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A photograph is usually looked at - seldom looked into.  ~  Ansel Adams

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Photography 101

Snow cap mountains - Oxbow Bend - Grand Tetons Nation Park, WY

Using a camera for personal satisfaction is like learning to play a musical instrument.

You have to keep at it, improving your techniques through mistakes, as well as through the satisfaction you feel from the photo that delights you.

Skill in photography doesn't just come naturally to most people.

The quality of your photo depends on how well you see, not on the price of the camera, or the number of lens you can afford.

Photography is a complex subject. You can study it for years and still not know very much.

Take one area at a time and learn it. Then go to another area.


Communicate With Pictures

  • Remember the old saying A picture is worth a 1,000 words.

  • Pictures provide one of the best means of communication. They can tell a story, show how to do something, report on events of bring a smile.


The Camera

  • A camera is a precision instrument --- even an simple camera. So treat with TLC "Tender Loving Care@.

  • One of the most important steps is to read the instruction manual. It will explain how to load the camera, clean it and keep it in good repair.

  • Keep the camera clean. Dust and fingerprints can cause cloudy looking pictures.

    • The best way to clean dust off the camera is to blow off the lens. Then use lens tissues to finish the job.

    • Never use a shirt tail, it may scratch the lens.

    • Also, be sure to blow out the inside of the camera each time when changing film. Dust and dirt inside the camera can make spots on your pictures, as well as jam the mechanism of the camera.

  • If your camera has batteries, change them at least once a year. Also, clean them every so often with a damp cloth.

  • If you will not be using your camera very often, it is a good idea to remove the batteries to avoid any corrosion.

  • Sand and water can also be bad for your camera. So keep your camera in a case or bag, when not in use, especially at the beach or in dusty conditions.

  • Store your camera with the shutter un-cocked. The spring will last longer when there is no tension on them for long periods of time.

  • If for some reason, the shutter cocking lever doesn't=t turn freely when winding, do not force it. Have a photo repair person look it.

  • Make sure you keep your camera away from heat and damp areas.

  • When traveling in a car, keep your camera out of direct sunlight.


  • There are as many different types of films, as there are cameras.

  • Decide what type of film you want. This decision should be based on what you want to shoot.

  • Use a fast film in low light conditions, such as shooting in the woods without a flash. Example: Kodacolor 400.

  • Use a medium speed film for general shooting. Example: Kodacolor 100.

  • Use a slow speed film in very bright sunlight, such as beach scene. Example: Kodachrome 25.

  • Be sure to check film to see whether it is black and white, color slides or color print film.

  • Also, always check the process date. If the film is out of date, DO NOT buy it. Always develop it before the process date is reached.

  • When you put film in your camera, shoot the film and have it processed as soon as possible. Don=t wait six months.

  • When loading your camera, try to avoid direct sunlight.

  • Film is very sensitive to heat and humidity, so try to avoid these problems. Never leave film around where it could get hot.


Basic Camera Handling

  • First read your instruction manual.

  • Loading - follow your instruction manual.

  • Using your viewfinder window.

    • What the viewfinder sees is what you get.

    • Keep your eye fairly close to the viewfinder window, but not glued. You should be able to see all four edges of the viewfinder frame.

  • Hold your camera steady.

    • This is the most important thing in basic camera handling. Kodak estimates that a 90% of all bad pictures are caused by camera movement.

  • Press the shutter release button as smoothly as possible. S-q-u-e-e-z-e the shutter. Some people hold their breath.

  • Another reminder, be careful not to cover the lens accidentally with a finger, strap, or lens cover.

Using your Flash

  • The most important factor in flash photography is the distance from the camera (flash) to your subject.

    • If the flash is too far away, your pictures will be dark.

    • If you are too close, your pictures will be too light.

  • Read your instruction manual for the proper distance range for your flash.

  • Hint: Most simple cameras with a build in flash, the flash range is 4 to 10 feet.

  • Care and Handling

    • The most frequent cause of flash failure are weak batteries.

    • Another major cause is the battery contacts need cleaning.

    • When replacing batteries, use alkaline batteries. They usually will not corrode. Also they have a long life and will change up fast.

  • General Tips

    • Watch out for reflective backgrounds, or eyeglasses in your scene. If you take a flash picture at either, you will get an unattractive glare spot in your pictures. Stand at an angle to mirrors, windows, or shiny objects.

    • If you have more than one subject and they are at different distances from the camera, they will receive different amounts of flash light - some will be too bright or too dark. Make sure that all your subjects are roughly the same distance from the flash.

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Bob Spalding
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