Digital Photography - Photography Hints and Tips From The H2G2 Photographers

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Digital Photography.*

It has never been easier to create fabulous images. Free from the dark art of developing and printing your own work, to avoid the often disappointing results from film labs. No more long waits to see your work, and no more long experimental sessions in the darkroom to get the image just right, or the way you intended, which was not always the same thing! And once you have a digital camera, a PC or laptop and a decent photo editing software, it is free. Well, almost.


Welcome to hints and tips on all aspects of photography, including Taking Photos- nature, weddings, parties, sports events.
Storage whilst traveling - packing for flights, local weather, filters and effects, advice on uses, - display and shows - how to show your work.
Photo clubs - online or offline are they worth joining.

One thing that has become clear as this entry has developed, is safe storage is an important issue. It seems that photographers are less concerned with digital media than during the film era, often placing it in the hands of others to store online. Is it the huge volume we produce or the fact its so inexpensive to produce that we become more careless, putting so many images in one place? Safe storage as the photographic print is becomes less commonplace. Photographers may find storage becoming a big issue in the future.

Few photographers will openly admit it, but there is a real pleasure, even pride, in sharing photographs with others, especially exhibiting in a gallery, photographic club or online. Exhibiting photographs is so much easier today, now there are online storage facilities. People from around the world can now share and enjoy the work of other photographers. Putting photographs online is a good way to get feedback, whether positive or negative, often with tips enabling an improvement in technique or developing new skills.

The only thing that may be lacking is experience! The purpose of this collective entry, from a wide variety of photographers, is to guide and assist everyone in the quest for the perfect image. Hopefully provides some help, happy photography.

Choosing and Buying Your Camera

Browse your favoured photographic/electronic websites late at night, as mega deals can often be posted with 50-75% off. Useful or memory cards, filters, etc.

Buying DSLR Lenses. Heard the one about the lazy man's screwdriver? It's called a hammer. Remember camera lenses are designed for a specific purpose, so use it for that purpose and you shouldn't be disappointed. Corners can be cut, using extension tubes and suchlike, but unless you know the rules, such as stopping down, slowing shutter speed etc. DON'T.

Now you have bought it insure it. Might seem obvious, but often gets overlooked. Get a separate insurance cover or do not assumed it is covered by your household insurance make sure. Check also what is covered, and also it's replacement value. It is surprising how quickly the value of the equipment mounts. And check your insurer covers it for all eventualities with no, or minimal, penalties. This researcher mislaid his kit and was amazed that it topped £2,000. The insurance limit was £2,000. Also ensure a claim is paid in cash. You don't want your 4 year old camera replacing with a four year old camera, do you. Especially when you've cherished yours by following all these tips and it's almost as good as new, whereas the replacement looks like it's just come off the pitch at Twickenham after an England-France match. Most of all, cherish and respect your equipment, whatever it may be, from your cleaning cloth, to your camera body, to your loved £1,500 telephoto zoom lens, and it will give you years of pleasure and fun, ad great memories to look back on in the future.

Make your camera and gear personal. Don't let it out of your sight. Wrap the strap around your leg in cafés or restaurants, carry it on your chest on public transport, take it as hand luggage when flying. Keep it close to you at all times. It only takes an instant for someone to steal it. The stories of cameras being left on car roofs, on fountains, park benches, café tables are legion.

Photography in Practise

Good Ideas And Habits

Never take only one picture. Always take at least 3 or more (easy to do nowadays with digital cameras) so you can later choose the best one. This is especially important if you take photos outside, on holidays, at a family party or whatever because they are not reproducible. It's different if you make a picture of, say, some kind of object at home where you can take the picture, look at it on the computer, make adjustments and take another picture and so on.

As well as taking several shots, if you can review them there and then, do so. When you're back home and find out that you've cropped the top or bottom off something it's not always as easy to go back and take another set of shots.
I've got a small netbook I can hook the camera into and quickly check the shots on.

If your camera has a fixed LCD display or you have difficulty using the eye-piece for low-level shots, try an angled eyepiece attachment. inexpensive, and great for older photographers, or those with bad backs or knees.

If you don't have the money for a macro lensIf you don't have the money for a macro lens, purchase magnifying lenses. X1, X2 and X3 should be adequate, but be aware you might need to f-stop down, and beware of vignetting.

When using a tripod in windy conditions, attach your camera bag to the base of the central section to provide stability. Carry a small allen key or equivalent. They are very useful for tightening tripod/monopod shoes onto cameras, especially if being carried over the shoulder. The cameras can have a tendency to loosen, especially over rough terrain.

Carry a large white piece of card and pegs, to obscure foliage, etc, and use as a backdrop when photographing individual flowers or equivalent.

In wet conditions put the camera in a clear plastic bag. Seal it around the lens with an elastic band.

To prevent glare on the LCD view display attach a business card, or equivalent to the hot shoe, by bluets, to overhang the display. Alternatively, take a piece of card, crease to the shape of the display and make a rectangular 'tube' sealing with tape. This will act like a Victorian photographer's cape to remove glare.

Tired of losing lens caps? Buy some thin elastic, and get a small awl or a hole punch. Make a hole in the lens cap. Feed the elastic through, then tie a knot and seal with superglue. Measure off around 6" (15cm) and make a loop that is just tight enough to go around the lens. Tie another knot and again seal with superglue. LET IT DRY. (Don't do like I did and put on the lens straight away. Glued to lens, but I managed to free it, but it had melted a small area on the lens. Thankfully purely cosmetic) No more lost lens caps. However, when using the camera, you may need to move the elastic, to prevent it appearing in the photograph, and hold the lens cap in windy conditions.

Purchase a multi spirit level that fits on the hot shoe. This saves having to straighten photographs later.

If you don't have a camera with wireless download facility consider looking at the range of new wireless SD Cards. According to the makers they make your camera wireless, so you can upload photos and videos to a computer. Sounds good no more fiddling with downloads.

If you take a lot of photographs, edit ruthlessly delete duplicates and out of focus and file on the PC by subject, year and month, file events such as holidays, weddings etc separately

If you are on a trip, note where you took your photos. A geo tag camera is useful, but a pen and notebook is just as good. You will find it very hard to remember where you took each shot. Its easy you just need to note the date and the places in order, the date tag on a digital image will do the rest. If edit delete don't forget to edit your notes.

Blind Shots - do not be afraid to take an occasional 'blind shot' holding the camera over your head and taking a picture of something you can not see yourself. Sometimes you will find a good shot, I remember one time I was going through my prints, found a great shot of Plymouth Harbour I did not remember taking. I then realized it had been a 'blind shot'.

Practice Good Photography. "Frame your shots"

Modern cameras with telephoto zooms, digital displays and built in rule of thirds grids try to make life as easy as possible for the amateur photographer. However clever your equipment, there is still the matter of composition. What you see in your minds eye may be slightly lacking when it comes to the final print.

Choose an interesting background (or none if you want all eyes on a single subject), foreground detail cleverly framed will lead your eye into the main shot. Try and avoid 'false projections' where something in the background appears to grow like antlers out of your subjects head!

However, sometimes negative space, where nothing interesting at all features, will show off your shot much better than a cluttered background. An old tree standing alone in a flat field for example.

Point Of View is equally important. A boring shot from eye level can be transformed by getting higher or lower that the subject. Vehicles and animals taken from ground level loom out of the shot, children shot from above appear innocent whilst the same child photographed from below looks a little more like the cheeky rascal they probably are!

Experiment, review your shots with an outsiders eyes and try the same shot from different point of view, you may be surprised at the results.

To maximise the quality of your photographs, and working on the assumption you are going to edit them later or, if you don't have software now, will be in the future, take photographs in both JPEG and Raw. Most good cameras will let you do this. JPEGs are good for uploading onto media sites and/or emails, while RAW is good for editing or printing, without losing quality.

Photographic Filters

Round Glass Filters The first one of these you should consider is a plain neutral UV filter; This will protect the lens from dust fingermarks and other damage. It is also easier and safer to clean than your cameras lens. A lens cap will fit on this filter so it will rarely have to come off. They also can produce polarizing, optical and colour effects to enhance your photographs. Perhaps the most useful is the graduated filter, that reduces the brightness of a sky or the glare from water or snow.

Square Plastic Filters* These have two advantages over the glass filter. The first is the cost, second some of these filters can be moved in front of the lens to create various effects. Particularly useful are the graduated filters, they have a strong tint at the top that fades to nothing at the bottom. Excellent for toning down bright skies or sunsets, or reducing glare from water or snow. Another useful filter is the polarizing filter, sunglasses for your lens on very bright days. It also reduces the adverse effects of reflected sunlight.

Camera Bag Ideas

For clarity a "CAMERA BAG" is a bag to carry cameras, lenses and equipment. A "CAMERA CASE" is a is a protective cover for a single camera.

Obtain a good quality camera bag. This could be a shoulder bag or a backpack. Shop around, try them out, chat to photographers and get one that suits your requirements. And get one that is adjustable. Maybe a daypack, a weekend pack, and an all-round pack, with plenty of storage. A waterproof cover is advisable.

Camera Bags Are Not Just For Cameras

Apart from the usual kit here's some strange things that often come in handy.
A couple of plastic bags, rainy and snowy scenes are great but protect that equipment! Also works for sand and sea spray.
A lump of blue tac or plasticine, forgotten your tripod, use this to stick the bottom of the camera to walls, bins, tree stumps etc, also handy for self timer shots! A pocket knife and some bits of thin wire, useful for getting unwanted items to stay out of shot.
A couple of pegs, useful for pinning down clothing etc to get the look you're after.

Pack a poncho or emergency cape in your bag. They take up little space, weigh nothing and are ideal on a day out when that sudden thunder burst or squall threatens. They protect your camera and are ideal groundsheets.

Save those bags of silica gel that are often thrown away and put in your bag. They are marvellous at drying kit out on a wet, or hot, humid day. Especially useful if going around a botanical greenhouse, in the winter, when the camera is cold and condensation hits with a vengeance which could damage your equipment if not dried off quickly. Bake them every so often to dry them out.

This seems strange but a good soft brush, similar to those used by women to apply makeup, are ideal for cleaning small areas of your camera, as are fine artist's brushes. Blutac is also good for more stubborn marks. ALWAYS pack your camera away. It is amazing how much dust can collect on a camera slung over a chair back over a weekend.

Things to keep in your camera bag. For cleaning tissues, wet wipes cotton buds. To keep things going spare batteries, film cards, small torch, and filters. For DSLR users your spare lenses.

On the bag front, a large carrier bag is very useful to sit/lie on, and also for lining your bag, if not using a camera bag.

Protect the rear LCD screen on your camera with an off the peg self adhesive shield. You can find them in good stores Fuji do a good range.

Travelling With Your Camera

Travelling Tips

If you travel by car don't leave your camera on the back seat so it can roll off when you apply the brakes. If you are going to stop occasionally to photograph the journey then shorten the shoulder strap and hang it from the headrest on the rear seats. If you must use the front seat is better to hang it on the back of the seat on a very short strap.

Camera Case.If the camera you choose does not come with a case, buy good one you will never regret it. Make sure you try it with the camera. It must be easy to lift the camera in and out, if it is too tight it will annoy you. It must be easy to use and provide good protection looks are secondary its not a fashion accessory, it's got a job to do. Besides giving protection they keep the camera clean, dry and keep the dust off.

No case! Use one for transportation, if necessary, but they are an encumbrance. They get in the way, or get left behind, or you fight with them to get your camera out and miss the shot.

ALWAYS carry a camera, even if it is just a compact or bridge. You are always ready for that opportunity.

Tired of carting a heavy tripod around? Invest in a wrap-around knobbly tripod that can wrap around poles, tree branches etc. Ensure you get the right size. One designed for a compact camera is no good for a DSLR with zoom lens and could prove very expensive.

Mobile Phones are improving all the time, but remember. Look at the size of the lens, compared to that of a camera, and remember it is plastic, not ground, polished precision glass. Even an inexpensive camera will take a better photograph than a phone. It is what it is designed for.

Air travel Beware! When travelling by air, these exact same items when X-rayed along with the electronic components of your kit will, trust me, look exactly like an explosive device on the security screen, pack them separately or leave them at home!

Wedding Photography

Planning A Wedding Photo Shoot

Apart from it being a great honour when asked to shoot someone's big day, it also comes with a lot of responsibility, if you ask yourself "am I ready for this?" Then if the answer is "no" you're not!

Spend time finding out what kind of wedding album the couple are looking for, a good idea is to show examples of your work or compare styles on the Internet.make notes on the 'must have' shots and plan these accordingly.

There are no second chances in wedding photography, admittedly the formal shots can be retaken or rearranged but even then every wedding is run to a strict schedule and if you miss a valuable moment or two whilst messing around with lenses etc, its gone forever...and you know exactly what shot the bride and groom are going to ask for in their album, don't you?

If you are taking shots at the bride's house and her departure in the wedding transport, make sure you know the way to the venue and can get there ahead of the bride to capture the arrival in plenty of time, not too bad if its a horse drawn carriage, a different matter if she's travelling in a Ferrari! All these details need to be planned well in advance.

Try to get access to the venue before the big day and test your equipment, make notes of lighting problems and interesting POV, failing to plan is a cardinal sin. A small step ladder is a useful tool for both group shots and getting something a little different. Don't be scared to experiment with backdrops and props but know your clients tastes first! Candid shots of the event usually gain some great images, but keep one eye on the bride and groom.

If the wedding is being filmed have a chat with the camera person and find out where the video cameras are to be positioned and then try your best to stay out of shot. Explain to the couple that you have liaised with the film people and are aware of the camera location(s). From personal experience, if the film camera is moved without warning there is little you can do if there's twenty odd frames of your back.

Another good tip I was given was to keep a point and click camera in your pocket, easily whipped out on the way between shots or whilst reloading, to capture that spontaneous moment that you may otherwise miss. Don't think that you ever have enough photos, take more than you need and avoid disappointment, you will probably find you simply do not have the time to review your shots on the day and you just may capture something brilliant in the background that you only notice when you have time to properly view and edit you work.

Take your time with editing too, keep cropped images as copies, this will give the client a choice in the finished album while you are learning. A happy client who feels involved and consulted is more likely to recommend you to others!

Finally and most obviously, please make sure you have enough memory cards or film, take a spare camera body if you have one, don't forget your batteries and spares....oh and take the lens cap off! Good luck.

The important point is that these are once in a lifetime shots. As we no longer use film (which was very expensive to buy and develop) There is no excuse to not take hundreds of photos!

Weddings The Important Traditional Shots

Remember if you are going to photograph a wedding there are a few dozen shots that have to be included! The "must haves" are the close up of the rings on fingers, cutting the cake, throwing of both bouquet and garter.
At the Wedding party, Parents of both Bride and Groom. Family shots, especially those who came from out of town. Find out who all the guests are, just by group - not individually, to help group shots. At our wedding, my wife and I both had co-workers from our jobs. There were family, neighbours, family friends and people we knew from other activities and even the venue's staff. We had about 300 total, but that was probably because we hired a local tourist attraction for the ceremony. (Also See Blind Shots Above.)

Always Be Open to New Ideas At Weddings

When at a wedding, try to take photos of the things that no-one else is photographing. Often the small details that the bride has agonised over, such as the right type of table confetti, flowers, favours etc, are forgotten.

I agree that the clients wishes should be taken into account regarding the must have shots, interestingly enough the last two I've done didn't want the rings close up or cutting the cake, they thought they were too traditional, so we went to the kids play area and messed around on the swings!

At my daughter's wedding, no pressure there then to get some good shots! I have learnt something new. A newfangled idea.. There's an iPhone app called wedpics, she asked everyone to download and put all the pics taken on phones etc, to the app site and viola instant photo album. that allows instant access for everyone around the world who could not make the venue! Still have a "proper" album but it'll be nice to see what everyone else snaps!

She also had FaceTime running so friends and family can watch the ceremony live.

Image Storage in Camera

  • A number of 2, 4 and 8Gb memory cards are better than a 32 or 64Gb card as they can fail. Instances of the sliding safety lock on the card breaking, so the photos can be downloaded, but the card is u/s is not uncommon. Or just failing.
  • Buy large memory cards but not too large as you have to find your images. Several smaller ones are more useful, buy several different cards from good makers so you can identify the contents.
  • Try and store on a separate HDD but file with care. It is unwise to only store on your PC it might malfunction.
  • Purchase the fastest card you can afford. There is nothing worse than having to wait for photographs to upload when you want to rattle of a number of shots at once.
  • There many types of portable hard drives that can assist you with your storage. The best prospect for problem free storage is one of the SSD or solid state hard drives. I use 2, One terabyte Verbatim 52023 plug and play HDD units with very satisfactory results.

Image Storage at Home

Image storage. What price a moment of forever? In the days of film we probably all started out meticulously filing our negatives, putting billions of prints in albums and, for those that way inclined, carefully slotting slides into fiddly holders. Later on most of those relics probably ended up crumpled up, tea stained or consigned to dusty boxes in the loft/ attic/ shed.

As photographers, we are now faced with a new dilemma, how to store thousands of digital images safely and securely. No more bits of paper and cellulose but something a lot trickier because you can't physically put them in a box in the loft!

Memory card full, first stop is usually taking up huge amounts of memory on your PC or laptop. Floppy discs, then CDRs, now external hard drives. Digital storage media has never been foolproof, or cheap.

As photographers, we are now faced with a new dilemma, how to store thousands of digital images safely and securely. No more bits of paper and cellulose but something a lot trickier because you can't physically put them in a box in the loft!

Name and tag your photographs,Name and tag your photographs as soon as possible, and upload to your preferred storage site, or viewing platform quickly. Do not delay. This researcher has 40,000 photographs to sort, tag, add location and upload onto Flickr.

Discs can get scratched or corrupted, sooner or later your computer will go into sulk mode when it gets full up and external storage has a habit of overheating and going bang. Bye bye all those photos you've spent blood sweat and tears obtaining.

Some websites offer free hosting, Flickr for example, gives you a huge space to upload images (either publicly or privately) these are great as a back up plan and there's no loss of resolution or image quality and size. Put photos on Facebook however and they are automatically resized to fit the site and if you need to download a copy the quality is appalling compared to the original. Shop around and see what suits your needs. Personally after several heartbreaking encounters with corrupted/damaged discs and several hard drives and computers that have gone up in smoke, sending thousands of photos into oblivion, I tend to opt for the belt, braces and stout bit of rope approach.

File the important stuff on disc, copy to hard drive, upload to a hosting site and pray that at least one moment of forever will survive the test of time, either that or get a bigger loft space and go back to paper!

I just transferred all my photos onto. DVD discs, then wrote on the disc all the details, year taken, and so on. And as for transferring my old slides onto the computer, I simply bought a "photo scanner" for £24.50 from ALDI a few years ago, you can also transfer your film negatives through that scanner as well. It's a great piece of kit.

On Line Galleries Photo and Storage Sites

As for uploading onto storage sites, there are plenty to choose from, and some, for a price, will give unlimited storage. Maybe select two or three. One for photographs just for personal use, a second for general photographs and a third for premium shots or portfolios.

  • 1.Flickr. Maybe open two or three albums or accounts? One for photographs just for personal use, a second for general photographs and a third for premium shots or portfolios.
  • 2.Google Panoranio. A good community plenty of feedback and all views noted so you can judge your abilities. Google Maps use your photos as google earth references, its nice to see your images pop up on the map. The full copyright of any image is retained by you the photographer. The other big plus is you meet people online, folks from around the world who chat about photography and their homeland.
  • 3.Google+ with a free allowance with a google account.
  • 4.Photobucket 2 GB of free space.
  • 5.Canon Iristawith a generous 10 GB of free space.

It is strongly recommended that you check the internet for sites of this kind, there is a wide choice and some offer extra facilities such as editing and album storage.

OTHER Camera Safety Tips

Safety and your camera

  • Don't point the camera at the sun it may damage your eyes and the camera.
  • When trying to get the best shot, look where you are going, pay attention to traffic or other vehicles, ditches. Don't fall into or fall over - curbs, fences, holes and other obstacles. Be aware of your surroundings.

Camera Safety Tips, discovered the hard way! Or If I could go back in time, what camera tips would I give myself?

    Do NOT use the cloth you clean your glasses with to clean your lenses. It will transfer grease onto the lens and it will be difficult to remove. Do not use tissues either. A certain Department Store, that also has it's own supermarket chain, sell micro-cloths in a small bag with a clip-attachment that can be fixed on your camera strap so it is always handy.

  • Have a number of charged batteries with you, especially in cold weather, when they can drain rapidly. Non-branded ones are usually as good as branded, but experience states not to go for the cheapest.
  • I have carried cameras when doing walks and bike rides, usually my SLR although it isn't always practical to cycle with such a large camera...
  • Don't swing a Kodak disc (or any other) camera around and around on the end of a strap, as it will break (mind you, it became obsolete pretty much instantly anyway - still, not the best point in my childhood).
  • Pay very close attention to the camera bag strap when climbing Arthur's Seat.
  • Don't take the D-SLR down that water ride see if the theme park has a locker instead.
  • I would also tell my granddad to double check he's taken the lens cap off. The number of photos he took of the inside of his lens cap...

Car Safety Camera

After I had a few "near misses" I bought one of the new Dash Cams with for the car. As all insurance companies seem to settle for a 50/50 result, even it's not your fault, so the footage can prove your innocence. It works a treat, stop folk pulling out in front of me, and cutting me up on roundabouts. The best is it stops drivers from coming up right close behind me, they see the camera, and back off thinking it's an unmarked police car. You can get one quite reasonably, that still gives you a full H/D 1080 picture, is a good investment.

Extreme Editing

Photo Manipulation or Post Shot Processing

Imagination is the only limit to post processing or photo manipulation.

There are three basic questions people ask about the likes of photoshop.

  • 1. The standard, can you make me look younger, thinner, taller.
  • 2. To the slightly more ambitious, Can you put me on stage with Ozzy Osbourne, or on the bridge of the Enterprise, or using a Creatinator.
  • 3. and finally, can you have me riding a snow tiger, naked with an umbrella, or can you make me a vampire sitting on an ancient tomb while wolves sit at my feet, to can you put him riding a pink horse leading a tortoise, holding a microphone with a my little pony.

I have a 12 M/Pixel camera, (that was the strongest one at the time I bought it). The first thing I noticed was, that on a PC I could zoom in and make what was, an average photo, into a really good one, by cropping it, after zooming in. I have even done that to some photos taken from old slides, taken way back in the 70s. I scanned them into the computer, and made them look a lot better. I was really amazed at just what could be done with them, considering that I'm not a photographer or a computer wizard.

Photo Manipulation Software

Is photo manipulation worth the effort. The short answer is yes with a little know how and many many hours of messing around with multiple photographs, you can achieve some great results, you are only limited by your imagination! Start with easy stuff like selective colouring, basically a black and white shot that has a splash of colour. Soon you will be creating solar systems, creating fractal tigers or putting donkeys in blue sheepskin sleeping bags! Good luck and set your mind free!

Start with a fairly basic programme to try out what these programmes are capable of. Windows Photo supplied with Windows 8 is very good at basic editing and colour manipulation but that's all. To advance to the next level you will need more advanced software. This programme you will have to pay for, they are all good, but some are easier to use than others, so choose carefully. Some well known Photo Manipulation Software is listed below.

  • 1.Windows 8, Has some very nice editing tools in photo viewer that are easy to use do try them you will be pleased you did.
  • 2.Photoshop There are also many plug ins and add ons available for photoshop , such as those from Redfield, AlienSkin and Topaz. Choose a system to suit your budget and the type of final images you are aiming to produce.
  • 3.Deviantart for brushes and loads of brilliant ideas and artwork. Also the often stunning tutorials on 10 steps deserve a mention, very good for beginners to learn some great effects.

There's also a surprising number of free apps that can give you a taste of photo manipulation whether its silly photo booth kids stuff or differing filter effects to try out on the likes of PicsArt. FWR

Trial/Free Photo Manipulation Software

There are many Photo Manipulation Software packages available that offer a trial version. Search the internet and you will find many excellent examples.

  • One example is Serif who offer a nice trial version of their Photo Plus editing software, once you get the hang of it its is very good. It is very straightforward and has various upgrades allowing you to achieve excellent results.
  • Special Camera Accessories

    Lens Adapter Rings

    SRB of Dunstable UK, deserve a mention as suppliers of Lens Adaptor* rings allowing the use of a another makers lens on your SLR or DSLR camera body. They will confirm all details before order by phone or e-mail. Eg yes you can use older 35mm Minolta SLR lenses on the new Digital X series Fuji cameras*.

    Flash Systems

    Hot Shoe Flash and other flash systems have to some extent been replaced by the pop up flash fitted on the new digital cameras. This inbuilt flash will cope with over 75% of all situations that need extra light. Now a hot shoe for a flash unit is only found on the more up market and professional camera. If you require a specialist flash unit for studio, experimental or close up work consult your dealer for advice no the best equipment for your needs.

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    Camera Clubs, Photo Societies, Branded Name Owners Clubs

    Camera Clubs, Photo Societies, Branded Name Owners Clubs, the list is endless when it comes to joining others with the same interests.

    Most towns, cities and villages will have a camera club of some description, advertised in the local papers or pinned to a community hall or library notice board.

    Once upon a time (and it may very well still be the case) most camera clubs welcomed newcomers with open arms and the propensity to bore the same newcomer to death with technical jargon or statistics about their latest bit of kit. Slide shows and talks by local pros and semi pros seemed to feature at least monthly, and the obligatory trudge to the local park/beach/hill was a weekly event. Clubbing together to hire a professional live model was the highlight of the year, especially for the more dubious members! Camera clubs sadly developed the same public distrust as train spotters!

    That said , there are some great clubs, ask around or simply pop in. Adult colleges, community centres and others often run evening classes in introductory photography or put on exhibitions, all with the hope of attracting new members to their associated clubs.

    With the advent of the Internet and digital photography, many small clubs now have a global audience to present their landscapes to and don't have to wait till the second Tuesday of every month to show off their work.

    With instant feedback and thousands of sites offering tuition and advice, the need and desire to actually attend a club has dwindled for the average snapper. There will always be clubs, there will always be photographers seeking dialogue with real life people, on the same beach or in the same village hall and long may they continue, but many many thousands now turn to the web.

    The choice of sites is in itself staggering, the content within those sites even more so. There are still the modern equivalents of brand name owners clubs, clubs or groups devoted to millions of aspects of photography.

    If your desire is to photograph wildlife there's a group out there.
    Are you specialising in photographing ice cream? Well there's a group for you too! Everything from sports shots to pictures of the various English post boxes, from American choppers to Australian shoe shops but a word of warning to parents of younger photographers, please make sure you have a safety filter applied, as even the most reputable sites may have adult content.

    There are also pay to join Societies, professional Organisations and competition Groups for all types of photographer or digital artist. Enter your funny cat pic at the local Village Hall fete or upload the shot to the World Photography Organisation annual awards? As photographers we are truly spoilt for choice and can find inspiration, advice and appreciation 24/7 from our global peers.

    So if you feel the need to escape to a Scout Hut every other Tuesday and sit through Colin's slide shows, that's great , no sugar in mine please.....but from the comfort of your own living room you can probably find his stuff on line and the coffees better!

    Another point is subscribe to a Camera magazine. These have always been there, like Practical Photographer that I remember from my youth. Flicking through, when on my paper round, in the hope there was an article on Glamour Photographer.
    (come on, I was 14!)

    Now there are loads of magazines. Some are general, some specific, even to camera-specific. They often include DVDs giving training on articles, as well as photoshop tips etc. An annual subscription is often is enough as, after that, they tend to duplicate the information.

    Also on-line courses to help out, often at discounted prices. Bought one, reduced from £499 to £19, for 42 courses. For life.

    There are also weekend courses, or evening courses that are, again, often specialised. For beginners, intermediates, night shoots, landscape, portrait, glamour etc.

    As an aside, it can be useful to speak to other photographers when out. While out photographing mushrooms, my girlfriend got in conversation with a fellow photographer, with the same brand of camera, and learnt a great deal about macro photography in half an hour.

    With grateful thanks for contributing their knowledge, ideas and experience to :-

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