Using a new old camera in a different way
May 15, 2012
I always swore that I wouldn’t put any of my family photos on my website, as this if for my serious photography only.
Well guess what, i’m just about to break that rule. So please forgive me as I did want to keep this website for serious work, but hey ho, I thought this might be interesting to some people.
About two weeks ago I got a new second hand camera for home. I haven’t been happy with the images from the top of the range point and shoot (a Canon S95) camera that my wife has been using for family snapps. We were going though some of the photos thinking about putting them in albums and I was struck by the fact that even though it’s supposed to be one of the ‘Serious Compacts’, boasts a very good lens, has an impressive 10MP and had some very very good reviews, the images just weren’t doing it for me. There was something about them that made the photos look like they were taken with a cheap camera. They were very soft almost slight pixilated, there wasn’t the detail in them and the digital noise and texture of the images didn’t look….well….right. Also the fact that I didn’t enjoy using it meant that we didn’t have many photos of my wife, as she’s always the one using the camera and I never ended up taking photo’s of my kids as much as I used to.
I’d been thinking about getting another DSLR for the family and decided to look at a second hand Nikon D40. This decision was based on the fact that I figured that even a bottom of the range DSLR would produce a better image than a top of the range point and shoot. I also didn’t want anything too expensive, having had several top of the range point and shoots over the years (including ones from Casio and Ricoh) and ended up selling them on as I haven’t been happy with them. I also figured that the D40 with it’s 6MP sensor (even though it came out in 2006, which is a dinosaur in camera years) would perform better in low light than the D40x with it’s 10MP sensor. Coincidently someone I know wanted to sell their D40 with it’s basic 18-55mm kit lens. Well that was all I needed to convince me. After getting the camera home and testing the same shot out with both cameras, it was clear that the DSLR was head and shoulders above the point and shoot with almost double the megapixles. Even though the D40 has the basic kit lens, it’s still bigger and better than a small point and shoot and that also goes for the sensor. There was just so much more detail in the photos. Also the fact that I could shoot on manual, how I wanted to and my wife could shoot on fully auto really helped convince us. But for me, being able to put the camera to my eye is how I like shooting, none of this arms length framing up your shot on a small screen. I’m really enjoying using this camera so much more than I did with the point and shoot. Because of that I’ve been taking so many more photos of the family and I’m really pleased with that, because I know I won’t be able to get the time with my kids back and I really want to document that.
I also love the fact that the D40 is so small and light compared to my big DSLR that I use for work. It’s so easy to sling over my shoulder, I don’t mind if it gets banged or scratched or the kids play with it, as it wasn’t that much in the first place. It’s a real joy to be free in that respect and to just chuck it in a bag and not to have to worry about it. I’ve also found that I’m shooting with it in a totally different way, which is a really unexpected bonus. When I’m working, mainly shooting weddings, i’m trying to create shots and images which are beautiful and paint the world as I see it in a more beautiful light. I want to capture the best memories and images. So I’m very considered in how I frame, what I take a photo of and how I get the subjects to act etc. It’s very difficult to do that with my kids (Ava is one and Alfie is just three) we’ve always tried to get them to look into the camera and smile. Anyone who’s got kids knows how difficult that is to do. But in using this camera, I feel that it’s freed me up to look at the kids and how I photograph them in a different light.
I’m now looking for things that I see which catch my eye and i’ll probably have as a memory of the kids growing up. Random moments, real reactions and details in which to document the kids, how they live and what they do. So gone are the posed shots of everyone nicely framed and smiling at the camera. Instead are details of grubby hands, close ups of faces with snot and crusty food round mouths, angry looking stares into the camera or loosely framed photos of the kids laughing, dancing and playing. I’m really enjoying shooting like this, it’s enabled me to be a lot freer with my photography. I like the fact that i’m cutting tops of heads out of frame, the photos are more of details as I remember them or see them. I’m breaking a load of self imposed rules about how a pretty photo should be and I’m loving it. Hopefully the collection of photos all add up to a real feel of what it’s like to be Alfie and Ava.
I hope you like them and would be interested to hear what you think of this new way of shooting.Find me on Google+