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Landscape Photography Anecdotes - Read Your Camera Manual - In the sixth and final installment in this series of beginners landscape articles, Martin Pettinger looks at how simply reading your camera manual thouroughly can improve your pictures.
Last weekend I took my youngest children to the local play park. It is a breezy Autumn day and on the way to the park I collected a couple of striking leaves and called on a local amateur photographer - George. Now George is partially disabled and cannot get out too much, in the local photography club and they are having a competition called natures patterns. “Here George - sellotape these on your window and take a macro shot with your digital compact” I suggest.
“Sorry Martin the closest my camera will focus is about 4 feet - we tried it at the camera club last week and that’s the closest it will go” Anyway I ask for the manual and point out that it will go as close as 4” if (And this is the vital bit) you have the camera set at wide angle. George had been trying to use macro and telephoto at the same time.
“While you’re here I cannot find the self timer or how to bracket my exposures” Again using the manual I show George how to set the camera for the self timer and for bracketing which is essential as his camera doesn’t have a histogram. Now George has read his manual but only a little bit is in English and the main stuff is on a CD which is no use to George as he doesn't own a computer.
Now George is really pleased as in 10 minutes I have shown him how to get as close as 4 inches for macro shots, I have shown him the self timer - which is essential as he has a disability and he can now bracket his exposures. My next challenge is to teach George how to meter manually with his camera as it has a spot meter feature. Your challenge like mine is to check your camera manual - to date I still haven’t used bracketing but there has been times when I should have!
Like my previous article on equipment - there’s always a temptation to want a 'better' camera when the features you need are actually in the camera you own or another technique will yield 'better' pictures. Oh and those leaves I stuck them on my own windows much to the puzzlement of my wife. The image of a leaf is one of the frames I took.