experiment! Moving around can show your subject in an unusual way, help you to fill the frame and eliminate distractions, or get in other features that you couldn't otherwise. * use compositional tricks There are all kinds of things that make a photo distinctive, including: - repetition of elements (a row of beach huts all the same shape) - isolation (one beach hut on its own on a really empty beach) - natural framing (beach hut seen through a hole in the fence) - pathways (footsteps in the sand leading to a beach hut) - unexpectedness (a row of dull beach huts with a really bright one somewhere in there) - juxtaposition (old beach huts overshadowed by a new lifeboat house). The best thing to do here is look at photos tha t you like (magazine shoots and adverts work really well) and try to determine what's good about them. Don't over-analyse them, just think about what makes them stand out to you. Then try and copy, or (even better) build on, the elements you like. * get criticism There's nothing better than some good constructive criticism, and if you're taking photos of your mates, then they will surely provide some (constructive? maybe not). But for my money there's no better place to find it than your local camera club. You'll find ample opportunity to discuss your photos and see other people's work. They *should* be welcoming to photographers of all abilities and aspirations, willing to pass on in-depth knowledge and useful tips. Some may not, they can be quite cliquey and opinionated on rare occasions, but it can't hurt to try. University clubs are epsecially good as they should always cater for complete beginners. Another alternative is to take a class, if you have chance, although this can be expensive, particularly if darkroom techniques are included. * experiment! This is my absolute top tip. Buy some cheap film and just play around – to be really effective, have a notebook to scribble down settings and frame numbers, so you can compare the results properly when they come back. It's a great way of discovering composition tricks, and also fantastic if you have an SLR (single lens reflex, fully adjustable) camera which you want to find out more about using. It can get expensive, hence my exhortation to use cheap film, but there is absolutely no substitute for experience when it comes to learning. The more mistakes you make the better (as long as you have some idea why you made them!) Now, there are admittedly a whole bunch of tricks that you need more technical knowledge to use. Depth of field, very fast and very slow shutter speeds, night photography, using a macro... let alone getting into the darkroom and trying out the developing and printing malarkey, but I still say that you run the risk of being disappointed with the photos if you don't develop your "photographer's eye". A lot of people don't have sophisticated equipment, and want tips that will work for them on their point and shoot - well, these will, because all they need is a brain. And I know you have one of those :) * * * * * My history in photography - I started out with a £14.99 point and click no-brand camera from Argos, and managed to take some decent shots. Then graduated to fully manual (i.e. old) Pentax SLR as an 18th birthday present, no instructions and no automation so I am truly self-taught! I took a short camera/darkroom class while studing in the USA 5 years later. I've travelled light with disposables and point-and-click APS, even used a digital camera when out on field work, and always been pleased with the results - I've won one competition and sold photos to people as well. I'm now president of UEA photo society, giving tutorial/workshop sessions on camera use, darkroom basics, and composition, and generally having a ball taking loads of photos :) So, you see - you can do it! http://www.katysgallery.co.uk (this is my own website, and I will remove the URL if requested, but it's not for profit, and gives examples of what someone with little formal photography training can achieve)

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