It’s never easy to find the perfect Christmas present, but it’s a good time to take advantage of the many special offers in the shops and upgrade your digital camera or computer or buy a new gadget or gizmo. In case you need a little inspiration here are a few ideas:-
If you’d like some help and advice on choosing a new camera, laptop or accessory or a gift certificate please feel free to contact me by email or phone.
Get close to emphasise colour
Autumn is probably the best season for anyone keen on photography. It’s a wonderful time to capture landscape and nature images in vibrant colour. Despite the rain we are all accustomed to; the occasional sunny spell with blue skies and billowing clouds makes an ideal backdrop for the changing autumn hues of red and gold. Autumn is the perfect time to improve your photography skills so why not sign up for a photo day out and learn how to get the most out of your camera.
Here are a few tips to help you get started and capture the autumn colour:-
If you’d like to learn more about using your camera to capture landscape and nature why not sign up for an autumn workshop or a photo shoot day out this autumn and get hands on practical tuition?
Cattle grazing on dartmoor
August saw some much welcome sunshine and a little less rain finally making it possible for keen photographers to get out and take some photos of the things they love, be it family or friends, celebrations, holidays, wildlife, nature or just great scenic shots. A lucky few may even have some great Olympic shots.
So having managed to get some great shots, that you are hopefully proud of, the next challenge is what are you going to do with your new photos? Anyone who owns a digital camera has usually worked out how to download them on to their computer, even if they are not entirely sure how this actually happens or exactly where they get stored afterwards!
But the next step is not always as clear.
Well the simple is answer is that you need to complete a digital workflow, using image editing software. This involves a few simple steps to process your images ready for printing and sharing. When we owned film cameras we were used to getting our films 'processed’ and receiving printed images back unaware of the
work that went on behind the scenes. But with advance of digital cameras we have forgotten this vitally important step and assume images will be perfect straight from the camera. Digital Camera’s are less tolerant of challenging light conditions and a little adjustment to exposure, white balance or colour can make a big improvement.
Turn snaps into stunning 'studio style' portraits
Many new cameras have settings and features that enable basic in-camera processing and for the casual social photographer this may be all that is required to produce acceptable images. But you will always get superior results if you learn to take charge yourself.
I am often asked why printed images never look as good as the ones you pay for. Once again this is often due to a lack of knowledge of how to set up and select the correct printer options or simply the result of poor quality paper & ink or the limited capabilities of an out dated printer.
A custom photo book layout
But the biggest problem facing your photos is the risk of being trapped on your computer, unused and forgotten. Remember photos should be seen. So print and share your favourite shots; turn them in to framed pictures; cards; calendars or what about a stunning photo book to be proudly displayed on your coffee table?
If this all sounds a bit too difficult why not sign up for some local training and discover what you can do with your photos. Learn how to organise, find and process your images. Get simple tips to print stunning photos at home and find out how to turn your photos into works of art.
If you love the web find out how to back up and share your photos online or for the ultimate showcase discover how to create slide shows and DVD’s with music and special effects to share with family and friends.
Following the wettest July on record everyone is hoping for some holiday sun. So whether you have chosen to travel to warmer climates or will be holidaying in the UK here are a few ideas and tips to help you take the right camera with you and have a hassle free time.
Nokia Lumia 920
When travelling it makes sense to pack essentials items and with reduced luggage
allowances choosing which gadgets to take with you is more important than ever. Whether it’s a relaxing holiday or the trip of a lifetime you will want to take photographs to remind you of the best bits.
The latest smart phones often come with excellent cameras offering a range of settings and options to rival many compact cameras. They also allow you to take advantage of free Wi-Fi to keep in touch with friends and family whilst travelling and avoid expensive international roaming charges.
If you are taking an SLR camera on holiday make sure it fits into a compact bag, this is essential if you are flying as it will also need to fit in your hand luggage. Start by choosing the right lens, what you intend to photograph will influence your choice, but a wide angel and a decent telephoto lens between 200-300mm will cover most subjects. An increasingly popular choice for travel photography is a super zoom, this offers the best of both worlds by combining the versatility of a wide angle with a decent zoom capability allowing you to get in closer, a third party lens such as the Tamron AF 18-270mm is more affordable and a can be a good investment if you travel a lot.
Another option is to upgrade an older compact camera for one that offers 14 to 30 x zoom, canon and Panasonic have an excellent range of high zoom cameras. If you don’t mind spending more why not consider the increasingly popular travellers choice – a compact system camera with inter-changeable lens. Smaller and lighter than a traditional SLR with many of the features, but not always a view finder, for the price of an entry level SLR these are available from Panasonic, Olympus and Nikon.
Whichever type of camera you choose remember to pack extra storage cards; a spare battery & the charger; a polarising filter if your camera takes one and your lens hood to help combat reflection & glare. Remember, it is safer to use several smaller memory cards than one super capacity card. If you only take one card and it is lost or stolen you will also lose all your photos. Change your card regularly and keep used cards in a separate location to your camera! Don’t forget to check that your camera kit is fully insured before you go and make a record of the serial numbers for your kit if you haven’t already done so.
Acer 11.6" Netbook
A Net book can be an excellent travel accessory. You can download, review and email your photos and even phone home for free using Wi-Fi. Now relatively inexpensive at about £200, they are light weight, have lots of storage space and a proper key board making them far better value than any tablet PC with its limited use and storage. Check out Asus, Samsung, Sharp, Toshiba and HP.
Finally remember cameras & gadgets are highly desirable to street thieves, so take care of your camera or someone else will get to enjoy your holiday snaps at your expense.
As April approaches it’s time for a little spring cleaning, but not just your home. It’s just as important to tidy up and clean your valuable PC and Camera kit and you will be rewarded by an improvement in both its look and performance.
Sort email into folders
Let’s start with your PC. Check out your email’s over crowed inbox. File important emails, such as receipts or account details in suitable named folders and save any attachments you want to keep, such as photos or documents. Then delete all those
out of date marketing emails, the jokes you never read and the routine emails you replied to long ago. Try sorting your emails by who they are from so you can select blocks of emails to delete. Remember to switch back to sort by date when you have finished. Now take a look at your contacts and update or delete any that are out of date or duplicates. Finally make a resolution to keep your inbox tidy by deleting messages you don’t need to keep once you have read them!
Next take a look at the Documents and Pictures folders and tidy up the contents by filing stray items. If you haven’t already got a filing system it’s as good a time as any to start one. Create folders for different types of documents and try organising your photos by creating main folders for each year. Don’t forget to tidy the desktop too by deleting unwanted shortcut icons. Also consider uninstalling any software you no longer use; updating windows and other software and running the disk clean up and disk defragmenter
Daunted by the thought of tackling this alone? If you would like to find out more about how to organise your PC why not book a one to one session or join a local class or workshop?
check your memory cards
Now let’s turn our attention to your camera kit. Start by checking your memory cards and download any forgotten images and then make sure ALL your photos are backed up to an external Hard Drive or DVD, it’s all too easy to forget this vital step. You can then Format the memory cards in the camera, you’ll find this option on the menu settings. Next empty your camera case, remove any dust or debris & wipe out with a damp and then remove and clean the camera strap too. Next clean the camera lens using a lens cloth and suitable lens cleaner, and then the LCD screen. If you own a DSLR remember to clean all your lenses and remove and clean any lens filters, on both sides.
Firmware update screen
Just like your PC your camera runs on software, called firmware, and you should make sure that it is running on the latest version. Check out the settings menu to find the version details and then visit the support section of the manufacturer’s web site to locate any firmware updates. You should download them to a memory card and then follow the instructions in the user guide to install the firmware update.
Now give yourself a pat on the back, pick up your camera and get out a take some great spring photos, then enjoy downloading and viewing them on your newly organised PC.
For more help and advice on using your camera or PC why not book an introductory one to one session at the special offer price of just £40 for 2 hours. Alternatively why not reward yourself with a day out at a wild life or spring colour Photo Shoot and improve your camera skills.
As the nights draw out the first signs of spring arrive. Crisp days with clear blue skies filled with billowing white clouds, colourful sun sets and the changing scenery as the landscape is softened by the early spring flowers.
Take a walk in the surrounding Yealmpton woods and you will be greeted with an abundance of snow drops this year. Primroses are beginning to bloom and before you know it the daffodils will soon be cheering us all up. Local National Trust gardens such as Cothele and Lanhydrock will soon be over flowing with daffodils so why not pay a visit this March and take a stroll round the gardens with your camera.
Spring is the perfect time to perfect your camera skills and learn how to get the most from your camera, whether it is a fairly new acquisition or one you have had for a while. Learning more about how to use it will ensure you capture some stunning spring photos.
Shoot from low angle
For spring colour you need to get up close and personal with the flora and fauna. Many cameras have multi-angle LCD screens making it easier than ever to get the perfect view. Plants close to the ground look best when shot from the side, rather than from above with you standing over them. So take something to kneel on and get down to plant level to take your shot. Check out the Macro settings on your camera to get super close-ups of snow drops and other plants. When shooting close up a steady hand is essential so consider investing in a mini tripod or a bean bag for less than£10 to ensure you get really steady shots.
A Nuthatch at the feeder
Early spring is a busy time at the bird table, so don’t forget to keep the all day buffet topped up! You will be rewarded with an abundance of visitors to your table as they prepare for spring and the young they hope to rear. To get the most from your bird table make sure it is sited close a tree or hedge so the birds feel safe and most importantly so you have a clear view from a window. With a few preparations you can then photograph the visiting birds, and squirrels, and stay warm.
When shooting through glass always remember to clean it inside and out. A compact zoom or SLR camera with a zoom lens is the best choice but if the bird table is close enough you can still get great shots with a compact camera. If you can shoot in Program mode and select an ISO of 200-400 as this will speed up the exposure and enable you to get clearer shots. Choose single point or small area focusing and focus on the eye or head of the bird. To get the best shots use a tripod and leave your camera set up ready to go when you have lots of visitors.
If you would like to practice your camera skills and discover how to get better photos why not join a local spring photo shoot to capture spring colour or wildlife and get expert hands on advice on how to get shots that wow.