Going Digital with Age

By Neil Moran

Many retirees are opting out of the rocking chair for a more active and productive lifestyle. One area they are getting into is photography. Taking pictures with a compact digital camera is relatively easy. However, if you want to take professional-looking  pictures, ones you could possible sell, you’ll need to learn from the experts.

Learning new skills at an older age can be a daunting task, especially if it involves technology. Perhaps that’s why you haven’t taken the leap into the more tech-laden DSLR cameras. Or, heaven forbid, you’re still using a film camera, which really isn’t all bad.

If you’re looking to take your photography to the next level, but feel a little overwhelmed with all the bells and whistles of a digital SLR camera, you’re not alone. I’ve been there. Fortunately, there are some good books and online courses that will relieve your “technophobia” and help you to take better pictures in no time.

When I first looked at the manual for my Canon XS, I might as well have been looking at the blueprints for a microwave. While I was able to figure out a few neat features, like the self-timer and custom settings, I just couldn’t put it all together to take better pictures. And then I discovered a book by Jim Moitke, entitled: The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography. (see page XX for book review).  It’s an excellent teaching tool, but if book learning isn’t your forte, or you’re looking to specialize in an area, such as portrait or sports photography, there are many online courses out there for the novice and advanced photo bug. www.Betterphotos.com is one such site.  Owned and managed by Moitke, it offers many online courses, from beginning DSLR photography to advanced. The courses are structured so you read, take photos and receive professional feedback. The instructors will take you by both your hands and teach you what you need to know so you can truly unleash your creative right brain. These free online courses can be jumping off point to get you learning more about digital photography. Two how-to freebee sites that offer good information on the subject are www.About.com and www.Suite101.com  Two sites that offer free online courses and rank high on their Internet search engines, include www.Photographycourse.net and a class taught by a beginner at www.fromtherubberroom.com

Once people start raving about your photos, you’ll want to have them developed by a professional studio. Studios such as MPIX, which is used by many professional photographers, will help let your newfound skills really stand out by producing high quality prints. These sites also offer a plethora of options for displaying your photos, such as in albums, greeting cards, etc.  A service like this is also beneficial if you get into commercial photography, like I have with wedding and portrait photography, where you will need photo albums, wallet-size prints, etc.

So what do you need to get serious about digital photography? A good digital SLR camera, of course. Choose from the popular brands on the market, such as Canon and Nikon. These are usually sold as kits and come with a wide angle to 50 mm lens. In addition, you should get a good flash unit so your pictures don’t get washed out by the pop-up camera flash. A professional quality tripod is a must to avoid the inevitable camera shake. In addition, you’ll want to consider a portrait or telephoto zoom lens. Most portrait and wedding photographers also use lighting kits that include umbrellas, strobes and stands. These can be purchased as kits for as low as $300. Adorama and B & H photography are two trusted sources for camera equipment.

Digital photography can be a fun, rewarding and a profitable venture. So go ahead, give it a try. There are plenty of resources and people out there who will help you get into it. If nothing else, you’ll enjoy better photos of family and friends.

Neil Moran uses his digital photography skills to take pictures for his business. Visit his writing site at www.neilmoran.com

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