I suspect for many of you like myself, you rarely consider taking photos with a real purpose-built camera when almost everywhere you go, you have tucked away in your pocket or purse, a smart phone with a very nice built-in camera. But prior to me getting my own smart phone, I first joined the digital age of photography in 2003 when I bought my first point-and-shoot digital camera. Over the years, I upgraded purchasing similar ones with ever increasing numbers of megapixels. But in 2009, I gave my wife a really nice digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera for Christmas. And I liked it so much, I gave myself one soon after.
While our DSLRs came with an easy-to-use fully automated mode, we often tried taking shots with various techniques in a manual mode to create creative photos. But once I got an Apple iPhone in 2011, I found I rarely used my DSLR and basically shoved it into the closet where it sat unused, collecting dust.
When I retired in 2017, I made several lists of projects I wanted to accomplish as well as a list of things I wanted to do in retirement. And one of those items was getting reacquainted with my DSLR. Three years later, in the fall of 2020, I finally acted on that goal.
It was October of last year, when my brother and I planned to drive to our favorite place in the world—Montreat, NC—that we discussed bringing our old DSLRs along. So out of the closet my DSLR came for a much-needed dusting off of the case.
When I took the camera out of the bag, I first discovered that the battery was dead. No surprise there. However, I was pleased to find that the battery could be recharged and held a charge since the battery was at least 10 years old.
Once I charged it up, I turned it on to check the images on the memory card. Turns out the last time I used it was in 2018 when I was taking a photo of my wife and I for a Christmas card that year.
But prior to that, the last images I captured with this camera were in 2013 when I was taking a picture of my smart phone in a little chair, I had made for it. Wow it had been a while.
Fast forward to our trip to Montreat, it was on our third day together that my brother and I set off to take some photos with our DSLR cameras. We decided to shoot some of our favorite scenes that we had taken many times before with our smart phones, like the waterfall spilling over the dam…
…and Lake Susan with the Assembly Inn reflected in the water.
For the waterfall, I tried several different manual settings to see the different effects but when I looked at each on the small display on the back of the camera, it was hard to tell the difference other than some shots seemed lighter or darker than others. I figured once I downloaded the photos, it would be much easier to figure out the different effects.
Well, that download did not happen until recently, over six months later, when I remembered I had taken those photos.
Fortunately, I still had an old computer that had an SD card slot on the side that made the transfer very easy.
But as I flipped through the images on the computer, I was not much impressed with my efforts. It seemed about all I had accomplished with the many different settings was to either over-expose…
…or under-expose the shot.
It probably didn’t help much that the left side of the dam was in bright light while the right side was in shade. If I knew more about how the manual settings could be manipulated to correct this, the shots undoubtedly would have been much better. But before using it, I did not spend any time refreshing myself on what effect changing the different settings would have on the image captured.
Having used the DSLR on this one trip, I can’t say I really have accomplished what I put on my list. So, I won’t be lining through that item on my list until I do a much more thorough job of refamiliarizing myself with its use. Maybe next time I am with my brother and sister, they being much more experienced with DSLRs, can give me a crash course on its use. Until then, back in the closet it will go as I continue my photographic endeavors with my latest iPhone.
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