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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sierra Light With A Compact

James Kay had to ditch his DSLR in favor of a basic point-and-shoot for a recent ultralight hiking trip. The small camera gave him a sense of creative freedom, and knowing how to work within the camera’s limitations, he brought back a stunning portfolio.

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Kay used the point-and-shoot for small details, as well as expansive compositions. The camera gave him a sense of creative freedom. This is the view south from the summit of Split Mountain, Kings Canyon National Park, California.
Working Around Point-And-Shoot Limitations
Compared with RAW capture with a DSLR, there are a few technical considerations to keep in mind once that tiny memory card is full and you begin to transfer the files to your hard drive. Most importantly, most point-and-shoot cameras record only in JPEG format, which is a lossy compression format. To avoid degradation of your photos, when you first open the JPEG file in Lightroom, Aperture or whatever image-processing software you use, make your adjustments and then save the file as a TIFF, PSD, DNG or other lossless format.

You also may need to spend a little more time adjusting the images with your editing software. While these cameras do an excellent job of evaluating lighting conditions to produce a well-exposed image in moderate-contrast situations, they have a hard time dealing with a high-contrast scene such as a shadowed foreground with a bright background. In these situations, the camera's light meter will use an average reading, which can cause the highlights to overexpose. Check for this when you open the files in Photoshop and apply local corrections, if necessary, using adjustment layers. Then save the file as a PSD.

Most basic point-and-shoots also don't allow you to control the f-stop, so if you're shooting a subject where you need a lot of depth of field, choose the setting with that little icon showing a person in the foreground with a mountain behind. This is usually the default setting and will provide the most depth of focus.

Many of these point-and-shoots will let you choose between Program mode and Auto mode. Auto does a very good job of determining exposure, white balance and ISO, but if you want more control over these settings, use Program mode to adjust them manually. And, lastly, as with your DSLR, choose the camera settings that use the least amount of file compression and the highest number of recording pixels to get the optimum file with as much pixel data as possible.

Considering their small size, these cameras do a remarkable job. What would William Henry Jackson think? So, the next time you're out in the field, setting up a shot with your 36-megapixel super-sensor and you see a geek standing there with his dinky little point-and-shoot, don't just look down your nose at him, come over and introduce yourself!

To see more of James Kay's photography and sign up for his workshops, visit www.jameskay.com.


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