Mastering light first a smart move

YES, size does matter in photography but before you get too excited about how big your megapixels and optical zooms are, it’s smart to think about the destination first.

Friends, family and colleagues often ask me to recommend cameras for them but before I answer, I  usually ask what he/she wants to do with their images.

There’s no point spending $900 on a Canon 60D Digital SLR with its 18MP sensor when the photos will go no further than social media where web size images at 1024 x 768 pixels and 72dpi will suffice.

A Smartphone camera such as the 8MP iPhone 5 with its f2.4 aperture is more than adequate for web use and small prints up to 4″x 6″.

When used by someone with a keen eye for unique subjects, composition and lighting, Smartphones can produce good images. As technology improves, the colour and sharpness of Smartphone photos will get better.

Smartphone cameras shouldn’t be discounted as legitimate cameras – my Instagram profile photo is a selfie taken with an iPhone 5 in natural light and no Photoshop tweaking. Check out Digital Photography School’s tips on how to take better Smartphone photos.

So, if you simply want an entry-level camera without spending hard-earned cash before knowing what you want from a camera, and if you own a Smartphone, then I suggest using it to brush up on composition and natural lighting techniques before shopping for another camera. You won’t spend a cent over your normal phone service costs (unless you print the images) and you’ll gain valuable skills in the process.

If you want bigger prints, to create photo books or have your images on canvas or acrylic wall hangings, then you will need a camera with more grunt.

Compact cameras will handle prints up to about A4 but for mid-size prints at least an entry level SLR such as the Canon EOS 60D would be a better option. To successfully print canvasses and poster or billboard size prints, or to sell to magazines, a professional SLR camera is needed.

With compact cameras, there are some fantastic models on the market now. Industry talk is that as technology continues to advance, these cameras (and Smartphones) will take over from the current entry level SLRs while the high-end professional cameras will also continue to advance.

I have two compact cameras – Panasonic Lumix TZ40 and Nikon Coolpix P330. (Later Nikon Coolpix models are now on the market.) Both cameras are fantastic for family outings or dinner parties when I don’t want to lug my big camera around, or if I don’t need large prints or wall hangings.

Of my two compacts, my favourite is the Lumix TZ40, except it doesn’t do RAW which allows for ultimate post-processing control. The Nikon Coolpix P330 does RAW but for people who aren’t into post-processing with software such as Photoshop, RAW isn’t necessary.

The Lumix TZ40 is billed as an ideal travel camera. I bought an earlier model for an overseas trip in 2012, leaving my Canon EOS 5D Mark II at home and found the experience liberating.

The compact camera did most things I wanted and as I wasn’t planning to use the images any larger than needed for an A4 photo book, I found it better to travel light. Unfortunately I lost that camera at the Arbi Darbi airport on the journey’s home leg, but thankfully it was the compact camera and not my Canon EOS 5D Mark II!

To compare the key features of the Lumix and Coolpix:
• Panasonic Lumix TZ40 ($330) – 18.1MP; f/3.3-6.4; 20x optical zoom lens (24-480mm 35mm equivalent), providing wide angle and telephoto shooting options.
• Nikon Coolpix P600 ($498) –16.1MP, f/3.3-6.5; 60x wide optical zoom (24-1440mm 35mm equivalent), providing wide angle and telephoto shooting options.

When it comes to brands, my personal cameras are mostly Canon and while I don’t mind indulging in friendly banter with my Nikon friends on what brand is better, the reality is both Canon and Nikon are excellent brands, as are many others.

My workhorse is the Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS USM lens. I have other lenses too but this is my favourite all-rounder.

However, without a good working knowledge of composition and light, don’t waste money on a professional SLR camera – the tool itself won’t make you a better photographer. It’s what you do with the tool that counts!

There are plenty of free tutorials online, such as Digital Photography School, from which to learn.

To quote Matt Hardy: “Beauty can be seen in all things. Seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph.”

Another favourite quote from an unknown author is: “Amateurs worry about equipment, professionals worry about money, masters worry about light.”

PHOTO: Jocelyn on the job at USQ Fraser Coast, by Toni McRae.

Related Images:

Maryborough hub a hit with kids, parents and writers

Malcolm and Bronwyn Hoad (right) of Maryborough talk with Fraser Coast authors Lincoln Bertoli and Linda Downing at the USQ Creative Writing on Country launch.

Malcolm and Bronwyn Hoad (right) chat with authors Lincoln Bertoli and Linda Downing.

Cunningham brothers Bradley, 5, and Hayden, 3, enjoy snow cones at USQ’s Come and See Day in Maryborough.

Cunningham brothers Bradley, 5, and Hayden, 3, enjoy snow cones at the Come and See Day.

KNOWING they now have access to higher education opportunities in their own backyard was a source of excitement for visitors at University of Southern Queensland’s new study hub in Maryborough on July 5 and 6, 2014.

USQ Fraser Coast Executive Manager Brett Langabeer said the University’s Come and See Day on Saturday and Creative Writing on Country launch on Sunday provided local people with first-hand opportunities to see and experience what the new study centre offers.

“Collectively we had almost 100 people visit the newly renovated Maryborough Educational Hub,” Mr Langabeer said.

“It was encouraging  to see the excitement and how engaged the visitors were knowing they can now take their first steps into higher education with the fee-free Tertiary Preparation Program (TPP) and Head Start course on their doorstep.”

Mr Langabeer the USQ Come and See Day was a great first event to be held at the new study centre.

Parents used the opportunity to look at the learning space and talk with staff about the programs and support on offer.

“Students who have already enrolled in TPP and Head Start, as well as many who have not yet decided they will study, came to look at the learning space and talk with staff.”

Mr Langabeer said the Creative Writing on Country workshop launch on Sunday during the Mary Poppins Festival generated a lot of interest from literary enthusiasts from throughout the Fraser Coast and Bundaberg regions.

“This inaugural event exemplified what USQ does in terms of generating and developing innovation and creativity.

“I applaud the thinking behind the Blue Sky Thinking team that developed the concept. It really aligns with what we do at USQ in terms of developing new ideas for community engagement.”


Feature photo: Malcolm and Bronwyn Hoad of Maryborough talk with Fraser Coast authors Lincoln Bertoli and Linda Downing at the USQ Creative Writing on Country workshop launch on Sunday.



NAIDOC recognition for USQ

UNIVERSITY of Southern Queensland’s contribution to the Fraser Coast Indigenous community and culture has been recognised in this year’s NAIDOC Week Awards announced yesterday (July 7) at the Flag Raising Ceremony in Hervey Bay.

USQ Fraser Coast won the Business/Organisation Award, which recognises a business or organisation whose values embrace cultural differences, promoting best practices that offer inclusion to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas congratulated USQ Fraser Coast on winning the prestigious award.

“Congratulations to all who contributed to making that award possible; it’s a great achievement,” Professor Thomas said.

USQ Fraser Coast Student Dimity Shillingsworth was also rewarded with the Female Young Leader Award, whichrecognises a young person who has excelled through leadership, culture, music, art, employment, education and/or training, environment and politics.

Campus Executive Manager Brett Langabeer said it was a real honour for USQ Fraser Coast to be recognised for its work with the local Indigenous community.

“Receiving that award on behalf of USQ yesterday was an honour and privilege,” Mr Langabeer said.

“The award reflects the relationship and engagement USQ has with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that it serves.

“We are particularly proud of our Indigenous students including Ms Shillingsworth who received her youth leadership award.

“USQ’s work in the Indigenous community speaks for itself, especially where the Vice Chancellor set up the USQ Elders and Valued Persons Advisory Board (EVPAB), and also the Buallum Jarl-Bah Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Committee (BATEC).

BATEC is an advisory group made up of Butchulla Elders, community members and USQ personnel that promotes education to local Indigenous people. It also encourages and supports participation and retention programs as well as aspiration pathways within the Indigenous community.

Mr Langabeer said a recent example of USQ working with community organisations and groups was the creation of a new position – Indigenous Community Engagement Officer – from July 1.

“That is testament to what USQ does in Hervey Bay and Maryborough,” he said.

“Our retention, participation and success rates for Indigenous students have increased significantly in recent years.

“We’re seeing more and more Indigenous students having great experiences and achieving success.

“Those students are role models in their own communities. They are seen to have the courage to start tertiary education. Through their own persistence they have achieved and now working in their chosen fields and benefiting from their education.

“I applaud the efforts of USQ’s engagement in Hervey Bay and Maryborough including Linda Wondunna-Foley’s work with the Indigenous community.”

USQ Fraser Coast has more than 60 Aboriginal and Torres Strait students from Gympie to Bundaberg studying a range of disciplines from business and law to human services, education and nursing, and many more coming through USQ’s Pathways Programs.

Nine USQ Fraser Coast Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students graduated last year and several more in May this year.