I am sometimes asked:
"What camera do you use?"
I understand why people ask this as it's a normal response when you see a photograph you like, you wonder about the technology behind it. Maybe so you can have a piece of that for yourself, or maybe you're even thinking about upgrading your camera.
Well, I can tell you this right here and now: if you're thinking of "upgrading" your camera, you'd have no interest in my 2004 photographic technology ;). Yes, I use a camera from 2004.
I wrote about my camera a few months ago and I am constantly surprised when people think I must use a more professional camera - or a DSLR for those of you who can talk the talk. I remember seeing it in the shop (second hand, by the way) and I couldn't take my eyes off it. I'd wanted to buy a more expensive DSLR camera for a while (in the Canon EOS range), but this seemed to fit my needs better at the time. It was hundreds of pounds cheaper, for a start.
What I learned quickly are a few things in order to get a good photograph from any camera:
1. Always have good photo editing software you feel comfortable using. Get to know the controls and the short cuts. I used to use Picnik for editing my photos and it was honestly as good as any software out there - I can spot when someone has used Picnik to edit their photos a mile off. I downloaded a Picasa program so I could edit my photos off-line and it has an option which will take you to the Picnik site. I could probably still get by on this software, but I found it very limiting so I decided to bite the bullet and try a little something from Adobe called Lightroom. I downloaded a trial version, which took me up to 30 days of use. For some reason my trial ran out and I was able to update to a better version of Lightroom so I had another 30 days on my trial. I love to test everything before I buy it and at first I didn't like Lightroom. It wasn't hard to figure out, but I didn't like the "export" option, which basically meant "save." The reason they have this export option is that Lightroom won't write over your original photo. When you get the hang of it, it's really great. I paid £145 for a download version of Lightroom and I don't regret it for a single second (it was B's Christmas gift to me and it's money well spent and invested.)
2. Always, always use natural light whenever, wherever you can. I notice a huge difference in the way people react to my natural lighted photos than to my flash photography photos. With the above software there are editing tricks you can pull to give you natural light, but it doesn't really give off the same effects.
I'll show you an example of a photograph shot in natural light:
Now here's one I took a little after 4pm today, when it was dark as midnight outside:
I haven't edited the photos so that you can see the differences in the quality of photo you're likely to get using the different methods. I always, always find that natural light is the way to go and only use a flash when I have too.
You don't need to spend hundreds on a great camera - although if you really want and can afford to, don't let me stop you. I paid £150 for my camera and that was considered cheap for the model I bought. Given that it's from 2004 and I remember back in 2004 it was around the £700 mark, it shows me that when it comes to technology that prices are fleeting and if you apply the above simple and easy principles - investing in good software and taking advantage of nature - then you're probably going to save a packet.