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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A new lease of photographic life

It's amazing what an effect that podcast has had on my feelings towards photography. It's really got me excited, makes me want to just take photos all over the place!

Having an understanding of where digital photography is now and where it's going in the future is also very exciting. I love taking photos, and I love gadgets, thus hearing about the incredible new technologies that are being developed is really something to get jumpy-up-and-down about. As was said on the podcast, we're now reaching the stage where digital photography has gone as far as it can in duplicating what film can do - we're on this tipping point where the very nature of photography starts to change as technology enables us to do things that were never possible before.

Things like the new Nikon which can basically see more than the human eye can in low light conditions it's that sensitive. Bye bye flash, hello low-light shots without grain.

I've also started to use the iso function on my Nikon D40x (iso determines the sensitivity of the sensor to light, but the more sensitive it is, the more grainy the image gets, just like with film (over 400 iso tends to = graininess)). I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but it was only last week when doing the food photo shoot that I realised I could manually set the iso. With a film camera you never had that choice - you put a 200 speed film in and that was that. Thus, I had no prior experience of having that choice and thus didn't consider it an option.

Bamboo forest, Arashiyama



Looking through my photo library when sorted by iso, I see that I have shot quite a few with my D40x at 1600 iso without knowing it (when in auto mode) - and I must say, I'm pretty staggered by the lack of grain.

Listening to the podcast has also brought Apple's Aperture 2 to my attention. Released a couple of weeks back, it's Apple's newest version of their answer to Adobe Lightroom. I downloaded the trial version last night before I went to bed. Seven hours later it was still importing my library of over 19,000 photos. I waited, and waited, and finally, when it was done, gave it a spin.

It's nice, and sure, it's well-integrated into the other Apple Apps - but it still doesn't compare to LightRoom - so I'll be sticking with that.

Unlike Photoshop, as well as being a photo library, Lightroom is primarily designed for making general adjustments to RAW images (as opposed to JPEGS etc), adjustments such as saturation, colour balance, exposure etc. It's not for manipulating specific areas of a photo. Most non DSLR cameras record images in JPEG, which essentially means that the camera itself is deciding how to interpret the image captured through the lens. When you shoot in RAW, you just get the basic raw data, and you decide how it is interpreted before exporting it for print or publishing.

I'm also finding myself more and more inclined to not consider making a lot of money out of photography. I'd rather keep it as a hobby, using the images to illustrate my website / books etc.

So yeah, it's all good.

Right, on with this newspaper article about the Kaguya space probe. Talk about new vocab...!

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