A photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said "I love your pictures - they're wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera." He said nothing until dinner was finished, then: "That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove." - Sam Haskins
Sam Haskins is 100% correct! Knowing how to use a camera properly will help you achieve that pristine vision that you have painted in your mind's eye, but there are some things that basic point-and-shoot cameras simply cannot do. Get ready because I'm about to drop some science on you!
My Camera Has More MegaPixels!
While megapixels come in handy when taking photos for billboards or large format prints, you can pretty much throw this number out the window. A typical blogger posts photos that are usually less than 800 pixels wide. How many megapixels does your camera need in order for your blog photos to look good? Two! Most cameras now-a-days come with 8-12 megapixel sensors which gives you the ability to print poster-sized photos with crisp results. While you should be conscious of the number of megapixels, don't let it be a deciding factor when purchasing a new camera. If you are blogging and/or printing 5x7 or even 8x12 prints, an 8 megapixel camera will do!
How Do I Get That "Blurred" Look?
In photography, that pleasing "blurred" look that helps isolate the subject from the background is known as "bokeh". Bokeh is the result of a shallow depth of field. The depth of field is the area of the photo that is in focus. Anything outside the depth of field is considered out of focus. That out-of-focus area can look REALLY nice if you have the right lens.
Bored yet? If you really want to know how depth of field works, you'll have to do a Google search and look it up yourself. If you don't care how it works, but want to achieve beautiful Bokeh, keep reading!
Typically, the more expensive the lens, the better the bokeh, but you don't have to break the bank to get beautiful results! Nikon DSLR shooters should take a look at the 50mm f/1.8G AF-S lens and Canon DSLR shooters should look at the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens. These lenses do not zoom, so you'll have to physically move(yup, you have to walk) closer or further away to zoom in or out on your subject, but that's better than paying $2,000+ dollars for a zoom lens that gives you the same type of bokeh.
What The Heck Is a 50mm with an f/1.8 thingamajig?
Instead of explaining what the numbers mean, I'll tell you how they apply to real-world craft applications. Those big lenses that you see at sporting events are usually in the 300-500mm range and can cost thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars. The reason they are so big is because the photographers can't get close enough to the athletes without interefering with the game, so they have to shoot at a distance. These large lenses are called "telephotos". Yup! Just like "telescope". So unless you plan on taking photos of your cards from 100 feet away, you'll want to find a 35mm or 50mm lens. This is a nice, wide lens that will work great for portraits as well as photos of your paper projects!
The next number is the aperture. Lower is better! Look for lenses that sports an f/1.4, 1.8, 2.0 or 2.8 aperture! Not only will these lenses give you more light to work with in low-light conditions, but they'll give you beautiful bokeh if used properly!
How do I use my camera and lens properly? Good question! This question is the topic of hundreds of books, but I'll do my best to answer it in my next edition of Photography Tips for Paper Crafters! ~ Leo