12 Jun 2008

Why you should always carry a camera

Do you always have a camera with you to capture those unexpected pictures?

If you rely totally on your bulky SLR system then almost certainly you will not want to carry it about with you all the time – I certainly don't.

However, since I discovered the Canon Ixus some years ago, I am never without a little compact camera.

This has been a revelation for me.

Of course these little cameras have many limitations, but they do enable you to grab those unexpected shots whenever they present themselves.

I'm still using a Canon Ixus 700; its dented and worn case is proof of the amount of work and travelling it has done over the last couple of years or so.

But its lens is spotless and the results are always good – if I work within the limitations of a compact camera.

At 7.1 megapixels I can produce a 10 inch wide 300dpi image, and this far exceeds the needs of many newspapers and magazines when I have a picture to sell.

I also use a Canon G9 which is bulkier and heavier – just a bit too bulky to put in a case and attach unobtrusively to my belt.

Yes, I know, if you have been reading this blog for a while you'll know there are things about this camera that I find far less than perfect – but it is versatile and the quality is excellent.

Anyway, carrying my Ixus 700 paid off yet again yesterday when, loaded with shopping bags, I was returning to the boat in the marina.

I noticed an engineer sitting in a bosun's chair and working at the top of a yacht's mast.

Above him the sky was almost jet black and very ominous – he looked so lonely and vulnerable up there beneath that sky that I just had to take a photograph, and I had the means readily to hand – my little Canon Ixus.

All I had to do was put down my bags and reach for the camera at my hip.

Seconds after pressing the button, my subjects came down the mast like a monkey on a string.

I almost always keep the camera set to the 'M' (Manual) mode – this is not really a proper manual mode on the Ixus, but does give a little control.

I try to keep the ISO set to 50 for top quality, and the exposure compensation set to Minus 1/3.

I find that Canon tend to over-expose a tad, and this stops the highlights burning out too much.

Of course, in theory when shooting a subject like this man against a bright sky, I should have set the exposure compensation to the PLUS side. In order not to under-expose.

But in this case that black cloud seems to have helped balance the exposure and retain some detail and colour in the man.

Normally he would have appeared as a silhouette.

So, if you want to capture those fleeting moments that occur when you least expect them, keep a camera on your hip for a quick draw.


Anonymous said...

Just goes to show what you can do with a small compact and keeping your eyes open.

The camera in the wardrobe back at home would not have been a lot of use!

Was there just a touch or two of the 'burn' tool across the top?

South West Scotland

Philip said...

Yes Alwyn, but ony a the lightest of touches to darken the shadows. That sky really was a nasty black one.
As you quite rightly point out, even is you do carry a camera everywhere, it's not much use unless you keep your eyes open.