Northwest Landscapes, Spring 2012

Enjoy these great photographs from our local talent, and learn some tips from a pro.

Photo by Nels Akerlund.

Tips From a Pro: Develop a Relationship with Your Camera

“Your camera takes really great photos!” I hear this sentence a lot, and while I certainly appreciate the roundabout compliment, it’s like telling an accountant that his calculator does really good math. The truth is that today’s cameras really do take great photos. My current iPhone has more megapixels than my first professional digital camera, purchased in 2000!
So the question I’m asked most often is, “What camera should I buy?” This is a tough one. In general terms, there are three types of digital cameras: the camera phone, the point-and-shoot and the digital SLR. Each one has pros and cons.
Some say the best camera is the one that’s with you. This holds true for the camera phone, which is always handy, convenient in size, and allows you to share your (blurry and grainy) images instantly via email, text or Facebook. I admit to using my beloved iPhone as a photographic tool more than I ever thought I would. Its biggest drawback is that it takes 30 seconds to unlock it and find the camera app. Let’s hope that famous movie star walking through the hotel lobby is moving SLOWLY.
The point-and-shoot camera was created for people who had little or no technical knowledge and wanted an easy-to-use camera. All these photographers wanted to do was point and shoot, but these cameras have evolved way beyond their original purpose. They not only allow you to take idiot-proof photos, but also have staggeringly high megapixels, wide and telephoto lens zoom, manual control options, capability to shoot movies and can fix you a latte (kidding). They also have great image quality, small size and affordability in their favor. However, like camera phones, they do have a slight delay from the moment your brain tells you to click the shutter to the time the camera actually takes the picture.
Ahhh … the professional digital camera. It’s like the feel of a leather steering wheel in a $100K Porsche. If anyone tells you digital has not yet surpassed film, you can safely call that person a liar. The professional photography market has exploded with cameras boasting up to 36 megapixels and ISOs (equivalent of film speed) reaching the 200,000-plus mark. These cameras also have the ability to create HD movies and images that can be printed up to 20 feet wide. We’re now so capable of producing amazing images in low-light situations that we feel like we have night vision. This all sounds amazing but, as with anything, you pay for what you get. The cost of some of the high-end cameras is approaching that of a mortgage down payment, but they’re well worth the money if you want the best digital imagery available. The downside to these cameras is their size and weight, and the additional cost of accessories you need or want. I view this as a welcome trade-off given the quality these cameras can produce.
That said, my college roommate had a very old piece-of-crap camera that I thought would never capture an image worth anything. To my humbling surprise, he was able to produce amazing photos with it because he was a great photographer. When it comes right down to it, it’s the relationship between the photographer and the camera – any camera – that will produce incredible imagery. ❚
For more information on Nels Akerlund, visit his website at