This will clarify a bit about my photos and photo-taking to me

I am still a newbie to photography and still learning how to take photos and to edit them. I even bought some of those photo magazines to learn the tricks so if I did mistakes here or there… Forgive me…

Another important thing to each photographer should understand is that not every photos turns out well… Out of every one nice photo came around 5 to 10 failed ones. So if the photo you take didn’t turn out nicely, then try and try again.

Lets start with the basic equipments which I use…


~This is my photography set… I know I’m still missing a few essentials… Such as a tripod… But I’ll get one when I have the $$~


I’m currently using a Canon 720IS camera… And its NOT a DSLR… So all the shots generated are from a compact semi-pro camera.



~Photo is taken from link~

In addition to that I have around 8 Energizer AA rechargeable batteries alongside with a Quick Charger. And 2 1GB SD memory cards and a 128MB memory card which came with the camera. What I’m lacking now will definitely be a tripod.

I remembered when I was on the verge of getting a camera, I did a few day’s worth of research for a good one. And cum Christmas day 2007, I went for Canon 720IS. I remembered back then that I’ve seen in some websites that for a semi-pro compact camera with the best value, Canon 720IS tops the list. Back then it cost about RM 899 or RM 999.

What I meant about semi-pro is that it have certain manual functions such as being able to control the ISO, aperture and shutter speed which you could set on your own in different light conditions. This helps a lot especially when you are taking photos at different conditions and you want to manually set up the shot.

It has ISO up to 1600 which I don’t normally use. ISO 80 to 400 is what I found okay… Anything higher than 400 will results in noise. What’s noise you ask? It’s those grains you can see on your photos. Ever taken a photo where the quality grainy. That’s normally a photo taken at high ISO levels. Want to take a noisy photo? Easy… Just take your camera out at night (any camera will do), set the camera functions to automatic and take a photo of a scene without flash. Transfer it to your PC and look at it… See those grains… That’s noise.

Here’s an example

About photography 1

~Grainy look… Noise~

Now noise do serve it’s purpose in certain photos but most of the time it just make the photo look a lot less attractive. And high ISO normally give a lot of noise. So I normally use a low ISO setting.

If you follow the simple experiment at top, you might be wondering… why at night? If a camera is set on automatic, it adjusts its ISO setting based on the amount of light in the surroundings. At day time, the amount of light is sufficient so the auto setting will choose a low ISO setting to take the photo. But at night, without flash, because of inadequate light, the auto setting will use a higher ISO setting which can take in more details but with grainy conditions. That is why many people tend to get less detailed photos at night. There is of course the flash way to overcome this but the flash light normally brightens up everything till the extend that the original atmosphere couldn’t be captured (eg the yellowish light etc). So in manual settings, a nice night photo will have a low ISO setting. But if you were to choose a Manual setting with low ISO setting for night shots, you’ll most probably see this.


About photography 2

~Handshake blur photos~

A low ISO setting will results in a darker but more defined photo. But with the loss of noise, the camera won’t be able to take photos in the dark. So to over come this a different approach is taken by the camera. It will most probably increase the shutter time so that more light can be taken in to make the photos brighter. And a longer shutter time means that the time when the camera takes photo is longer. Which means that any movements at this point will result in the above photo. So if you want nice bright clear night photos, use a tripod… or… stabilize your camera on a surface and use timer. Easy huh… That’s why I need a tripod.


Tip #1: In bright conditions, ISO should be low… In dark conditions, ISO should be high. If you don’t want it to be high, then set it low but make sure your shutter speed is high (that is if you can change it). And use a tripod alongside timer settings at night. Oh… And if you are taking photos of people, the people will also have to be static throughout the longer shutter time.

Now…Another thing found on the 720IS is the aperture mode which I have my own understanding on… But which I think is wrong… I found that when you set the aperture value to a higher value, it gives a darker photo. In quality wise I don’t really see any difference. Perhaps those seasoned photographers can give me some insights on this (Janice??).


Another thing I found many camera users don’t really understand is the macro functions. Almost all camera have a macro function. Where is that you ask? Look at your camera settings for a flower sign. That’s the macro function. Here are two photos with macro on and macro off. Its quite self explanatory.


With macro on:

About photography 3


With macro off:

About photography 4


Notice the focus went from my finger from macro on to the bed when I off it. That what macro is for. Have something you want to take at extra close distance, turn macro on, and it will most probably focus on the first thing in front of the lens. But there is still a limit to this though. And notice the blurred background when macro is turned on. It helps to shift the attention to the close thing. Such as shown below:


About photography 5

But compact cameras normally don’t blur it as much as you might want it to. That’s where photo editing software comes in.

Tip #2: Turn macro on to take close shots and to blur background.

That’s about all the special things that separate a 720IS from a compact camera. And then I found something else that separates the 720 even more… The CHDK. Its a firmware add-on for almost all Canon cameras making even more out of the ordinary Canon cameras.


So there you have it. I’m not capable enough to be using what the pros use… But I am perfectly happy and fine with my compact 720IS.

And I’ll be updating more on photography techniques in a not so distant future. Cheers