A guide to picture-perfect moments

A guide to picture-perfect moments by Paula Ansley (editor: Greyton Post)

The beauty of Greyton, from the scenery to animals roaming in the streets, is a photographer’s paradise. We all love to snap away with abundant joy but a few tips from the experienced pro’s in our village can certainly go a long way to helping us hone our photographic skills!

Over the coming months we will be exploring the art of composition and applying this to a variety of photographic genres from landscape, to pets, to people. But first things first, let’s consider the camera we will be using. Many people are under the misconception that you do need to have a ‘proper’ camera to take a decent photograph but you can also get creative and take great shots with the camera on your phone.

So which camera is for you?

If you love taking photos and videos, you might be wondering whether you should invest in a DSLR camera or just use your iPhone.

DSLR stands for digital single-lens reflex, which is a type of camera that uses a mirror to reflect light from the lens to the viewfinder or the sensor. DSLR cameras have interchangeable lenses, large sensors, and manual controls that allow you to capture high-quality images with creative effects. However, they are also often bulky, expensive, and complex to use. On the other hand, iPhone cameras are built into your smartphone, which means they are always with you, easy to use, and easy to share photos. iPhone cameras have improved significantly over the years with features such as optical zoom, portrait mode, night mode, cinematic mode, and more. I enjoy capturing images with  all types of cameras and work within the limits of each type, but there are basic rules I always keep in mind when it comes to composition, subject and light.

Does size matter?

The megapixel (MP) is the equivalent of horsepower and megahertz – a single metric overused by salespeople but proven to be a successful lure by which to hook potential camera buyers. The MP count is just one of many aspects that define the capacity of the camera to produce decent images, although a major factor in this is the level of skill of the photographer.

To start at the beginning, a picture is made up of little dots called pixels. ’Pixel’ stands for PICture Element and if enough of these pixels are put together then you will see an image.  If you get really close to your computer screen or use a magnifying glass you will see these, and if you move further away the image takes form.

The technical part

You will also hear of ‘resolution’ which refers to how many pixels you have in an image either along the width or the height of the photo. The total pixel count is expressed as ‘megapixels’ which is calculated by the number of horizontal pixels x the vertical pixels, just as you would calculate the area of a square. As an example:

  • A 10 megapixel camera = 3648 pixels x 2736 pixels =   7 777 888 pixels (7 MP)
  • A 14 megapixel camera = 4500 pixels x 3200 pixels = 14 400 000 pixels (14 MP)

The difference between a 10 MP camera and a 14 MP camera isn’t really that large but the price can be. Small differences in pixel count, for example between a 10 MP camera and a 14 MP camera, are unnoticeable. It only takes a 40% increase in width pixel count to double the MP count!  For typical-sized photos – 4 x 6”, 5 x 7”, and A4 size, you will not notice a difference in resolution. The art of fantastic photography comes from the photographer who spends time considering composition and light whereas, in my opinion, the megapixel can be a marketing push to encourage you to spend more money on a new state-of-the-art camera.

The early digital SLR cameras in 1999 were 1 to 2 MP, so MP count was important for larger prints. Nowadays, even basic entry level cameras are above 10 MP which is quite sufficient for high quality photographs. Some years ago it was thought that 12 MP would be sufficient for all professional photographers, and above this no further true benefit would be realised.

Maybe this is why Apple stayed with 12 MP cameras on the iPhone for many years. Saying that, they have recently launched the iPhone 14 Pro with a 48 MP main camera and a 12 MP rear camera – quite a leap for the photographically-minded but do we really see the difference at a hobbyist level?

I do wonder if large-body DSLR cameras are coming to an end with such powerful phone cameras, much like film moving to digital. (although there are traditionalists still shooting with our beloved film, and developing from negatives in hidden darkrooms!).  For me personally, nothing beats the clicking sound of a DSLR lens shutting, but hey, that has already been digitally reproduced!

Next month we will look at basic composition rules so choose your camera and we will get shooting.

Source: Greyton Post


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