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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tame Your Dynamic Range

HDR Au Naturel • Hybrid Lenses • Pros And Point-And-Shoots

Labels: How-ToColumnTech Tips
I use Kathy’s compact cameras for a variety of photographic tasks. They’re handy for family functions; I’ll take a series of JPEGs that are processed in the camera, and it’s easy to edit them and make up a collage print or a CD for the people who were present. I’ve taken a compact camera with me to trade shows to document new products, and the quality is more than adequate for inclusion in my lectures. Sometimes I let Kathy borrow her cameras to take pictures of me taking pictures, so I can put them in my programs to demonstrate setups. You could easily take one of these cameras on a vacation and create a slideshow every bit as good as one produced on a professional camera system.

The SX1 IS has a zoom equivalent to 28-560mm, as well as full high-definition video. Yesterday, I used it to video the neighbor’s barking dogs in case I need documentation sometime. (It captures good sound, too.) When a bear or fox comes into the yard, this little camera is the perfect tool for immediate documentation; their visits seldom last long enough to do a full setup with a 21 MP camera and a 500mm lens. I use the G11 to capture ultra-high-res composites with the Gigapan robot (see our article “The Gigascape” in the November 2009 issue of OP). In the October 2009 “Tech Tips” column, I wrote about Canon’s great little underwater model, the PowerShot D10. And, in fact, some of the newest high-quality compact cameras produce professional-level images of sufficient quality that they can be sold through my stock agencies, Getty and Corbis.

I’m fully aware that some of my colleagues have taken their compact cameras to a much more developed level of creative use. When I hear about their escapades with little cameras, I think that it must feel like running naked through the grass, with no backpack, no tripod, no encumbrances. It frees your creative spirit. They take long exposures out the car window (the drive-by), swing them around over their heads, run along railroad tracks. You might recall that Dewitt Jones gave us a great essay on the subject in his “Basic Jones” column in October 2007. You can read the column and see some video and amazing point-and-shoot images by Jack Davis at www.adventuresinphotoshop.com/Basic_Jones/Basic_Jones/Too_Much_Fun.html. Dewitt tells me he makes large (40x40) prints of images captured with small cameras or his iPhone. The key is to be artistic, not literal. To be printed that big, the images need to be mega-processed (I’ll say manipulated) with creative effects software like Topaz (www.topazlabs.com).

So there you have the short answer (yes) and the long answer (yes) to your question. I use compact cameras all the time. But I’m a pro with lots of Big Boy, serious cameras, so those cute little amateur point-and-shoots aren’t really mine. They’re Kathy’s.

For information about upcoming seminars and digital-imaging workshops, visit www.georgelepp.com. If you have any tips or questions, address them to: OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER, Dept. TT, George Lepp, 12121 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025-1176 or online at www.georgelepp.com.


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