May 11, 2009

How Many Megapixels Do I Really Need ?

Now that digital cameras have been around for a while, most people either already own one or have at least used one. For the most part, they work exactly the same as the cameras you were used to shooting with before, but in a different format. They capture your images on digital media (a memory card) instead of film.
With so many different cameras to choose from and only so many different features, what are the manufacturers going to do in order to sell you new models? What they do is try to push megapixels on you as a way to purchase their particular brand of camera. The average consumer has been trained to think that they need super-megapixel cameras to take great shots and that is just not entirely true.
Here is what megapixels really mean: how large can you print your final photographs. The truth is that most consumers go to a local kiosk in a nearby mall or camera shop and only print regular 4 x 6 photo’s or maybe an occasional 8 x 10 in. print, and with a 5 megapixel camera you can actually print up to 11 x 14 inches.
Actually the 10 – 12 megapixel cameras are great, but just a few years ago they were usually just for pros or semi-pros who needed to print larger prints like a 16 x 20 in. or maybe a 24 x 36 inch.

If you’d like to do some after the shot editing in your favorite photo software program, the extra megapixels allow you to zoom in really close to edit small sections of your photos with more detail and also allow you to crop to another size and still keep a printable image.
Just remember, unless you are specifically using your images only on the web, try to always shoot at the maximum resolution. Why have a 10 megapixel camera if you’re only going to shoot at 3 megapixels? You are actually throwing away valuable digital information. You can always make a smaller print, but it doesn’t work the other way around without manipulating pixels or special software!
I hope this information has helped you. Remember, keep shooting and have some fun!

May 4, 2009

Great Photography Books To Help You Take Better Photos

If you are just getting started in digital photography or just want to start taking better photos, then there are some books that I would highly recommend to help you to start taking great photos.
As you probably know already, there are tons of books on the market and picking one to cover all the basics in a plain, easy to read format can get confusing. If a friend asked me to suggest a few good books to read, I would recommend the following three. My first two choices would be a pair of books written by Scott Kelby and the third book would be one written by Bryan Peterson.

The Digital Photography Book and The Digital Photography Book Volume 2 by Scott Kelby are both enjoyable reading and full of useful tips and techniques. These books do a great job of getting you started in digital photography. In the first book (Volume #1) he covers a lot of the basics in good detail without getting too technical and even adds some tips on sharpening and printing your images. He has entire chapters written about shooting sports, people, weddings, landscapes and wraps up the book with a chapter called “Photo Recipes” with tips on what to do to get the shot.

In Volume 2 he actually picks up where he left off in the first book, and gives you tips on using flash, building a studio and shooting more professional portraits. Plus he has entire chapters devoted to shooting travel, landscape, macro photography just to name a few. He gives us tons of useful tips on how to take better photos. He even includes another chapter in this book on “Photo Recipes”. Both books are full of tips and techniques and loaded with photos and examples, which I will guarantee to help you take better photos. There is actually a Volume 3 in the works, which should be out very soon and I will definitely pick that up when it reaches the stores. Scott Kelby is the author of many excellent books on photography and Photoshop, all in an easy to read, friendly style all his own. If you ever have a chance to attended one of his all day Photoshop seminars I would recommend that also. Scott is also the president of the NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals), which I have personally been a member of for a number of years. Joining NAPP entitles you to a yearly subscription to Photoshop User magazine, open access to Photoshop TV and tons of members perks and discounts. You can click on the banner at the bottom of this page to join or to just find out more about it.Link
The third book is one I would highly recommend and is probably the most important book I’ve ever read on photography, it is called Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. This book is a little more technical, and the author gets into details on aperture, shutter speeds and shooting in manual mode on your SLR camera. He also includes a lot of tips to help you get more creative in your photography. This book I consider a must read for anyone who wants to get the most out of his camera. I refer back to this book over and over and recommend it highly. I purchased this book and a training DVD and utilize them both often. Bryan, in addition to being a great photographer, is also the founder of The Perfect Picture School of Photography. It’s an online school that offers a wide choice of classes taught by excellent instructors. Click on the box on the side of this page and you will find all of these books and more.
I hope you have a chance to pick up these books. I will guarantee they will help you start to take photos you can be proud of. Remember, keep shooting and last but not least, have some fun!
© D. Gould Photography