Idle thoughts 1 - Take control


I make no great claims for my photography. But I do try very hard not to be boring.
Thanks for calling in. Moira
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Idle thoughts 1 - Take control

8 Jan 2015 2:43PM   Views : 699 Unique : 455

Yesterday's post was my first ever blog. Yes, Folks, I Was A Blog Virgin...

Anyway I listed some of the things that we say most frequently in the Critique Gallery. Now I'm going to look at them individually.

I'm starting in the kitchen. Bear with me, this is relevant...

Just before Christmas my old microwave gave up the ghost and I replaced it in Curry's sale. I found a really good bargain, a reputable brand, less than half price, very neat looking, the specifications on the card were exactly what I wanted. Of course you can't actually plug it in and try it out in the shop...

I got it home, unpacked it, plugged it in, tried turning dials and pressing knobs. Absolutely nothing recognisable happened.

OK, if all else fails, check out the manual... Well you need to read as far as page 9 before it tells you how to unpack the thing, and then it's straight into delayed start, combining defroster with reduced-power cooking... And I couldn't get any of that to work.

I fiddled around, and found a number of automatic settings. A1, A2, A3, A4... I couldn't sort out what any of them did, and none of them worked particularly well.

Eventually after a couple of days frustration I started to find my way round. You have to press the defrost button twice, not once, to select it. The timer dial works anti-clockwise, going backwards from 95 minutes to 30 seconds. Then you can turn clockwise but you can't start off clockwise...

It seems totally illogical (a bit like the largest aperture having the lowest F number not the highest), but I'm sure there is a logic. (There's a perfectly logical explanation for the F number, after all).

It's all there in the manual by the way, but it's a couple of brief sentences tucked away under masses of other guff. Very much like my Nikon manuals...

There are still a couple of things that I need to sort out, but I'm getting there. I can tell it to do exactly what I want, and how I want it done.

So what has this got to do with photography? A very great deal. A digital camera, of whatever description or level, is a highly sophisticated machine, capable of doing far more things than you are ever actually likely to need. But as with other sophisticated machines microwaves, washing machines, central heating systems, tumble-dryers the quality of the results depends to a very large extent on the quality of the instructions that you give it.

So if you want to get your money's worth, find out what the main controls actually mean, and what they can do for you. Start with the basics ISO, aperture, shutter speed; getting just one focus point and using it properly. And then take control, because that's how you'll stand a better chance of getting the pictures that you want.

Do look at the manual, even if it devotes umpteen pages to 'This is the front of the camera. This is the back of the camera...' and then dives straight into in-camera HDR and action-tracking, possibly combined. The basic essentials will be tucked in there too. But just as important, experiment with settings and look at the results.

And if you really want to use scene modes, at least make sure that you know and understand the parameters within which each mode calculates settings.

The camera has an extremely good brain when it comes to calculation, but it has no imagination or initiative. You need to supply that.

Tags: Critique Critique gallery Critique Team

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TanyaH Avatar
TanyaH Plus
20 1.3k 411 United Kingdom
9 Jan 2015 10:00AM
Love the kitchen analogy Grin Having just installed a new dishwasher, I can completely relate to the microwave scenario ... I'm always so paranoid about not following the instructions they supply, which are often written in double-dutch and completely illogical, and then wonder why I spend days dithering around about using salt when I use a tablet that's got salt in it, and the flippin' instruction book says 'You CAN use salt as well if you use a combined tablet if you want to'. Huh??? Well, should I or shouldn't I? Just tell me A or B - don't give me the option of using both, maybe, possibly, if I want to ... I'm not a technician!

Then my other half said "Don't worry - if you blow it up, we'll just go buy another one". Wise words indeed from a man in relation to a kitchen appliance ... Wink

Hazelmouse Avatar
Hazelmouse 17 379 United Kingdom
9 Jan 2015 4:48PM
But reading the manual seems to be asking the impossible for some people!

2 examples (we'll exclude my other half from this altogether -Never reads them!). Man on the same safari holiday as me, with a bridge camera. Frustrated that he couldn't get a picture of a certain bird we kept seeing. Hadn't read the manual so couldn't catch it as it flew off. Also wanted it to playback images in a certain way. Had he even BROUGHT the manual ? No, of course not.

Lady joined camera club - her partner as the more 'serious' photographer. She goes on a birding holiday without him. New compact camera. I ask if she has got to grips with it. No, but 'I'll read the manual on the plane'. She didn't.

213hardy Avatar
213hardy 15 719 England
11 Jan 2015 4:38PM
Ah the manual - as a bloke i have a natural aversion to any written instruction (unless from the lovely Mrs H, then it's followed to the letterWink ) , consquently i usually chuck the manual and just have a fiddle.

Which is pretty much what i did when i got my DSLR, although I bought it second hand and didn't come with a nikon manual, it did come with the Dummies guide though. Which has been refered to on occasion, particularly when i know it's capable of something, but i can't figure it out.

And here's the but, manuals tend to be written by tech geeks (board sweeping statement there!), which when even using their basic language, is still several levels above everyone elses, so here's my advice, if you can't figure it out and the manual appears to be written in mandarin, ASK someone, in my experience, most are happy to help as most will have been in the same situation themselves at some point. Smile


PS: As someone whose never blogged before, Moira, you are a natural Smile
mrswoolybill Avatar
mrswoolybill Plus
16 4.6k 2635 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2015 5:04PM
That's good advice, Den. We sit around at our U3A Photography group sometimes discussing settings (Nikon users are in the majority Smile ). At a recent meeting we all confessed to being stumped by one setting.
Manuals are amazingly un-user-friendly. They are written for geeks not photographers.
I am the least technically minded person on earth - that should be obvious from the microwave story, my daughter groaned when I told her about my problems. But I have forced myself to understand the bits that I need in the manual.

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