Behind the Lens - BackCountryBound

People often ask what kind of camera I use to capture a particular image.  It may be an action shot or a landscape image.  They ask, how did you get the camera to produce an image that looks like a painting?

This area of our site will give you some insight about the equipment used and the post processing programs used.  It will not teach you how to do it, as this would take volumes.  

The most important thing to remember. "The camera does not make the photographer, the photographer thru their thorough knowledge of their equipment and compositional skills, make the image."    

Do Not, wait until you are out in the field to learn about your camera!  Go out and take pictures, thousands of them if you must.  In the digital age, images cost nothing.  If you don't like it -- "Delete" and try again.  Experiment, try all the different setting.  READ THE MANUAL!!!!

I use several cameras, depending on what, when and where.  My current main camera is an Olympus EM1 MkII. Tripods, monopods and ball-heads are from Manfrotto and MeFoto.  I use a Olympus OM-D EM5 MkII, as a backup camera.    I use the following Olympus lens, M.Zuiko 7-14 F2.8, M.Zuiko ED 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens, a M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm F2.8 Pro, which are all, like the cameras, weatherproof and sealed.  In addition to the Pro series lens, I use the following Olympus prime lens, 17mm F1.8, 25mm F1.8, 45mm F1.8 and the 75mm F1.8.  For super long shots I use a Panasonic 100-300mm version II.  Both camera bodies utilize a 5 axis image stabilization system which is outstanding, allowing one to rarely ever need a tripod.

The Olympus camera came about after a lot of research.  I was wanting to downsize from years of using Canon gear and lighten my load for travel and just everyday casual shooting.  Because I do a lot of outdoor photography, weather sealing was a priority.  Olympus offered great weather sealing against moisture and dust.  Several of their lens offer the same protection.  The past few years Olympus and several other mirror-less manufacturers have really stepped up their game as an alternative to the full size DSLR market with some outstanding products.

I had used Canon products because I started using Canon in the film age and as the digital age started, some accessories would adapt to the digital equipment.  That is not necessarily the case today.  By staying with the same manufacturer most all the menus and language are the same across the lineup, making any transitions between cameras easy. Different manufacturers have their own terminology, unique to their equipment. 

As far as software is concerned,  I use Photoshop and Lightroom, with Nik and Topaz software plug-ins.  I mainly use Lightroom, as it is non-destructive to the original image.

Concerning DSLR cameras.  No matter who the manufacturer is, buy the best lens your budget can afford.  A good quality lens is the window to your camera.

Do Not depend on post processing programs to make up for a bad picture.  Take the best picture possible every time.  You will learn to do this thru practice and learning what your camera is capable of.  Do Not wait until that special moment to learn about your camera.  Just go out and take random pictures of all different types of subject matter, under all sorts of varying conditions.  Take night shots, indoors and out.  Try some sunset shots.  Try using different settings on your camera to see what the outcome is.  Don't be afraid, if it isn't what you like, delete it and try another setting, until you get the desired result.  Like a computer, the camera often needs to be programed to fit your particular style.

I can not stress enough to do your homework before purchasing a camera.  If all you are going to do is shoot with it on automatic, DO NOT buy an expensive camera!  The higher end cameras tend to be designed and geared toward the more educated photographer who will manually go into the camera and program it to his particular style of photography.  As an example, some high end cameras don't come with a flash built in.  The user must know how to set the camera up without using a flash or they are purposely using an external flash source.

Decide what type of photography are you going to be doing.  Will it be landscapes?  If so, you want something with a wide angle.  How about sports?  In this case look for a camera that has a high FPS rate (frames per second) so you can capture the action continuously. Just for vacations, capturing the family and the kids growing up?  A good general, light weight, compact camera that is easily carried or can be kept close at hand for those unexpected moments.

Do not discount the point and shoot camera.  Most manufacturers have some high end point and shoot cameras, that have the capability of being used as you would a DSLR.  They can be put in manual mode and you can control various functions, just like you do on a DSLR.

I strongly suggest, no matter what kind of camera you have, go to the photography section of your local bookstore.  There are tons of books showing various photographic techniques.  There are also numerous books written by photographers, detailing all the functions of specific cameras.  Don't forget You Tube, tons of tutorials on all aspects of photography.  Search for your specific camera and find out all about your camera on You Tube.  Looking at a particular model camera, again do a search on You Tube or Google it before you buy, to see if it fits your needs and what other people have experienced.

Last but not least, do not forget your camera phone!  They have become so advanced today.  Most can download directly to your computer via the Internet.  So even if you are traveling and something happens to your phone, the pictures are not lost.

I hope some of the information I have shared will help those starting into photography.  Like everything else today, photography has become very sophisticated and technical.  It does not have to be.  Most people just want to capture those special moments in life.  They are not wanting to make a living with photography.

A few years ago I was doing some "mentoring" in some local clubs.  The next thing I know, I was being asked to do specific presentations on topics I really was not familiar with.  This required in some cases a lot of research.  Then trying to explain these topics to people who had all different types of cameras, with different programing, etc., became very frustrating. Now I am spending more time away from my own enjoyment of photography.  Bottom line, I put my cameras down and got to where I lost my desire for photography.  I dropped out of the photo clubs and walked away.

I had done what I so desperately tried not to get other people to do.  I had gotten so technical, I forgot how to just have fun with photography.  So don't let buying a camera overwhelm you to the point it is so complicated and technical you won't use the camera.  If you are not making a living with photography, go out and have fun and enjoy it.  Maybe start a photo web site to share with family and friends.   Make a book of your vacation or of the kids growing up.  Something that can be viewed later in life or passed on for the next generation.  The possibilities are endless.........

Just remember, whatever you do with photography, don't forget to have fun......

                                      Making memories