October Monthly Challenge: Photography

I have had a few types of real cameras in my 27 years.  As a child, I was given a Kodak Cameo Motor 110 film camera for Christmas.  I don’t recall taking many pictures with it or even being very interested in photography.  I did like that it was really small and had an interesting flash that popped way up from the camera.  That camera broke within a couple of years and when I was a young teen I was given another cheapish film camera.  This one left even less of an impression on me and it also either broke or was lost/donated a few years later.

Buying a camera didn’t even occur to me until I was in my graduate program and signed up for a class that required the students submit a plant collection notebook.  In years past, and is still this way for many classes, this would be a series. of plant parts pressed and dried into a notebook or attached.  Some years ago, this teacher started allowing students to take pictures of the plants and created a notebook with the pictures of the various plant parts.  More recently, with the continued advancements in technology, he now allows students to take digital images and upload them into a Powerpoint slide show and submit this “virtual plant collection” for their project.  Seeing as I was not interested in pulling up plants, pressing, drying, hand labeling, and hauling this collection all over campus, I decided to purchase a digital camera.  Side note: I did end up having to make a physical plant collection for another class after making a digital plant collection for the first.

However, I wasn’t going to just run out to a random store and buy the first camera I saw.  I did visit stores and find a few cameras I found interesting.  Later I went online and compared options and reviews for many, many brands and models. After a few weeks I settled on a Sony DSC H7 which has served me very well.  I have taken a lot of pictures with this camera.  Some people say that I’m pretty decent.  Do I know what I am doing yet? Not so much.

A few years ago, an acquaintance of mine noticed that I had submitted some pictures into a photography contest put on by a professional plant science society and offered me “an old camera” that he had acquired some years ago and was practically new.  It sounded interesting and so he brought it by my office a couple of weeks later.  I didn’t expect him to walk through the door with an almost-new Minolta Autocord from the 1960s.  It is a beautiful camera that I haven’t spent as much time as I would like to on learning how to use it.

One less-than-awesome thing about my primary camera, the Sony, is that it is bulky.  It is hard to take on outdoor trips and is a real spacehog when flying.  For a couple of years I have been looking to buy a camera that is a bit smaller to take on adventures and have looked off and on for one.  While planning a monster trip for two conferences, with a vacation sandwiched in the middle, I wrote down to pack one of the work cameras.  They are a few cameras we use in demonstration events with decent zoom and picture quality.  Yeah, totally forgot to pack it.  I remembered the camera after driving for a couple of hours and decided that this may be the excuse I was looking for to finally buy a smaller camera for traveling.

I did something I never do.  I walked into a store and picked out a camera that looked good.  Well, I did have my smartphone and spent about a half an hour looking up reviews for it, but I didn’t research compact cameras for weeks before settling on one.

I am now the owner of an Olympus sz-12 that has a 24x zoom, two types of macro settings, built-in filters, programmable setting for certain factors (EV, ISO, and white balance) but not others (aperture and f-stop).  The only real criticisms were picture quality indoors and in low light, though I have never seen a camera that DID NOT have that criticism, and a potentially short battery life.

Some of the pictures that I will post for October will be taken with my Sony and some with the Olympus.  I’ll mention in the posts what I was trying to accomplish with each shot and what I had issues with.  I am not a great photographer, I don’t know much about the technical aspects of camera technology and I don’t use photoshop.  I use picasa and a Sony image program to do very minor edits images; adjusting darkness, removing dust from the image, nudging contrast, and cropping/straightening.  I take pictures for fun and to show others what I have seen.  I hope you enjoy the next few posts!

Self portrait


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Filed under Adventure, Pictures

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