Joe and Mary Ann McDonald's

Wildlife Photography

December 2006-January 2007

Tip of the Month

Bring Along a Point n Shoot

With our PnS we could take easy snaps while gorilla treking, likeI did of Mary on the trail in Volcanoes National Park
and of Kathy Morris holding a chameleon we found en route as we headed towards the gorillas;
or we could give the camera to a passer-by to take a snap of Mary and I on our first vacation,
without worrying about whether or not that person could figure out how to use our more sophisticated cameras.

How many times have you been just too lazy to snap a picture, especially of something that wasn't a 'real' photograph? How many times has it just been too inconvenient to carry along your 'real' camera? How often have you passed on a shot, or the recording of a memory, for any of these reasons? We have, too many times, but that happens far less anymore since we starting carrying along a simple Point n Shoot.

The reasons you should too are probably more than I can think of here, but consider these points:
PnS are small, and most can fit into a shirt or pant's pocket easily. Therefore, they are always accessible.
The better PnS cameras have a fairly decent pixel count 6-8 megapixels or so, which is perfectly adequate for 5x7 prints or almost any WEB application.
They're so easy to use, especially on automatic mode. This is especially helpful if you're asking someone to snap a shot of yourself, where handing over a heavy, expensive, serious-looking SLR can be intimidating. Everyone knows how to frame a PnS, and the images generally reflect that proficiency.
Our PnS has a panorama feature as well, so we can shoot a multiple sequence pano incredibly easy. In fact, the feature is so nifty I can't understand why it isn't incorporated into our SLR cameras as well. It should be! Here's how it works:
One of the Mode options, in addition to Manual, Aperture, Shutter, etc. is a Panorama. If that's selected, when the camera is fired, the first image shows up on the LCD monitor like normal. However, here's the neat part -- as you frame for the next shot, the LCD monitor shows the old image and the real-time view of the next, making it very easy to align distinctive features for an overlap. The third image is similarly aligned with the preceeding shot, and so on, until you switch Modes.

A two-frame panorama stitch simply done with our PnS

Better PnS cameras offer a RAW format, so you don't lose the creative control, and the insurance RAW offers, when using one. Some models we've seen on our recent trips were barely larger than a pack of cards, and took wonderful shots. Another model, built more like a traditional SLR, had a 1 to12X optical zoom - the equivalent of a 600mm lens -- without the dust problems. That camera made fantastic shots, and was one-sixth the weight of the SLRs and 500mm lenses Mary and I were carrying!

Fish; Joe; and Mary in the Indian Ocean

Our model, a Canon PowerShot 570, fits a custom Canon UNDERWATER HOUSING that operates all the camera's functions. On our recent snorkeling trip to coastal Kenya, we satisfied our 'underwater urges' with the PnS with a lot less money, weight, and headaches, as we would have had with housing our digital SLRs. I must admit that each time we snorkeled, the first thing we did was immersed the housing and watched for bubbles - hoping we'd catch a leak before we flooded the camera. The housing worked perfectly, but still, we wondered what our stress factor would have been had we been doing the same with our 1Ds or 1D Mark II cameras?

In short, using our PnS was a lot of fun, and allowed us to get shots we'd have passed on, or been afraid to make (those underwater!), had we not carried one along. Thanks goes to Steve Berkowitz, by the way, for this tip -- it was his suggestion, and he sure enjoyed using his PnS for fun shots on his safari!

Steve with a 'whoopie pie,' a Pa. Dutch dessert Steve brought from
Pennsylvania to enjoy with the elephants (in the background, at Samburu).

Our Past Photo Tips of the Month:


ProShow Gold
Digital Slide Program

Workflow and Workload -
You Can Keep Ahead

  New Lens Covers for
Long Lenses

 Action Wildlife Photography Camera Settings

 Liquids in your Levels -
TSA Warnings!

 Effective Cloning in Adobe CS2

 The Helicon Focus Filter Revisited

 Action Wildlife Photography Camera Settings

 Keep Your Head Up
 The Best All-Around Lens

 The Pond-A Must-See shooting Location in southern Arizona

 DIGITAL- Digital Birding

 DIGITAL -Shoot for the Future

 DIGITAL-Shoot for the Future, Part II

 Capture 1's Most Useful Features

maximizing depth of field digitally

  Backing Up Your Digital Files - you'll need more than you think

 DIGITAL Photographing scenes with extreme exposure values

 NPN- Nature Photography Network - a digital forum for nature photography

 Digital Pro Image Management Software

 Watch Your Backgrounds
The potential of composites or shooting in RAW format

 A Great Website for Information - the Singapore Nature Photography Society

 Save Your Equipment from Crashing!

 The L-Bracket, the ultimate camera bumper

At the Pulse of Life
by Fritz Polking

 Carry Your Gear!

 Shooting in Inclement Weather

 Carry-on Luggage for small commuter flights

 Visual Echos Tele-Flash for the 580EX Flash

 Ask Questions
Before You Go

 Seize the Moment!

Geared Focusing Rail for Macro Work 

 Protecting your long lens from SAND, the pleasures of beach photography

 How do we protect our gear from dust, and carry our gear when on safari

 The Ultimate Flash Bracket
Padding Your Wimberley
Tripod Head

  Specular highlights and the flashing frog
 Using TTL flash with Hummingbirds  Testing your Flash's Aim
Maximum Depth of Field and Hyperfocal Distance - they're not the same thing!  If you see it, it's too late -- a lesson in anticipation  How do you shoot the Moon?
  Low level tripod work  A great depth of field guide  Wimberley 400 and 600mm IS plate

 Sigma's 120-300mm F2.8 APO HSM zoom lens

 Using The Wimberley Gimbal head with a camera body

 Sigma's 120-300 f2.8 APO
zoom telephoto lens

 Custom Function 4-1 for Nikon and Canon shooters

 Sighting in a very, very long lens
 The Nature Photography Network - a super website for images and information
  Take a Workshop First   Luck, what is it?  Don't take in baby wild animals

  Airline Carry-On Luggage -Let your concerns be heard!

 Disconnect -- travel precautions

Photograph America Newsletter
 Wildlife Portraiture

 Obey the Rules
The Ti Chi Stalk
Photographing Critically Endangered Sites Bushnell Night Vision Optics  Adobe Photoshop 7 for $300

 The Sibley Bird Guides

 Removing Cactus Spines

 Drying out boots with newspaper

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