Digital Photography

How I Got Started...

I do so much digital photography, as you can see from the site, that people have asked me to comment a little about this particular hobby. Once upon a time, like most red-blooded American males, I wanted to take Photos. That's capital "P" for photography, not to be confused with ordinary family snapshots. A man who takes Photos has no time for snapshots. I got the usual alpha-male 35mm rig--a Nikon with a bunch of interchangeable lenses. The Lexus crowd will buy Canon/Minolta and the Mercedes/Porsche guys buy Nikon. It all makes sense.

This was done after pouring over magazine reviews and spec sheets for months beforehand, again, in normal red-blooded American male fashion (and they say guys aren't process oriented the way women are!). I also bought a super cool 8mm Sony video camera. I bought the video camera while we were driving to the airport on the way to our first big vacation as a couple--a Caribbean cruise--to give you some idea of how deep in the throes I was. I used to wander odd places looking for just the right Photo. I remember checking out abandoned train yards, the zoo, and other "atmospheric" places.

What finally broke me of all this was a couple of things. First, I wasn't spending any time looking at the product--the printed photos. All the time was in taking new pictures and buying gear. Again, this is not all that uncommon for the American male on a toy binge. Second, taking all those pictures was requiring significant time, and lugging all that gear was a pain. It culminated in the afore-mentioned Caribbean cruise where I wound up feeling like I saw my vacation through the viewfinder of a camera, and then never looked at the tape. The "upgrade" videocam I bought to replace the Sony has never even been used, and I have 2 Nikon bodies and a gaggle of lenses gathering dust in my closet.

So what brought me back? Canon's amazing Elph cameras, kids, this web site, my friend Steve Kahn, my friend Steve Elefant, my month in the Caribbean, and getting older. Whew! That's a lot of contributing influences!

When you have kids you have to take pictures. They just change too fast. When you get older, you start to accumulate enough memories that are far enough back that you wish for a picture of the event. I knew I didn't want to lug the Nikon or video camera around, but I also knew I needed to start taking some pictures. The kids are a shared event, after all, with grand parents and such wanting to see photos of events they couldn't attend. The Canon Elph was perfect for this. It's the lightest smallest possible camera, and still takes decent pictures. I've noticed I tend to be bipolar in life. I want both the cheap, convenient (i.e. Canon Elph or MP-3's) and the super high end and barely practical (i.e. the Nikon cameras or Krell music system).

Eventually, I got interested in doing this web site as well, and I needed a ready source of digital photos. My first thought was to just get a scanner and use my Elph's film photos. About the same time my friend Steve Kahn got really overboard on digital cameras. He's been through a bunch of them, and also a bunch of printers. He's taken courses and seminars and photo trips and who knows what all else. He's back at that alpha-male stage of the hobby I started in. His pictures are spectacular, and the best part was in seeing that a digital camera can rival a film camera for these applications. He made me see the potential.

Kuma and Rachel...

I remember he had an 8 1/2 by 11 print of a picture similar to the one above in his office. You could see every hair of that dog's fur! I thought to myself, "Self, these digital cameras are plenty good enough for what you want to do, why not get one?" As serendipity would have it, Canon had released a digital version of the Elph I so loved, so in a fit of toy aggression, me and another guy from work drove immediately down to the local camera store and paid too much to buy one. But damn, it was so cool!

The Caribbean trip with Steve Elefant was the final crystallizer. I was planning to take my film Elph--who wanted a finnicky delicate digital gizmo on a trip into the bush? Steve basically insisted that was a dumb idea and that I should buy a couple of extra 64MB memory cards and bring the digital. It all made sense. Who wanted to lug all that film around anyway? I took the trip, shot 400+ pictures (how many rolls is that?), came back and uploaded them all to this web site. It was great!

My first digicam, a digital Elph, shot in a mirror. Note the dent!

Other Digicams I Have Known...

The Elph is not the end of the story. Read about the full-on digicam gear saga here!

Image Processing by Bob...

Where I tell you what little I know about the art of the digital dark room.

I used to use Paint Shop Pro 7 as my photo-retouching program, but I have now converted to the more powerful, more expensive, and much harder to use PhotoShop. Using these programs is one of the best aspects of digital photography. It means you get a custom professional darkroom in your own home. I've saved many a mediocre picture this way and enhanced quite a few others. There are endless books available to tell you how to do this and its easier than you'd think.

Before and After pix...

Useful Links

Digital Photography Review: The best review site, bar none, I have ever seen online. Everyone else should strive to be like these guys! In this case, they review digital cameras.
The Luminous Landscape: A great site where professional photographers are trying to pass along some wisdom about their art to the rest of us. Can appear to be a little fussy and hyper-critical to the casual photographer.
Digital Photo Contest: Enter a daily photo in their contest to win prizes. Get your photos critiqued. See how other photographers work.
Jasc Learning Center: Links to a bunch of cool tutorials on how to use PaintShop Pro.
State of Entropy: Awesome machine-age web design tutorial for PaintShop Pro.
Pinoy7: More awesome machine-age web design tutorials for PaintShop Pro.
Laurence is a mad man with these bird pictures! He's discovered a brilliant way to capture close ups of birds in Malaysia with a spotting scope. Amazing pix here!
Megapixel.Net is a well written site featuring contests, photo galleries, reviews, and articles on technique.
Norman Koren is one of the masters who deigns to share his technique with the rest of us mortals.
Dan Heller. What does this guy not have a photo of? 10,000 travel photos together with some tutorials. One caveat--he does most of his work by scanning film pictures. Amazing.

Check Out My Favorite Photos...

All material 2001-2006, Robert W. Warfield.