Thoughts and brain dumps

Thoughts and brain dumps

By Andy Hawthorne. Words, photos, code and running…

27 Dec 2019

Time to Buy a DSLR

Reading time: 3 minute(s) - 500 words

I’ve purchased my first DSLR camera.  That’s because using my smartphone for taking photographs finally got too frustrating.

The sun was warm, the sky was blue and the coastline stretched out before us in a glorious vista.

For the umpteenth time, I raised my iPhone with camera app loaded. Ready to capture it all with one tap.

There was one big problem. What my screen was showing didn’t match what my eyes were seeing.

I crouched down to catch some long grass in the foreground. Better  but still not it. The whole thing was too… empty.

So, I turned around and took this one instead:


I like the strong lines in this one. The way the line between sand and sea bisects from the edge of the photo. But then the pier cuts across that line.

Let’s not talk about the horizon - that messes things up. 

I decided to take the first shot in the end. Here it is:

Bournemouth bay

And the problem is clear - nothing much to focus on. I guess the Independence Day movie cloud formation is what caught my eye.

I took several more that day - all with the same problem. I stuck the railing in the foreground to try and create some depth in this one:

Bournemouth beach

But being honest, it didn’t work too well. Again, the impressive sky saved the picture (you could argue).

Curse of a fixed focal length

4.25mm was the focal length of my iPhone’s back camera. The photo used settings of ISO 25, f/1.8 and 1/3521s. 

Had I been able to use a zoom lens (even a short one like the standard 18-55mm) I could have pulled the scene in a little.

I could have walked a little closer and then used the solitary beach hut as a key element. With the sweeping coastline behind it. 

Or something.

The point being, my super wide-angle iPhone camera wasn’t going to cope with such a large vista. 

Avoiding the blanks

Take a look at this one:

Christchurch harbour

Some options to control the framing would have been nice. A short telephoto lens would have let me pull in on the birds in the foreground to add some interest.

In other words, I could have transformed a bland scene into a photograph. 

The bottom line…

Photography with a smartphone is good fun. And a great way to start.

I still use mine for that purpose, when I don’t have my DSLR with me.  I’d rather get the shot with what I have to hand than miss it.

But for real flexibility and the chance to achieve outstanding results, you need a camera.  An actual camera.

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