Sunday, May 13, 2007


Sarah Watching TV

Sarah Watching TV
Originally uploaded by kristopherjohnson.

Why do people buy expensive cameras? Look at this picture.

This is the kind of picture that can't be taken with a simple point-and-shoot camera. The picture is lit only by a television and a couple of incandescent lights in the room, providing interesting colors and highlights. Cheap cameras can't take non-flash pictures with so little available light. If you were to use a flash here, her face would just be washed out and featureless.

This picture was taken with a "fast" lens, meaning a lens that lets in a lot of light. It's called "fast" because it means you can use a faster shutter speed, leading to a sharper picture for whatever level of light you have. But sometimes you don't want a fast lens; you may want a wide-angle lens, or a telephoto lens, or something else that is optimal for the shot. A camera with interchangeable lenses gives one the flexibility to choose the right lens for a particular shot, rather than being stuck with a single one-size-fits-all lens.

Even with this fast lens, I had to use a shutter speed of 1/3 second, which is pretty long. It helped that my niece was mesmerized by High School Musical, and was therefore motionless.

Note how her face and head are in focus, but the background is blurred, causing her face to pop out against it. This is known as "shallow depth of field," and is another trick that an inexpensive camera can't perform. A shallow depth of field requires a longer lens than the pocket-size cameras have. If this photo was taken with a small camera, the subject wouldn't "pop." Some small-camera afficionados fake this effect by using Photoshop to blur out the backgrounds, but as with most things, natural is better than fake.

Of course, an expensive camera can't make you a good photographer. If you're lucky, you'll have nieces pretty enough to make up for your lack of skill.

Great pics... she's adorable!
Great picture, Kris. Of course, I'm a little biased about the subject! I never get pictures like this with my camera (and my lack of skill at photography).

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