The Art of "Auto" Photography Part 1: Mini-Tripods
This is the first part of a series of articles which I hope to sustain on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, as discoveries come to mind irregularly and unexpectedly, I simply have no idea as to how many parts there will be for this series. Since this is really all about finding new ways to enjoy your fully automatic pocket digital camera, photography enthusiasts may find this series irrelevant to their quest to further their knowledge of the art and craft. But for those who are stuck to simply pointing ang shooting, I hope you find this series rather interesting, enlightening, and entertaining.
As mentioned in the previous blog entry, snapshots are often snubbed by "serious photographers". I am a serious photographer myself but I do appreciate snapshots for reasons already mentioned. Ask a "real" photographer and the common advise you'll get is "use manual mode" or "don't stick to auto mode".
The problem is that most snapshooters have cameras that have only "Auto" and scene modes so this got me into thinking if there are ways into applying "pro" techniques to Auto Mode Photography. Well, I did some reading, observing and experimenting and although not all - YES - some techniques really can be applied. But before I start giving away tips and techniques, let's start with a very important digicam accessory - the mini-tripod.
THEY COME IN VARIOUS SIZES AND DESIGNS
Now why is it important to have a tripod? I really don't like tripods for my bigger cameras because they're extra baggage to me. I prefer handheld shooting but there are actual cases when a tripod is useful. So I bought the cheapest ones. I have two of them but they're used more as lighting stands. The mini-tripod, though, is a different story. Because they're very compact and cheap, I always have them in my bag with my digicam.
My wife and I travel by ourselves, or go out and dine by ourselves. When we do, most of the time, we find ourselves ending up with pictures of her or of me - very rare do we have pictures together. Setting the camera on top of a table by itself and on timer is also a problem because we cannot aim the camera to us the way it should be. That's actually the easier part because on trips while sight seeing, most of the time, there is no flat surface to set the camera.
The mini-tripod often solves those problems.
I happen to have two of them (as shown in the photo above) and both are rather cheap.
The black one to the right is very slim and very compact and will easily fit into your pocket or small bag. It's unconventional design, with springy legs, is very flexible and allows me to adjust their positions and set the camera levelled even on an uneven surface like, say a rock - or a car's dashboard. The only disadvantage I see is that it's height is not adjustable and you can only shoot in landscape mode (pictures horizontal). The following photos shows my Canon Powershot G7 (not exactly a snapshot camera but can be if you want it to be) on this tripod on the dash of my car and the resulting photo of me taken with it. This mini-tripod is a bargain at QR 5.00
The second one in the middle (to the right is my wife's full-auto Sony Cybershot) is a little bulkier but it follows a conventional tripod design. It's more flexible and versatile because of that and the ball-head allows you to position your camera and various angles, and yes, even the camera in portrait mode (pictures vertical) - plus the height is adjustable.
I have 12 photos (too many to put them all in this blog entry) of these mini-tripods showing the size comparison to a common digicam and how they may be used and positioned to take a photo of yourself, your group (with you in the same picture) or your tiny precious things. You may view them by clicking on this sentence.
Well, that's it for now. Oh yes, mini-tripods are available in any photo lab (Kodak or Fuji) but designs and sizes available here in Doha will vary.