This is my favorite – and most important – digital photo tip

Recently, as I was giving my standard lecture about taking digital pictures, the words just popped out of my mouth. It was what you might call an epiphany (a moment of sudden revelation or insight). “Think of it this way,” I said. “Until you press the trigger button half way down, your camera has absolutely no idea what you want it to do!

It’s like if you pulled up to the ATM at your bank, looked directly at the machine and said “I want some money.” Yes, the ATM machine is working. Its little screen is flashing. (And let’s assume that you have a few bucks in your account!) But, believe me, it didn’t see you coming, recognize you, and assume that you needed to take $30 out so you could scoot over to Mickey D’s for a quick, nourishing lunch then over to the grocery for a six pack and a dozen eggs.

And, in much the same way … Yes, you’ve turned the camera on, removed the lens cap, and pointed it in the general direction of whatever it is you want a picture of. But – just like the ATM – something else has to be done before the camera will deliver that hoped for image.

The ATM needs information – your debit or credit card and your PIN. And then you have to punch in the numbers so that it can deliver your much needed cash. Right?

Your digital camera needs critical information too. And it CANNOT begin gathering that information UNTIL you press the trigger button half way down.

For one thing, the camera needs to be activated so that its light meter can see how much light it has to work with. For another, will you need to use the flash? If so, the battery has to charge the ballast before it will fire. And another – it has to focus on the subject you’re pointing at.  And another … you will probably use the zoom to compose the shot. That takes a moment too. And so on …

NONE of these things happens UNTIL YOU PRESS THE BUTTON HALF WAY DOWN!

Of course, full size DSLRs are faster – some of them are instantaneous.  But point & shoots – even the best ones, like my Canon SX30is – still need that split second after you press the button half way to get themselves ready to shoot.

Cameras, Lenses and Humidity

With all the hot and humid weather we’re having, the problem of condensation when we take a camera from indoors – air conditioning – outside, raises the question: how to prevent your camera and lenses from fogging.

Sometimes, it can take half an hour or more for a lens to acclimate – and for the fogginess to disappear – so that it can be used.

Recently, I came across this question in a six-year-old edition of Outdoor Photographer magazine. The answer, given by long-time OP columnist, George Lepp, is an idea I had never heard … but from now on I’m going to use it.

All you need is a plastic zip-lock bag large enough for your camera and lens and some silica gel.  Put the equipment inside the bag with the desiccant as soon as you take it into the air conditioning.  Then, when you  go out into the heat and humidity, give the package a few minutes to adjust before trying to use it.

Most of the accumulating moisture will gather on the outside of the bag, and the silica gel should take  care of the small amount that’s inside the bag with the camera.

Try it.  Let me know if it works for you.

(I’m told this process also works in reverse – if the weather is cold and the indoor air is heated.)

And one more thing:  These extremes of temperature and humidity can also damage your camera and lenses. Moisture accumulating inside any electronic equipment is not good.  More expensive cameras and lenses have much better seals and structural integrity than the ones most of us can afford to use – that’s one reason they’re more expensive.

Crawling on a leaf outside the back window yesterday as I was eating breakfast

To the best of my knowledge, this is some kind of Fritillary caterpillar. I captured this image with my Canon SX30is, using digital zoom at 75x. I don’t usually use or recommend digital zoom.  It gets real ugly real quick.  But this camera is amazingly good at it.  The 75x setting approximates almost 1700mm in regular camera terms.

Click on the image to enlarge and see full detail.