Thursday, 5 July 2012

Beauty and the Beast


With every camera I have ever had, I have set it to 'auto' and just pressed the shutter button.  I have never even bothered with 'white balance', which explains why most of my nocturnal interior shots look as though they have been swamped in yellow dye.

From my point of view, I have enough obsessions already, so to add photography to them would take up too much time which could otherwise be wasted less productively.  I have just about managed to stop myself becoming obsessed with expensive wrist watches, which means that I can spend money that I have not got on other things, like old candlesticks.

A camera, for me, is a tool most usually taken to work, but when selling ideas through pictures, it is always good to make the pictures as appealing as possible.  I learnt that when buying horribly photographed, early Georgian drinking glasses on eBay for about 10% of what they were actually worth.  Some of these photos were even lying on their side, because the seller did not know how to flip an image on their computer.

So I was driving down a country lane yesterday when I happened to glance out of the window to see this dramatic landscape.  I also happened to have my camera with me, so I got out of the car and turned it on.  Then I accidentally flipped past the 'auto' function and found a setting called 'panorama', so I selected that instead.  I have tried to use this feature in the past but - like most men with gadgets - I had begun using the new camera without consulting the manual for it, and didn't really know how it worked.

Because I had - also accidentally - somehow set the Olympus to give me a one-line of description on-screen for each mode, I suddenly had a notion of how to use 'panorama', so I gave it a shot - or two.

I am sure you already know this, but all you do is point the lense at one side of the landscape and keep your finger down on the shutter button.  It takes one image, and you simply move the camera across until a little 'cross-hair gunsight' thing appears on the screen, and when it knows that the edge of the last image has been reached, it releases the shutter again - and so on, for 360 degrees if required.

It later seamlessly stitches all the images together using some sort of digital magic, and you would not know that the finished result is a mosaic.  The above photo is a composite of two frames, stitched together inside the camera.  I would have shot more, but it started pissing down with rain, so I got back into the car.  I remember seeing both frames wobbling about in the viewfinder and when the second image was taken, I know that the difference in the two skyline height levels amounted - in real terms - to about 150 feet.  Magic.

Some features work better than others.  There is also a setting called 'beauty' and it says that it enhances the appeal of a portrait shot by softening the features of the sitter and bringing out the best in him/her.  Having taken a couple of shots of myself using this feature, I can tell you that it doesn't work.

I was expecting to see George Clooney when I reviewed the images, but all I saw was me.

If I were to seriously get into photography, then I could not bring myself to buy anything but the best, which would mean an outlay of at least £3000 - about the same as a cheap, second-hand Rolex, but at least it would only be once...  wouldn't it?


11 comments:

  1. I've got the same camera as you Tom, I remember you writing about it previously. It's interesting to start fiddling with the controls, yes? I always had film Olympic SLRs and so the digital jargon threw me at first and sadly, the images are never as good as film. I think I wrote recently on my blog that it is like comparing Bob Marley on vinyl to a CD - something of the texture, light and roughness is lost.
    Anyhooo, it is a lovely photo Tom. Just gorgeous.

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    1. Oh you have that camera too? Your results are much better than mine, but I suppose you have a much more dramatic landscape. I have an Olympus SLR too, and that never came off the 'auto' setting either! I sort of know what you mean about Vinyl versus Digital, but I can not be bothered with it these days, anymore than I can be bothered to develop my own celluloid. Thanks for your kind words.

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  2. I am always disappointed that my photographs never quite seem to capture the beauty or atmosphere of what I see with the naked eye.

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    1. I know what you mean, but prolonged exposure of a dark, starry, night sky makes it even better - in one way - even before you start digital overlays.

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  3. Stanley Spencer would have enjoyed painting that landscape.... I'll stick with my £60 Fujifilm camera. It has on and off, and snap and movie. Brilliant.

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  4. It seems everyone has a camera in their phone these days and soon only true photographers will bother with actual cameras. Which is silly because a phone will never be able to take the kind of quality images that only a camera can. Nice work on the panorama!

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  5. Nice photo. I don't know if my digital camera has a panorama option; sadly, my camera got dropped last night and needs to be fixed. it's still under warranty, so i'm hoping for the best. I prefer my film camera, but the digital is a point and shoot type, so it's terribly convenient.

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  6. No Tom. Here is the voice of reason. Do not go there.

    Nice photo though.

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    1. Advice taken - from all of you above too.

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  7. No, I haven't ever used the panorama shot...yours is just beautiful!! Sometimes the best discoveries are by mistake!!

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    1. I had a little help from Mother Nature, though.

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