Monday, 30 March 2009

Taking it a little more seriously: part I

It's been about five months since my camera arrived, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28. For years I've been thinking about taking up photography but simply never got around to it. My father was a keen amateur photographer and I wanted to follow in his footsteps but simply never had the time or money to do it. Late last year though I decided to take the first steps.

I bought the camera based on 1) the excellent reviews it had been getting, 2) it had most of the features a DSLR had and 3) I found one for just over $200! This would be a good way to learn about photography and not be too worried about spending lots of money on something I might not enjoy in the end. Still, when the camera arrived the manual scared the life out of me. Just how many settings could you put in a relatively cheap camera? This was going to take years to learn, especially if I was going to rely on self-teaching...

Slowly I learned the settings, but what really changed things was a late Christmas gift in February: two of Scott Kelby's books, The Digital Photography Book 1 & 2. I cannot recommend these books highly enough to anyone in the same position as me, a learner photography duffer. Within a week or two I actually understood how to use the camera properly, although there are still one or two things that mystify me!

Since then I've bought "Landscape Photography" by Tim Fitzharris (I just happened to find it in borders and it looked interesting) and have ordered "The Moment it Clicks" by Joe McNally. The latter comes highly recommended by Scott Kelby himself, the former has some of the most stunning landscape photos I've seen complete with tips on how to recreate those images yourself. My only complaint about Fitzharris' book is that his wording sometimes confuses me - he's clearly an artist and I'm not, so, for instance, I don't know how to translate "develop a scene", it means nothing to me. It's a superb book though and I'm definitely learning from it and it's worth the money for the pictures alone.

So, now I've gone as far as buying accessories, so I must be taking things up to the next level (which is several levels below even a good amateur photographer, but we all have to start somewhere). Unfortunately the FZ28 has an unusual lense size although I managed to find a circular polarizer and one or two other filters in a local store. For any photographer on the Hilo side of the island, visit Phototronics on Keawe Street in Hilo (opposite the now-closed KTA supermarket in downtown Hilo). A very "local" store with some photography equipment for sale that might surprise you. You can also pick up some ammo if you happen to be running short or some Elton John sunglasses. The owner is a great guy, so pop in and support a local business!

More to come...

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